NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Every team needs a good slogan and the Lipscomb Lady Bisons have one as they head into the Atlantic Sun Championship game.
Look at the Twitter hash tags of players and you will see the words “why not” as in “why not us”.
“The girls just started it for the tournament,” LU coach Kristin Ryman said. “They talked about it some as a group.
“There is nobody holding us back, so why not? I think that is a neat mentality to have.”
The Lady Bisons entered the tournament as the No. 4 seed. After beating USC Upstate 4-2 Friday they remain the only unbeaten team in the tournament with three victories.
Saturday at noon at Draper Diamond on the Lipscomb campus they will face No. 2 seeded USC Upstate again, this time for the A-Sun Championship and the automatic bid for the NCAA Tournament.
This will be the third appearance for the Lady Bisons in the A-Sun Championship game in the last four seasons. They won the tournament in 2010 and lost in the finals to Jacksonville in 2011.
This the first time they have entered the championship game without a loss. They have advanced by also beating No. 5-seeded Kennesaw State 5-4 in game one in eight innings and No. 1 seed North Florida 3-1 in game two, also in eight innings.
All three victories in the tournament have been the result of runs produced in the final at bat. In addition to timely hitting, the Lady Bisons have also benefited from consistent strong performances from pitchers Tanner Sanders and Heather Parker.
We are not the top seed,” Ryman said. “We have kind of a loose mentality. There is not a whole lot of pressure on us.
“Yeah, we are at home, but that is more exciting than it is pressure. I think what is cool is we are approaching every game having fun and just doing our thing. We are loose, but we are fighting. Even in tight situations we are finding ways to come up with the clutch plays and clutch hits.”
Ryman is more worried about her team than USC Upstate at this stage of the tournament, but she admits that she expects a challenge from the Spartans.
“We have to focus on us and do what we do,” Ryman said. “Upstate has a good team. They are a good hitting team top to bottom. We have known that all year long.
“Our mentality in the tournament has been to not look ahead. What we have to do is to find a happy medium between the excitement of the moment and staying grounded.”
The Lady Bisons have often been the underdog this season. The championship game will be no different. Since they are the lower of the two seeds the Lady Bisons will be the visitor for the third straight game.
“Knowing that they have been an underdog there is so much they have wanted to prove in this tournament,” Ryman said. “I hope that mentality will continue in the championship game. Even though we are in the winner’s bracket we still have a lot to prove.”
USC Upstate coach Chris Hawkins has a winning record against every team in the A-Sun except for Lipscomb.
“When I see a Bison on a shirt, I am like, `oh me, them again’,” Hawkins said. “We are going to do what we have to do. We can’t control what’s on the other side.
“If the outcome is in our favor that will be great, but if it isn’t at least we made it there. Hopefully, it will show the world that the A-Sun, the seventh toughest conference in softball, should have two teams in the NCAA Tournament.”