It’s nice to know that being No. 1 means that your team has won the regular season championship. But Kristin Ryman, the A-Sun Coach of the Year, knows being No. 1 is no guarantee of success. Back in 2008 Ryman won her first A-Sun Coach of the Year honor and the Lady Bisons were the top seed. They lost two games on the first day and were done.
"The seeding doesn't help you a whole lot unless you continue to win,” Ryman said. “We are glad that we have done the work all year long to be in this position, but we know that come tournament time, especially in the A-Sun, seeds don't mean a whole lot.”
The Lady Bisons are 18-2 this season in the A-Sun. Kennesaw State is the only team in the tournament that has beaten the Lady Bisons during the regular season.
The Lady Bisons will practice Wednesday morning. They arrived here late Tuesday afternoon and had a team dinner at the Main Street Grill.
Thursday morning the Lady Bisons, 44-10 overall, will face Campbell, the No. 6 seed, at 10 a.m. on the campus of Stetson University. The Lady Bisons have never faced Campbell, the tournament champion the past two years, in a postseason game. Campbell is 23-29-1, 10-10 in the conference.
“We are going to face off against a good Campbell team that we just saw a couple of weeks ago,” Ryman said. “They are playing well as of late.
“Everyone knows that they are the two-time defending champions, but to be honest, that does not mean a whole lot to us. Last year was last year, and this year is this year.”
The Lady Bisons will have six first team All A-Sun players on the field led by sophomore Whitney Kiihnl, who won both A-Sun Player of the Year and Pitcher of the Year. She was A-Sun Freshman of the Year last season.
“Campbell is going to present a lot of challenges with both their hitting and pitching, but we feel confident with our team right now,” Ryman said. “We want to go in and control the things that we can control.”
The A-Sun Tournament is double-elimination. The Lady Bisons are 2-8 in the tournament, advancing to the semi-finals in 2009. The seniors have played in the tournament all four years. This is the fifth postseason trip for the Lady Bisons in the last six years.
“We have been in the one-game-at-a-time mindset all year, and I don't expect that to change now,” Ryman said. “Every part of our game has been strong.
“We have some big time experience on the field, and these girls are focused on one thing right now...and that is Campbell.”
In the infield the Lady Bisons start senior first baseman Kellie Sirus, senior second baseman Abby Keese, sophomore shortstop Courtney Billington and senior third baseman Christen Campbell. Sirus, Billington and Keese are All A-Sun team members.
Kiihnl will start on the mound. Sophomore Mollie Mitchell, also an All A-Sun pick, is the catcher.
The outfield is anchored by senior center fielder Lauren Dortwegt, an All A-Sun selection. JuniorMackenzie Tucker is in left and sophomore Caroline Mason is expected to start in right.
“This team has been up for the challenge all year though,” Ryman said. “They know we still have some unfinished business ahead of us, and we are excited about where we are going into this postseason. We are stronger, deeper, more confident, and more experienced than we have ever been at this point in the season."
Written by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations.