The Lipscomb Lady Bisons have been picked be finish the 2010 softball season as both the regular season and tournament champions in the Atlantic Sun Conference.
Senior first baseman Kellie Sirus has projected as the A-Sun Player of the Year. She joins infielder Abby Keese on the A-Sun Preseason All-Conference Team.
The Lady Bisons received five first place votes and 111 total votes. Campbell was close behind with 106 votes, six for first place.
Lady Bisons coach Kristin Ryman is pleased that her team has been honored, but she knows that preseason predictions often do not hold up at the end of the season.
“This is recognition and a prediction,” Ryman said. “That’s all it is.
“It shows the respect that coaches have for both us and Campbell. Campbell had more first place votes than we did so that could have gone either way.”
The Lady Bisons are returning 13 letter winners and all of their starters from last season. They finished 39-14 overall in 2009. They were 15-5 in the A-Sun, finishing in third place.
“This is a message to our team that we are not going to surprise anyone,” Ryman said. “We are going to have a target on our backs. We are going to get the best that other teams have to offer. Even non-conference teams when they do their research on us are going see that we have been picked in preseason to win the A-Sun.”
The Lady Bisons do bring back a great deal of experience, but Ryman knows that every team in the conference is competitive and that one or two injuries can get even the best team off of the winning track.
“Every team in our conference is good enough to finish in the top six and qualify for the tournament,” Ryman said. “Any team in the conference can beat any other team.”
The winner of the conference tournament is equally difficult to pick in preseason.
“Two years ago we were the No.1 seed in the tournament,” Ryman said. “But when the tournament begins you can throw the seeding out.”
Sirus was an A-Sun First Team All-Conference selection last season. Keese was named to the All-Conference Second Team.
“I don’t think this puts any pressure on either one of them,” Ryman said. “They both know they are surrounded by a team full of great players.”
Last season Keese was joined by pitcher Whitney Kiihnl, catcher Mollie Mitchell, center fielder Lauren Dortwegt and designated player Christen Campbell on the All-Conference Second Team.
Kiihnl was named “Freshman of the Year” and also was on All-Freshman team with Mitchell, second baseman Courtney Billington and outfielder Caroline Mason.
“Dortwegt has put up outstanding numbers, but she is competition with some other great outfielders in the league,” Ryman said. “Campbell is a gamer. Billington, Mason, Kiihnl and Mitchell all are still young.
“This makes a statement about the depth of program. We can’t depend on just one or two players. That doesn’t work in softball. But no matter what the predictions are we still have to go out there and get it done.”
Written by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations