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Softball looks to bounce back against KSU, Mercer
Kristin Ryman
Kristin Ryman

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

With six Atlantic Sun games remaining in the regular season, the Lady Bisons have found themselves in an unfamiliar territory--second place.

As Lipscomb attempts to defend its record-breaking 50-win championship season, they are in need of help from some other teams in order to have a chance to repeat their regular season title.   

The Lady Bisons (23-17, 10-4) would need to win every remaining conference game and still need Jacksonville to lose two games in order to clinch first place.   

Lipscomb has won the Atlantic Sun regular season two out of the last three seasons.  However, as nice as it was to finish the regular season on top, Lady Bisons head coach Kristin Ryman said the most important thing is for the team to be in a position to make a run in the tournament.

“I think this team is ready to go,” Ryman said.  “They want to find a way to get that one or two seed in the conference.  Jacksonville has positioned themselves pretty well at the top, but the one and two seeds in our conference get a bye this year in the tournament.  That is the goal right now and it starts with Kennesaw State this weekend.”

Lipscomb will look to bounce back after dropping three out of four A-Sun games last weekend on the road.  The Lady Bisons will begin an eight-game home stand Thursday night against the Kennesaw State Owls.

The Owls (26-20, 8-6) are currently in third place among the teams eligible for the A-Sun Tournament.  Ryman said Kennesaw State has been an explosive offensive team this year.

“Kennesaw State hits extremely well from top to bottom throughout their order,” Ryman said.  “They have got some veterans and they also have some youth.  There are multiple players in their order that can hit the long ball.  They keep the pressure on constantly throughout the entire game.”

Lipscomb’s junior right-handed ace Whitney Kiihnl lost both games she started last weekend.  Ryman said she knows exactly how Kiihnl will respond.

“Last week Whitney Kiihnl had a little bit of an off week,” Ryman said.  “She is the type of player that I fully expect to bounce back and do what she is capable of.”

The Lady Bisons number two pitcher this season has been sophomore Ali Watson.  She received her fifth win of the season against Stetson on Saturday.  Ryman said Watson has become a dependable pitcher to rely on in the second game of double-headers.  

“To be honest, going into this year she was a pitcher that we were unsure how many innings we would be able to get out of her,” Ryman said.  “She has worked and worked to be at the point where she is now.  She is definitely a number two for us right now.”

“She has been that bright spot to give us that shot in every game two of our double-headers.  She has kept us in a lot of games against a lot of really talented teams.”

Lipscomb will take on Mercer on Friday in a double-header following Thursday night’s bout with Kennesaw State.  Mercer is 24-20 on the year with a 6-8 conference record.  

“Mercer is a team that can put it all together at the right time and get big wins,” Ryman said.  “They have two veteran pitchers that they rely on and some youth in their lineup.  They are going to be a team to be reckoned with.”

With this weekend’s four A-Sun games being the start of an eight-game home stretch, Ryman said she was pleased to come back to the confines of Draper Diamond.  

“Our girls love playing at home,” Ryman said.  “They love being here.  It kind of calms the nerves because we are back in our environment and on our field where we are comfortable.”

Thursday night’s contest against Kennesaw State begins at 5 p.m. central and can be heard for free on the Lipscomb Sports Network.  It will also be televised on A-Sun TV.   Friday’s games against Mercer start at 4 p.m.