MEMPHIS, Tenn. – The Lipscomb Lady Bisons have proven all season that they are an offensive power.
But defensively they have had their ups and down. Tuesday afternoon Lipscomb coach Kristin Ryman and her staff had planned to put their players through some defensive challenges, but the weather interfered. Snow flurries and cold temperatures forced them inside McQuiddy Gym where hitting took priority.
“In moments recently our defense has looked better than it did at times early in the season,” Ryman said. “It has looked more composed.
“In the first two games at Kennesaw State (2-0, 5-0) we were pretty much flawless defensively. I think late in games, and in tight games when teams are putting pressure on us, we need to make sure we are handling it well and not being too tight defensively or with our pitching.”
The Lady Bisons, 26-5 overall, are on the road Wednesday night at the Tiger Softball Complex at 5 p.m. for a single game at Memphis, 13-17. This weekend they travel to Spartanburg, S.C., for a key three-game Atlantic Sun Conference series.
“There is some stuff defensively we want to address Thursday,” Ryman said. “We will see how things go against Memphis. Hopefully, we will come out with a good approach.
“Regardless of how it goes we will still address some things defensively as we prepare for Upstate. It is a matter of finding that consistency defensively from one game to the next. We have seen it in flashes but we haven’t seen it across the board top to bottom.”
No time for the Memphis blues: The Lady Bisons are making their second trip to the Memphis area. Earlier this season they played in the Blues City Classic hosted by Memphis in Southaven, Miss. They did not play Memphis, from the American Athletic Conference, in the tournament.
Memphis has lost its last five games. The Lady Bisons are coming off an 8-7 loss at Kennesaw State Sunday.
Lindsay Crowdus, a freshman, leads Memphis in hitting with a .407 average. She also leads the conference. She has six triples, tops in the nation.
Ellen Roberts has posted a 7-9 record in the circle for Memphis. She leads the team with a 2.59 earned run average.
“They have played a pretty good schedule this year,” Ryman said. “They are going to be a challenge. Regardless of who they pitch we have to go in there and attack good pitches. Hopefully, we will continue to get that production one-through nine.
“Defensively, we have to make the routine plays. We can’t work our way into a lot of jams. Pitching-wise and defensively we can’t give up a lot of freebies where we are walking a lot of batters, hitting batters or making errors.“
Paige Neely leads the Lady Bisons in hitting with .407 average. She also leads in hits (44), doubles (9) and runs (31).
Neely leads the team in multiple hit games with 12. She has an eight-game hitting streak, the longest active streak on the team and second longest on the team for the season.
Seven of the nine regular batters are hitting .312 or higher. Eight of the nine are in double figures in runs batted in. Kristin Sturdivant leads the team in RBI with 31.
Top 25 votes: After a 3-1 record this past week the Lady Bisons received votes in two national polls for the second week in a row.
They received four votes in the USA Today/NFCA Division I Top 25 poll and one vote in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 Poll.
The Lady Bisons are ranked 30th in the first NCAA Division I RPI report of the season this week.
On the national level: As a team the Lady Bisons are ranked ninth in the nation in scoring with 6.83 runs per game. They are 15th with a .828 won-loss percentage.
“We are winning a lot of games because we are scoring a lot of runs,” Ryman said. “We want to make sure that defensively we can win a 1-0 game if we need to do it.
“We don’t always want to feel that we have to put pressure on our offense late in a game. We want to win a game late with our defense as well.”
They are 21st in doubles per game with 1.59 and 25th with a .319 batting average.
Individually, Neely is ranked third in sacrifice flies with four per game. She is 39th in runs per game with 1.03.