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Tuesday, January 12, 2010Lipscomb softball coach Kristin Ryman will have to wait and see how her five new recruits develop as softball players on the college level, but she already knows it is the tallest class she has ever recruited.
Three of the five, left-handed pitcher Ashley Anderson (6-foot-2), first baseman-pitcher Kristen Sturdivant (6-0) and catcher Haley Elliott (6-0) lead the height parade. Right-handed pitcher Jeneva “J.J.” Nelson is 5-6 and outfielder Shelby Cunningham is 5-4.
“I’m very excited about this class,” Ryman said. “The potential that the five bring to the table is huge.
“We have three six-footers in the group which is a little unique for us.”
Ryman plans to sign at least one more player for the 2010 class. Next year she will have to replace a talented group of seniors _ first baseman-third baseman Kellie Sirus, shortstop Abby Keese, center fielder Lauren Dortwegt, pitcher-third baseman Christen Campbell and pitchers Alaina Jacobson and Christy Grisham.
“We have to keep looking ahead,” Ryman said. “These five are going to show their youth at times like our current seniors did as freshmen.”
Cunningham is going bring a great deal of speed to the team combined with a strong work ethic. Cunningham plays for Wills Point High School in Texas. She is an all-around athlete with four letters in softball, two in track and field and two in volleyball.
She has served as team captain of both the volleyball and softball teams. She was named “District Co-Offensive Player of the Year” in softball and District “Defensive Player of the Year” in volleyball.
“She loved Lipscomb when she came here on her visit,” Ryman said. “That was such a huge key for her.
“She might play center field, but she might play left or right. She could potentially step in and be a No. 1 of No. 2 hitter for us. She has played on a summer team out of Texas that plays the best teams in the country in the summer and fall.”
Elliott is from Lexington, Tenn., and plays softball for Trinity Christian Academy. She was an All-State selection in 2009 and an All-Region pick in 2008 and 2009. She has lettered four years in softball and four years in basketball.
Her highest batting average for a season is .467. Her record for home runs in a season is 14.
“Her hitting ability is really what sticks out in my mind,” Ryman said. “She is going to come in and be somebody who can immediately hit in our lineup.
“She does a great job behind the plate. It will be fun to see Mollie Mitchell have the chance to work with someone who is younger and talented. She has a strong arm. She is a hard-nosed competitor. She loves the game.”
Nelson plays for Frontier High School in Perry, Okla. She was an All-State and All-Region pick in 2009. She also served as team captain. In addition to softball, she has participated in cross country, golf and cheerleading.
“J.J. knew nothing about Lipscomb before we sent her some information,” Ryman said. “She came to camp here from Oklahoma.”
Ryman and Lady Bisons pitching coach Lexi Myers evaluated Nelson and liked what they saw on the mound.
“She really impressed both us,” Ryman said. “It is very important that Lexi sees the pitchers we are recruiting. She does such a good job developing our pitchers.
“J.J. wants to learn and continue to grow. The first thing that caught my eye was the movement on her pitches. Every time she is on the field she expects to win. She has a Christen Campbell- type mentality on the mound.”
Sturdivant was an All-Region, All-Region Tournament and All-Metro selection at St. Benedict at Auburndale in 2009. She is from Bartlett, Tenn. She is from the same school as Campbell.
She is a three-time All-District and All-Metro team member. She is serving as team captain for 2010. She was the team MVP in 2009 and also the Region MVP.
“She brings a ton of potential,” Ryman said. “She can hit the fire out of the ball. She has all of the intangibles.
“We will work on some things with her quickness when she gets here. But she has all the potential in the world to be an outstanding hitter for us. She can start developing into that power role in the middle of our lineup.”
Anderson has been an All-Region and All-District selection in both 2008 and 2009 at Northgate High School in Sharpsburg, Ga., near Atlanta. She was the team captain in 2009. In 2009 she recorded 157 strikeouts and posted a 0.82 earned run average.
“We have not had a left-handed pitcher here since I played here,” Ryman said. “Her size and the fact that she is a lefty are huge bonuses for us.
“I really feel like Ashley is going to grow tremendously once she gets here. She has everything going for her. She wants to learn. She is very coachable.”
Written by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations