The fall schedule is over for the Lipscomb Lady Bisons softball team, but there is still work to be done.
The Lady Bisons closed out the fall with a split of a doubleheader with Middle Tennessee State Saturday afternoon at Draper Diamond. In eight innings in game one the Lady Bisons fell 6-5. They came back in the nightcap for a 4-0 shutout in seven innings.
Starting pitcher Heather Parker’s performance was the highlight of the day as she threw five perfect innings in game one.
The Lady Bisons finished the fall with a 7-1 record. Five of the victories were shutouts.
“We have learned a lot about how we will perform in games,” Lipscomb coach Kristin Ryman said. “I think there still is a long way to go, but we really like what we are seeing. But spring is very different than fall.
“We still have another two-and-half weeks of team practice. We still have time to continue working as a team. We will put them in game situations in intra-squad games.”
Ryman encouraged her players to keep competing at a high level in practice even though there are no games left to be played this fall.
“We want them to play the last couple of weeks with a lot more passion,” Ryman said. “We challenged them to find a way to bring that to practice.
“We need to continue improving as a team. We are not going to do it if we are lackadaisical. We need to come out and bring that intensity and energy every day. If we do, we are going to see this team take some big steps forward in the next couple of weeks.”
Ryman has 21 players on the roster this fall with 19 healthy enough to participate in the fall workouts. Both infielder Kelsey Cartwright and pitcher Tanner Sanders are sidelined.
With so many players and so many options Ryman thinks she has answered a few personnel questions, but is quick to point out that it is a long time between now and the start of the regular season in February.
“I think we are getting closer to knowing who the top group of hitters will be,” Ryman said. “I am not sure that we know completely yet.
“There is still a lot of work to be done mechanically on offense, but that is more on an individual basis. We want to make sure the younger ones mentality-wise know what they are looking for at the plate.”
The Lady Bisons were one of the top base running teams in the country last season with 112 stolen bases. The leader was Brittany Elmore with 36 steals. Ryman expects this year’s team to be just as capable of stealing bases and manufacturing runs.
“We have good team speed again, but I am not always sure we are getting the best jumps,” Ryman said. “I want us to continue to work on base running and make sure we are utilizing our speed.
“If a pitch is in the dirt, even if the catcher blocks it, we have enough girls on our team who could go ahead and instinctively steal on that pitch. I think we hesitate right now.”
On defense there have been several position moves. There are still questions at some positions that will not be completely answered until the start of the regular season.
“Defensively, we are starting to figure out where players are going to fit best for the team,” Ryman said. “Now it is just a matter of fitting the puzzle completely together.
“We want everybody getting after it. We want everybody talking.”
Ryman is also stressing that her players look and act like champions on the field.
“They should carry themselves like a conference champion because we have the ability to be one,” Ryman said. “If we are going to slouch around and act like we are not quite there yet then we are not going to get there.
“If you are pressured, or you are down, you have to put that aside sometimes and show a confident attitude. There is a lot of be said about how other teams view you when you carry yourselves that way. There is no reason this group shouldn’t be confident.”