Wednesday afternoon she was named to the Louisville Slugger/National Fastpitch Coaches Association Division All-American Team. Kiihnl, a sophomore for the Lady Bisons, was named to the third team. It is the first time a Lipscomb athlete has earned All-American honors in the NCAA era.
“I’m not sure Whitney really understands how good she is right now,” Lady Bisons coach Kristin Ryman said. “That is a good thing to some degree. She is so humble and modest in the way she handles herself.”
Kiihnl’s other firsts this season for the Lady Bisons’ program include the Atlantic Sun Player of the Year and Atlantic Sun Pitcher of the Year Awards. She also became the first Lipscomb softball player to be named to the Louisville Slugger/NFCA Southeast All-Region First Team which qualified her for All-American consideration.
The 54 players named to the three All-American teams represent 35 different schools and 13 conferences.
“She has just reached the tip of the iceberg with what she is capable of doing,” Ryman said. “I’m extremely proud because we are mid-major school and a lot of times even if you put up really good numbers you tend to get overlooked.
“The teams were so heavy with PAC-10 and Southeastern Conference teams. This really says a lot about what Whitney, and the other mid-major players who were in there, did all season.”
Kiihnl, from Batesville, Miss., finished the season with a 33-5 record. Her 0.95 earned run average is ranked first in the nation. She is second nationally in hits allowed per seven innings with 2.78. She is ranked 12th in shutouts with 12 and 13th in strikeouts with 344.
“Whitney doesn’t pitch in a big-time conference, but her numbers would be fairly close to where they are now even if she pitched in a bigger conference,” Ryman said. “She works hard every day.”
Ryman credits assistant coach Lexi Myers for her work in developing Kiihnl as a pitcher. Both coaches agree that Kiihnl can be even better than she is now.
“Lexi has worked tremendously hard with her and trying to develop her,” Ryman said. “Whitney’s raw talent is so good that a lot of times people don’t see what she can improve on.
“There are things she can get better at such as her consistency hitting her spots and being able to put the ball exactly where she wants it at certain counts. Every pitcher is going to miss every once in awhile with some pitches and we know that. We think she can go up another notch.”
She helped lead the Lady Bisons to a 50-13 record this season, the best in the history of the program. The Lady Bisons won both the Atlantic Sun regular season and tournament championships and made their first trip to the NCAA Tournament.
“Whitney took it up to the next level for us and made our team that much better,” Ryman said. “She kept us in so many games. She gave our offense a chance to relax at the plate. And it may have taken our offense three, four or five innings to get something done, but she was able to keep us in those games.”
Written by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations