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Lady Bisons feeling the heat as they prepare for the A-Sun Tournament

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

May 7, 2008

DELAND, Fla. _ The heat is on for the Lipscomb Lady Bisons softball team and it has nothing to do with the competition.

The team went through a brisk 55-minute workout here at Patricia Wilson Field on the campus of Stetson University Wednesday morning. The sky was sunny and the temperature was in the high 80s. Dressed in black T-shirts and shorts for the workout the Lady Bisons felt the brunt of the heat. With 90-plus degree temperatures expected through the weekend, the heat is something the Lady Bisons will have to learn to deal with in the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament.

The Lady Bisons (29-24 overall, 16-6), the No.1 seed open tournament play Thursday morning at 10 a.m. CDT against No. 6 seed Gardner-Webb (21-33 overall, 6-16).

Peck, who was presented her A-Sun Coach of the Year Award after practice, isn't worried about her team wilting in the heat.

"We haven't played in weather this warm yet this season, but our players are tough," Peck said. "They are tough-minded. They have played in this type of weather before at some point.

"We have come too far to let the weather dictate how we are going to play. We will have them well-hydrated and ready to go. I don't think it is going to be an issue."

The Lady Bisons worked on both fielding and hitting, breaking up into smaller groups to work with Peck and assistant coaches Lexi Myers and Amber Wood.

"We had a lot of reps for every player," Peck said. "We wanted to get them comfortable with the field and we wanted to get them in the right mindset."

Peck thinks the pitching of Kim Jacobson, Alaina Jacobson and Christen Campbell will be what keys any success the Lady Bisons have in the tournament.

"Our hitting is a presence that we always bring to the table," Peck said. "We have to hit the ball and score runs to win. But our pitching has been such a difference maker from early in the season to the mid-way point when we went on a big run."

After practice Peck informed pitcher Alaina Jacobson, shortstop Abby Keese and designated player-utility player Kellie Sirus that each had earned a spot on the All-Atlantic Sun Second Team.

She also read a note from Brandon Rosenthal, Lipscomb's volleyball coach, encouraging the players to enjoy the process and to play their best. Rosenthal's volleyball team won the A-Sun Tournament and earned its first berth in the NCAA Tournament in the fall.

Last year the Lady Bisons lost 3-2 to ETSU and 4-0 to host Stetson in the tournament. Like most coaches, Peck has thrown out the records for last season.

"I feel like this is a different team this year," Peck said. "We have a lot of returners. I feel like we have taken that step forward from a mental standpoint and from an expectations standpoint and from the standpoint of our expectations.

"Our players expect to win and they want to win. They are not going to let little things get in their way. We are excited about what we have coming Thursday."

Peck isn't concerned about the weather, but she is worried about Gardner-Webb. The Lady Bisons swept Gardner-Webb 5-2 and 9-4 in Boiling Springs, N.C., March 22.

"Gardner-Webb is a team that you cannot take for granted," Peck said. "They will sneak up on you. They can put the hits together at any given time. They are kind of unpredictable. It is hard to prepare for them.

"We played pretty well against them early on, but they are a different team now and we are a different team now. It is going to be a totally different match-up."

The Lady Bisons shared the Atlantic Sun regular season championship, but the other two teams, Florida Gulf Coast and USC Upstate, were not eligible for the tournament since they have not completed NCAA requirements.

"We feel good about where we are right now," Peck said. "We have to go out and get it done from the first inning. We have to be ready to go.

"It is nice to be the top seed. We have never been in this situation before. But there are other teams playing well right now. This is totally up for grabs. It is nice to know we have put ourselves into the position to be the No. 1 seed."

All of the tournament games will be available on a subscription basis through A-Sun TV. Those wanting to view the games can click on the A-Sun TV icon on the Lipscomb Sports website.