Lipscomb Lady Bisons softball coach Kristin Ryman has a lot of pieces on the team and she still isn’t certain how they are going to fit together.
“We had some really good practices this week with some good competition,” Ryman said. “It is great to see that. But it is creating some tough problems for us as coaches to make the final decision for the starters, especially in the first game.
“We are prepared as we are going to be at this point. I am excited about the team we are going to put on the field.”
With eight newcomers, six freshmen and two transfers, there will be new faces in the starting lineup. But Ryman and her coaching staff expect to be meeting Friday morning to make a final determination on the starters for the 2013 season opener with Iowa, the second place finisher in the Big 10 last season.
Game time is 11:30 a.m. at the Houston Hilton Classic hosted by the University of Houston. At 4:30 Friday they will play Houston.
Ryman, starting her eighth season as head coach of the Purple-and-Gold, is not addressing the fact that several of her starters may be playing their first official collegiate games this weekend against a tough tournament field.
“For the freshmen there are always going to be some nerves associated with the first weekend of games,” Ryman said. “There are nerves associated with your first time to play at home. That is natural for any athlete.
“Our freshmen have such high skill sets. I don’t know if there is a really good reason for them to be worried or nervous. Once they get a few innings and a few at bats under their belts they are going to fit in nicely.”
Despite all of the new additions, including first-year pitching coach Paige Cassady, the positive vibes are thick around the softball offices.
“Part of the reason we have tremendous confidence is because of how hard they worked in the fall and in preseason,” Ryman said. “This has been one of the hardest working groups we have ever had. I think this group has earned our confidence as a coaching staff.
“In my opinion it is a lot easier to be confident when you have put the time, effort and work in so we can legitimately say we have earned the right to be where we are right now. We do have a legitimate shot at winning five games in Houston.”
Ryman expects mistakes to be made, especially in the early games this season. But she knows this team is too competitive to let mistakes hamper their opportunities of winning.
“I think the execution factor has to come in,” Ryman said. “That is where the youth comes into play a little bit more.
“No coach is excited about making mistakes in a game. But, at the same time, if we are going to make them I am excited about making mistakes due to our youth. They are kids that are young enough that they are going to learn from it. They are going to grow and develop.”
Another aspect of the team that makes Ryman happy is the willingness of the players to accept instruction from team captains Kelsey Cartwright, Bree Thurman and Bridgette Begle through the freshman class.
“Bree mentioned the other night at our team dinner that this team has bought into coming in with an open mind and wanting to learn,” Ryman said. “They are coachable every day. We have had some players in the past that struggled with that aspect.
“It is so refreshing having players that are willing to do what you need them to do. We tell them every day that it doesn’t mean they are going to be perfect. It doesn’t mean they are always going to hit the ball solid or make every perfect play.”
Saturday the Lady Bisons will face Texas State at 9 a.m. followed by No.11-ranked Louisiana-Lafayette at 4:30. Sunday they close out with a 9 a.m. game with Houston. Rain is being predicted each day. The best chance of inclement weather is expected to be Sunday.
“We are going to be facing high-quality opponents but I don’t think it really fazes our players,” Ryman said. “I feel like our program has developed a sense of pride. We have played enough games against big name schools and we have won quite a few of those games.
“There are reasons our freshmen chose Lipscomb. And I would venture those reasons include the tradition of this program, what it stands for and the way we have won games in the past.”
Written by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations.