Two years ago Lipscomb Lady Bisons pitching coach Lexi Myers scouted the Georgia State High School Tournament in Columbus and returned home with a one item shopping list for coach Kristin Ryman.
“I told Kristin I saw a 6-foot-2, left-handed blond pitcher and I wanted her to play for the Lady Bisons,” Myers said.
That pitcher was Ashley Anderson from Sharpsburg, Ga. She became the first left-handed pitcher signed by the Lady Bisons’ softball program in the NCAA Division I era. It is difficult to find a quality left-handed pitcher and Ryman was more than happy to add her to the rotation.
“She has a great presence on the mound,” Myers said. “She is a left-hander and that is also an advantage for her.”
Anderson’s debut as a Lady Bisons’ pitcher was delayed until this season. During the Christmas break of her freshman season Anderson fell and damaged her shoulder. Surgery was required and she missed the entire 2010 season.
“I was clumsy,” Anderson said. “I was walking backwards and I fell. I landed on my arm wrong. It was terrible.”
Anderson, who has been playing softball since she was 8, had also sustained a shoulder injury her sophomore year of high school. She missed the season but did not need to have surgery. Anderson admits it was difficult to be on the sidelines.
“I got frustrated a lot,” Anderson said. “You have to have the desire and the heart to want to get back into it. It was good to get back on the mound.”
Myers stressed that Anderson needs to fully realize how many plusses she offers as a pitcher.
“The toughest part is trying to get her confidence back,” Myers said.
But while she may not have been physically involved on the field, she watched and listened to what was going on around her. Ryman would have been happy to have Anderson in the rotation last season, but thinks the time on the sidelines was beneficial.
“She has come a long way in a short amount of time,” Ryman said. “I really think a lot of that is because she did sit last year because of an injury. All she could do was sit and learn. She tried to take in as much as she could and I think she did a great job of that.
“Since she has been able to start things physically she has been working and working. It has been a never-ending process for her. We are very excited with the progression we are seeing out of her.”
This fall she had placed herself as the No.2 starter behind senior Whitney Kiihnl. She has pitched 16.1 innings and has not allowed a run. She threw six scoreless innings against Trevecca Nazarene Oct. 15, scattering six hits, all singles.
Overall she has struck out 12, given up 13 hits and walked six.
At this stage of her return to the mound Anderson has only been throwing three of her six pitches _ fastball, changeup and drop. She is expected to have her rise ball ready when the Lady Bisons close out the fall season Oct. 27 in a doubleheader with Tennessee State at Draper Diamond starting at 6 p.m.
Myers stresses that the key for Anderson’s continued development is patience.
“We want her to be consistent with each pitch before we add another one,” Myers said. “You don’t try to learn all six pitches at one time. But she wants to throw all of her pitches now and I understand that.”
The most surprising thing about Anderson is that she throws the ball harder than she did before her shoulder injury.
“Her mechanics are getting better,” Myers said. “She is extremely coachable. She is always asking me questions. She wants it. She wants to continue to get better.”
Written by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations.