The Lady Bisons received eight votes in the USA Today/NFCA Top 25 Poll from the National Fastpitch Coaches Association and seven in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 Poll.
“It’s exciting to start the season off this way,” Lady Bisons coach Kristin Ryman said. “We realize that is based off last season and there is still a lot for us to prove.
“It is a nice honor. It shows there are some people out there with respect for our program who are definitely considering us to do some good things again.”
The Lady Bisons won both the A-Sun regular season and tournament championships last season. They posted a 50-13 record, 18-2 in the A-Sun. The 50 wins are a school record for a season along with 29 shutouts. They advanced to the finals of the NCAA Tuscaloosa Regional before losing to host Alabama.
“We don’t want to get too high over this,” Ryman said. “It may be something that we mention, but we try not to put too much emphasis on things like this.
“We have a young team. As coaches we are trying our best not to put them into situations where they will feel a tremendous amount of pressure. They need to have the opportunity to go out and just play and enjoy the games instead of trying to live up to last year’s standards or preseason hype.”
The Lady Bisons will be led this season by junior pitcher Whitney Kiihnl, winner of both Atlantic Sun Pitcher and Player of the Year honors in 2010. She was 33-5 with 12 shutouts and a 0.95 earned run average. All-Conference performers Courtney Billington and Mollie Mitchell return.
“Whitney is one of the best pitchers in the country,” Ryman said. “I think people understand that.
“We lost some players that were extremely important. There is going to be a lot of inexperience on the field early on. We are going to have to work through some kinks and allow this team to grow together and not expect them to perform like last year’s team. They are going to have to find their own identity.”
Written by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations.