Lady Bisons plan to build on early success in Panther Invitational
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Lady Bisons plan to build on early success in Panther Invitational
Lady Bisons softball coach Kristin Peck was feeling some pain during her team’s first tournament of the season, but it didn’t have anything to do with the play on the field.

Peck has been dealing with a kidney stone problem that struck during the Louisiana Classics Feb. 13-15 in Lafayette, La. Her Lady Bisons finished the tournament with a 3-2 record, good enough for runner-up honors behind the nationally-ranked Louisiana-Lafayette team.

“We feel like we really got off to a good start,” said Peck. “It took our bats awhile to kind of get into rhythm and get up to speed. “We opened up in tournament where we knew the competition was going to be pretty good. For us to come back 3-2 makes us feel pretty good about our start.”

One of the highlights of the tournament was the Lady Bisons game with Louisiana-Lafayette, a 4-2 loss.

“They are one of the toughest teams we will see all year, if not the toughest,” said Peck. “Our players fought so hard. I couldn’t have been more proud.

“You want to have the opportunity to win games like that and we were right there with them. We had the opportunity to win. Our players never backed down. They were so excited to be in that kind of atmosphere. There were great fans down there.”

Peck was also happy to see Christen Campbell open the season on a strong note with a 1-0 no-hitter over Louisiana Tech.

“Christen is somebody who was such a key player her freshman year,” said Peck. “She had to throw so many innings for us because of injuries to other people. Last year she was up and down all year long.

“For her to start out her first game with a no-hitter against pretty decent Louisiana Tech team says a lot. Christen pitched a great game. We also had some great defensive plays behind her.”

Freshman pitcher Whitney Kiihnl split her appearances with a 1-1 record.

Offensively, Kellie Sirus, making the transition from third base and the outfield to first base, started out strong with a .571 batting average in the first five games.

“Kellie had a great weekend,” said Peck. “She was on fire. Every time we needed somebody on base or a clutch hit it always seemed like she was up to bat.

“She played a great first base. She came up with some key snags and grabs on throws that we maybe not the best.”

Freshmen Caroline Mason, Vanessa Medina and Mollie Mitchell all looked strong as well in their collegiate debuts. Mason had some timely hits; Mitchell was solid at catcher and also led the team with four runs batted in. Medina batted .385 with two doubles and two RBI.

“Caroline came up with some big hits to get some rallies going,” said Peck. “Mollie did a great job behind the plate all weekend. That is something our team really has to have this season is consistency back there. She had some key hits late in the weekend that started rallies or brought in runs. It was good to see our freshmen start out so hot.”

Campbell and Sirus both earned all-tournament honors for their performances in the Louisiana Classics.

“That speaks volumes for them to start off that strong and how much they lead our team,” said Peck. “They lead the way every day in practice. In games we know those two are always ready to go. They lead the charge for our whole team.”

The Lady Bisons are in Atlanta this weekend for the Panther Invitational hosted by Georgia State Saturday and Sunday. The Lady Bisons will play Eastern Kentucky at 9 a.m. Saturday morning and Georgetown at 1:30 p.m. The rest of the games will be determined by who wins and loses.

“There are going to be quite a few games that could go either way,” said Peck. “One thing we talked about is we have to attack the ball more. I would like to see us start making adjustments sooner as opposed to the second half of the game.

“We don’t have a lot of depth. But we have a lot of versatility.”