MACON, Ga. - The Atlantic Sun Preseason Softball Coaches poll has the Lipscomb Lady Bisons projected to finish fourth in the conference this season.
Senior second baseman Kelsey Cartwright was a preseason First Team All-Conference selection.
Florida Gulf Coast earned all 10 first place votes followed by Kennesaw State in second and USC Upstate in third.
The Lady Bisons finished fourth in the conference last season. They lost Whitney Kiihnl, one of the top pitchers in the history of the conference; outfielder Caroline Mason and what she did offensively in crucial moments; and catcher Mollie Mitchell, one of the best catchers in the A-Sun.
Lady Bisons coach Kristin Ryman, set to begin her eighth season, isn’t surprised by the voting.
“So many coaches vote in preseason based on the year before,” Ryman said. “A lot of it depends on who graduated and who do you have coming in. We have some holes to feel losing those three, but I do feel like we are doing a really good job of filling those.
“I am not surprised with the pick. I definitely think we are going to be right up there in the top of the mix again.”
The Lady Bisons have added six freshmen and two transfers for this season. Ryman thinks that teams might be surprised at the talent level of the newcomers.
“We are young, but we have a lot of competent young players,” Ryman said. “They are going to get the opportunity to play quite a bit early on. We will see what they can do. We have a lot of young players who have the opportunity to be successful this year.”
On the mound Ashley Anderson returns, but she is joined by a pair of new arms - Heather Parker, a transfer from Wallace State (Hanceville) and Tanner Sanders, a freshman from Lincoln County High School.
“I think it can work to our advantage that two of our three pitchers are new this year to the conference,” Ryman said. “As a pitching staff all three are doing a good job right now.
“They are all three definitely going to get their share of innings. They are all three going to be counted on to throw some big innings for us throughout the season. They are all three very capable of that.”
Cartwright led the conference with 18 home runs. It was also a Lipscomb school record for a season. She will be counted on to be an offensive force again this season. But Ryman is quick to point out that Cartwright will not have to carry the weight of the team on her shoulders when she is standing at the plate.
“Kelsey just has to keep a good head on her shoulders and not try to do too much,” Ryman said. “She has to know that we do have some really good athletes and good hitters around her this year.”
Cartwright, a transfer from Auburn, led the Lady Bisons in hitting with a .381 average, slugging percentage with a .762 average and runs batted in with 45. She also had six doubles and two triples.
“Kelsey will be right back in the middle of the order,” Ryman said. “She has made such an impact, especially from an offensive standpoint.
“After only one year in the conference everyone knows who she is. She is easily one of the most feared hitters across the conference.”
Written by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations for Athletics.