There may be talk of frost on the pumpkin this weekend, but the Lipscomb Lady Bisons softball team is going to get a preview of what spring may bring.
When the Lady Bisons hit the field Sunday afternoon for a 1 p.m. doubleheader at Middle Tennessee State in Murfreesboro coach Kristin Ryman will get her first real look at three freshmen, one transfer and a red-shirt freshman who will be making her debut.
The first game is slated for 10 innings. The second game will be seven innings.
The four freshmen are Jordan Abell, Gracey Aguirre and Brianne Welch. Infielder Kelsey Cartwright is a junior transfer from Auburn. Pitcher Ashley Anderson was a red-shirt last season after injuring her shoulder during the Christmas break.
“We are introducing the new players to our system and getting them to understand how we play here and we do things here,” Ryman said. “For the most part everything has been great.
“I feel like every single player on this team could play a good number of innings this year. Whether that happens or not is going to depend on what happens between now and spring, but the talent is there.”
Cartwright, who is from Joelton, Tenn., and played for Goodpasture will play in the infield, with both shortstop and second base as possibilities.
“Kelsey is already showing leadership qualities,” Ryman said. “She is going to continue to grow in that role.
“She is, by nature, a shortstop from her high school and travel ball days. She played all over the infield at Auburn. She is a true competitor. She is always doing extra work.”
Anderson, a 6-foot-2 left-hander, will be teaming on the mound with senior right-hander Whitney Kiihnl. She appears to be healthy and her velocity is noticeably better after working with pitching coach Lexi Myers.
“She is going to probably be in a crucial role for us,” Ryman said. “She is learning very quickly. She was there for every workout and practice. She listened and watched and had a full year to take it all in.
“She is starting to work on her different pitches. She is working on her consistency and getting her movement back on her pitches. She has shown as much drive as anyone on our team. She wants to learn. She wants to get better.”
Welch is projected to be an outfielder for the Lady Bisons. She played second and third bases in high school.
“All three of the freshmen are hard workers,” Ryman said. “They want to earn spots and absorb everything we are throwing at them. Brianne is a perfect example of that.
“She is very quick and we want to take advantage of that quickness. She has played in the outfield in travel ball. She has caught on very quickly to our hitting system.”
Aguirre is a versatile infielder who can play third and first. She can also catch. She has impressed with her defensive abilities. She is expected to challenge sophomore Rena’ Cothron at third.
“Gracey has a great arm at third base,” Ryman said. “She is a very instinctive player. She is not splashy or showy as a player. She just gets the job done.
“She has some pop in her bat. She could be a very good doubles hitter who could also add some home runs.”
Abell is a versatile player with experience as an infielder, outfielder and catcher.
“We are going to work with Jordan primarily at second base, but we may work with her some at third and in the outfield,” Ryman said. “She is quick. She is a sparkplug type of player. She gets dirty. She is not afraid to get after it.
“She is really starting to catch on hitting-wise. She is going to come in right away and compete with two outstanding middle infielders. She will be challenged to look for ways to improve her game every single day.”
Written by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations.