JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Ashley Anderson has packed up all of the baggage from a frustrating 2013 season and hidden it in the back of her mental closet.
It is a new season for Anderson and she has been renewed by the process including working with a new pitching coach Megan Rhodes Smith.
“Ashley is definitely a legitimate pitcher in our conference,” Lipscomb coach Kristin Ryman said. “She has worked hard. She has come into this year with a new focus.
“She has come into this year with the idea of leaving last year behind. She has come out with a mindset that this is a new year and she knows what kind of pitcher she is. She owns it right now. Things are really clicking well between her and coach Smith.”
Anderson, a left-hander, threw her second shutout in as many days to lead the Lady Bisons to a 7-0 win over North Florida at the UNF Softball Complex Sunday afternoon in the opening Atlantic Sun Conference series.
“She had 13 wins as a redshirt freshman and was a great No. 2 option that year behind Whitney Kiihnl,” Ryman said. “She has battled some injuries off and on throughout her career and some other things that have come up.
“Last year things just weren’t clicking for her. She had a frustrating year. It is cool to see someone who has fought through a lot be one of the best pitchers in our conference.”
Saturday Anderson shut down UNF in five innings in a 9-0 win that was cut short due to the run-rule.
The senior was equally as effective Sunday allowing one hit. She walked three and struck out five.
“She did such a good job all weekend,” Ryman said. “She was hitting her spots. She was getting ahead. She was getting a lot of swings and misses.
“When they were putting it in play, she didn’t really give up any hard shots. The one hit they did have today was on a changeup and it was kind of a soft liner to left.”
Anderson is undefeated at 6-0. Her earned run average is 0.98.
“She stayed in control both games,” Ryman said. “I thought we did a good job today on defense.
“When we made a couple of mistakes we didn’t let it compound into something more. I thought Ashley had a lot of do with that.”
The Lady Bisons are 15-3, 2-1 in the conference. North Florida is 15-5, 1-2 in the A-Sun.
“We talked coming into this weekend that there are no gimmees in the A-Sun,” Ryman said. “Everybody is gunning for us because of the start that we have had.
“I think a lot of people know that over the past several years we have been at the top part of the conference. To go on the road in the first A-Sun series against a UNF team that is improved over last season, when they won the regular season, and get a good series win right off the bat is huge for us.”
The big hit of the day for the Lady Bisons was a two-run home run by Brianne Welch. It is her third home run of the season. Welch, batting in the ninth spot, is hitting .404, tops on the team.
Paige Neely, Gracey Aguirre and Bridgette Begle all had two hits. Rena’ Cothron was credited with a double.
“We are doing a good job from top to bottom of the order in finding ways to get runners on base,”
Ryman said. “We are getting RBI throughout the order. We don’t have to depend on one or two people to drive in most of our runs. Having that balance has helped us to get to where we are.
“When we are doing good things top to bottom, like we did today, if a player doesn’t get on base we have other people who are having good days. It is rare when you are going to see everyone in your lineup clicking at 100 percent and driving the ball as hard as they can all over the field.”
The Lady Bisons are back at home at Smith Stadium at Draper Diamond Wednesday for a doubleheader with Ohio starting at 2 p.m.
“That is a non-conference doubleheader, but we can’t get ahead of ourselves,” Ryman said. “We want to stay on top of our game.
“It is great to win, but there are always improvements to be made. We have to have that mindset of keeping our standards high.”