NASHVILLE, Tenn. – It is difficult for a coach to evaluate an intra-squad softball scrimmage. If the hitters do well that means the pitchers are off. If the pitchers are overly effective that means the hitting is lagging.
Sunday afternoon the Lipscomb Lady Bisons took advantage of temperatures in the high 50s for a scrimmage at Draper Diamond at Smith Stadium.
Coach Kristin Ryman liked what she saw overall.
“It is kind of a mix of emotions as a coach,” Ryman said. “I feel like we had a good balance of hitting and pitching. I thought our hitters took advantage of the mistakes our pitchers made. I thought our pitchers did a good job of working on our hitters. Overall, I thought it went well.”
Ryman and pitching coach Megan Smith got a long look at pitchers Heather Parker, Tanner Sanders and Ashley Anderson. Sanders had not pitched since last spring due to an injury.
“We got some really good work in for Heather, Tanner and Ashley,” Ryman said. “It was probably more innings than they would have usually thrown in a scrimmage situation. It was good to push them to throw a little bit more in a game setting.”
The scrimmage was a full seven innings in length.
“Ashley has had a good preseason so far,” Ryman said. “She had a good fall. So much of it with Ashley is confidence.
“She has made huge strides. She has the talent. She has the movement. Her speed is good. As long as she trusts her pitches she is going to be in a good spot.
“Tanner looked good considering she hasn’t thrown in a game since last spring. For her it was exciting to be back out there and throwing as well as she did. The big thing with Tanner is endurance. She is close but it will be process to get her back to the point where she can throw a full seven innings. I am really pleased with what she did.”
Ryman summed up Parker’s performance as a typical one for the senior right-hander.
“Heather comes in and hits her spots and does what she is supposed to do,” Ryman said. “She is a smart pitcher. Sometimes it can be hard for a pitcher to self-correct, but if she makes a mistake it registers with her quickly.
“She has the knack for being able to work through those situations. Physically she knows what to do correct those mistakes. She understands herself and her pitching that well.”
One of the areas Ryman will be working with is the attitude of her players on the field.
“We told them at the end of the scrimmage that I don’t want to put an emphasis on the results right now,” Ryman said. “At times we had great results.
At times we had ugly results.
“We need to see if we are mentally where we need to be. Are we making adjustments” Or are we making the same mistakes over and over again?”
Another area of emphasis will be the body language of her players.
“We talk a lot about how you carry yourself on the field,” Ryman said. “That is a big deal.
“What is our body language like? Are we carrying ourselves on the field the way we need to do?”
Ryman stresses the way the Lady Bisons work in pregame drills is an indication to opponents what to expect when the game begins.
“Working on defense in pregame is the first time opponents are going to see you on the field,” Ryman said. “What kind of impression are you going to make?” It’s how you take the field and how you hustle on and off."
The Lady Bisons open the season at home Feb. 7 against Virginia Tech as part of the Music City Classic.
“Our talent will speak for itself,” Ryman said. “The next one-and-a-half weeks we will work out the kinks.
“We will be getting in as much live hitting as we can. We need to work on seeing the ball and recognizing the zones.”
The Lady Bisons were picked to finish third in the Atlantic Sun Conference by the coaches,
behind No. 1 USC Upstate and second place Florida Gulf Coast. The Lady Bisons lost in the championship to Upstate last season in the A-Sun Tournament. The goal, as always, is to return to the NCAA Tournament.
Ryman thinks that starts with the little things.
“We know it is hard to simulate game day,” Ryman said. “On game day the adrenalin will be pumping. People will be in the stands cheering.
“We are stressing every single day what the mental approach to practice should be. We want to make sure we are doing things with a purpose.”