MACON, Ga. – The Atlantic Sun Conference announced its 2012 preseason all-conference softball teams and rankings, Wednesday. Lipscomb placed two on the all-conference team and was picked to finish second by the coaches.
Seniors Whitney Kiihnl and Caroline Mason were named to the preseason all-conference team, giving Lipscomb multiple preseason honorees for the fourth season in a row.
“Both of these girls are incredibly deserving of this honor,” said Lipscomb head coach Kristin Ryman. “They were both all-conference selections at the end of last season, and we feel very confident in their abilities to lead us back to the top of the A-Sun again this year.”
Kiihnl is a preseason honoree for the second year in a row. The 2010 A-Sun Pitcher of the Year and NFCA third-team All-American was second-team all-conference last season after posting a 20-11 record, 1.69 ERA, 328 strikeouts and held opponents to a .170 batting average in 211.1 innings pitched. She was second in the conference in strikeouts and opponent batting average, fourth in wins and sixth in ERA.
In fan voting, Kiihnl was named the Preseason Pitcher of the Year, besting Jacksonville’s Sarah Sigrest by more than 40 votes on the A-Sun’s Facebook page.
"Whitney is one of the most exciting pitchers to watch in the A-Sun,” Ryman said. “She knows she is not a secret anymore, and because of that, she is aware that she may have to work to win games differently than she has in the past.
“She is just a piece of the puzzle for our team this year. We don't need her to be a hero...we just need her to do what she does and let the rest take care of itself...one pitch at a time. She is a great teammate, always puts the team first, and naturally helps people smile and laugh. We expect her to have a lot of fun this year."
Mason earned her first preseason recognition after being named to the A-Sun first-team in 2011. She led the Lady Bison with a .307 average, nine home runs (eighth in the league), 10 doubles and a .586 slugging percentage, adding 25 runs batted in for good measure.
“Caroline is another big piece of our puzzle,” Ryman said. “She is a competitor and really had a breakout season last year. She has found her consistency as both a hitter and outfielder, and her game continues to get better and better. She will again play a key role in the middle of our order, and has a great presence in the box.
“Caroline wants to win as much as anyone we have, and she has found ways to respond to those on-the-field challenges. We have a tremendous amount of confidence in the role she will play on our team this year."
As a team, Lipscomb was picked to finish as runner-up to defending champion Jacksonville. The Lady Bison picked up one first-place vote and 90 total points on the ballot, compared to nine first-place nods and 99 points for Jacksonville.
“Over the past three years, this program has done some amazing things, and it is no coincidence that these two girls have been right in the middle of it,” Ryman said. “Ultimately, we have a team full of girls who are talented and fun to watch, and we can't wait to challenge them with a tough schedule again this season. We believe in this group as much as any we have ever had."
The regular-season begins Feb. 10 in Mobile, Ala. in the Mardi Gras Tournament. Lipscomb will face Jacksonville State, Mississippi State, second-ranked Alabama and host South Alabama in the three-day tournament.
Check back on Lipscombsports.com for more information on the Lady Bisons softball team, and be sure to like us on Facebook (Lipscomb Softball) and follow us on Twitter (@LU_Softball).