May 1, 2008
The Lady Bisons have had several reasons to celebrate this softball season.
Wednesday night they honored four seniors _ pitcher Kim Jacobson, catcher Jennifer Allsup, outfielder Sara Simons and first baseman Heather Collins _ for having played major roles in leading the team to its first ever Atlantic Sun regular season championship.
Jacobson and Collins have spent four seasons with the Lady Bisons. Allsup became part of the team two seasons ago after playing two seasons at San Jose City College. Simons joined the team this season as a transfer from Missouri.
Simons, who graduated in 3 ½ years from Missouri with a nursing degree, has spent this year working on a Masters of Education degree at Lipscomb. Friday she plans to take her board exams to become a certified R.N.
She has started all 53 games this season. She is second on the team in doubles with seven and third in home runs with four. She is only one of two players to hit two home runs in a game this season with a pair against Austin Peay. She has driven in 23 runs, and is one of four players on the team with 20 or more RBI.
"Sara immediately brought a winning mentality, a great work ethic and maturity to our team from the moment she arrived in January," said Lipscomb coach Kristin Peck. "Her leadership has impacted our program in more ways than she will know. Although she was here for a short time, we truly feel that she has finished her career at Lipscomb for a reason.
"Sara I going to be incredibly successful in the nursing field because of her competitive nature, great personality and genuine good nature. She is as hard a worker as anyone we have ever had in our program, and she is finally reaping the benefits. She and her family will always be considered a part of our Lady Bison family."
Sara was joined by her parents, Liz and Gary Simons.
She plans to return to her hometown of Kearney, Mo., after the season is over.
Allsup's development over the last two seasons has helped the Lady Bisons become the No. 1 seed in the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament. She has made only six errors in her two seasons behind the plate for the Lady Bisons and has a .985 fielding percentage.
"Jenn is a player who is hard to keep off of the field," said Peck. "She is a tireless worker. She understands the game. She plays with a tremendous amount of heart. Her leadership is unquestioned.
"She was voted a captain at the beginning of this year, an honor that was well-deserved. Jenn's contributions to our program cannot be measured in her numbers. She understands and performs her role as well as anyone on our team. She has done so many things to lead our young players to more maturity and a sense of team."
Her parents are Patty and Frank Allsup, but they were unable to attend the ceremony. Jennifer will receive her degree in exercise science in December. She plans on returning to her hometown of San Jose to enter the police academy.
Collins has been a mainstay at first base for the past four years and will be playing in her third A-Sun Tournament next week. During her career she has 174 hits, 25 home runs, 112 runs batted in, 22 doubles and 67 walks. She also has 47 multiple hit games and 23 multiple RBI games.
She has started all 108 games over the past two seasons.
She set Lipscomb single-season records and ranked in the top five of the A-Sun as a junior with a .373 batting average, 53 RBI and 14 home runs. She set a career high for RBI in a single game with seven against Belmont as a junior.
This season she leads the team with a .998 fielding percentage with only one error committed.
This season she is batting .295 with three home runs and 17 RBI.
Collins is the only player in the history of the program to be named First Team All-Atlantic Sun Conference, an honor she received last season. She was a second team selection as a freshman. She has also been a member of the A-Sun All-Academic Team for the past three seasons.
"Heather's numbers speak for themselves," said Peck. "She has done some very impressive things for us over the last four years. When Heather and Kim first arrived on campus we weren't even playing our home games on campus. She has seen the ups and downs of this program. She has truly been a player to build our program around since she arrived in 2004.
"She has matured greatly into an outstanding person and player. We will probably miss her smile and love for his `sisters' as much as anything."
She was accompanied by her parents, Sue and Roger. She is from Moutverde, Fla. She will graduate Saturday with a degree in psychology. She plans on attending graduate school and wants to become a college softball coach.
Kim Jacobson's career individually went through as many changes as the program in four years. She threw only 10 innings as a freshman with three strikeouts and 1-1 record.
As a senior she leads the team in innings pitched with 122 and 80 strikeouts. This year she has set career highs for wins (9), shutouts (3), innings pitched and strikeouts. She finished this season 4-1 against A-Sun teams, winning four in a row to help the Lady Bisons clinch their share of the regular season championship.
She won an A-Sun Award as Pitcher of the Week. She is a two-time member of the Atlantic Sun All-Academic Team. She has also served as a team captain the past two years. She has also been the chair of the Student-Athlete Advisory Council.
"If I had to choose a player who has improved the most throughout her career, I would choose Kim," Peck said. "She has worked as hard as anyone to become the player she is today. Our coaching staff agrees that she is currently the best pitcher she has been in her entire career.
"I am constantly amazed at how Kim has refused to give in over the past four years. She has been an impressive leader for a young team and has truly served as the foundation for our program. Her improvement has coincided with the improvement of our program. We will miss her character, dedication and dependability. Four years ago, not knowing much about the school, Kim decided at the last minute to attend Lipscomb on a `leap of faith'. We are all impressed with how far her faith has taken her."
She will receive her degree in finance and economics Saturday. She was accompanied by her parents, Arlene and Doug, who are from Colton, Calif.