Fall ball gives first look at softball squad
Friday, September 28, 2012
By Mark McGee
Fall ball gives first look at softball squad

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -Fans of the Lipscomb Lady Bisons softball team don’t have to wait until next spring to get their first look at the team.

Saturday afternoon at 2 the Lady Bisons will welcome Belmont for a doubleheader at Draper Diamond.  Fans will also get the opportunity to see some of the new seating that is being added.

Lipscomb softball coach Kristin Ryman will be looking at a number of areas as the fall season begins. The Lady Bisons have undergone a rigorous offseason program and she is anxious to see how the results translate to a game situation.

“What we are looking for is to come out with a lot of intensity,” Ryman said. “We have really been working hard this fall  and doing a better job of raising our standards a little bit. I think the girls are taking to that.

“We are young with six freshmen and one transfer. We are obviously going to make some mistakes. But there is just a different intensity level from everyone this fall. For the young players it is a matter of where they want to go to this season and what do they want to accomplish over the next four years.”

Ryman thought that last year’s team may have been too comfortable with the previous successes of the program.

“There were maybe times when we could have pushed harder,” Ryman said. “We are really trying to push the girls to reach the limits they have set for themselves and to push beyond and see what is on the other side and see what this program as a whole is capable of doing.”

Ryman likes the way her players have responded to the new challenges.

“They have taken the push extremely well,” Ryman said. “I think that slowly, but surely, their expectation levels are increasing as well. They are raising the bar for themselves and not always giving themselves the easy way out. That has been fun to see.

“I have loved the pace of practice. We are pushing the tempo a little bit more. We are forcing them to think and execute when they are tired.”

The infield has experience with all four starters returning _ third baseman Rena’ Cothron, shortstop Bridgette Begle, second baseman Kelsey Cartwright and first baseman Kristen Sturdivant.

Center fielder Bree Thurman, one of only two seniors on the team, will anchor the outfield. Freshmen Brittany Elmore is challenging for one of the two remaining outfield spots. Heather Montgomery, another freshman, has shown a lot of athleticism in the outfield.

“Bree is really starting to understand the influence she has on the younger players,” Ryman said. “Mentality-wise Bree is starting to see what her role is on this team.

“Bree and Kelsey understand there is a higher expectation for the two of them because they are the oldest. They have been through the system and they know what to expect. They know what needs to happen for our program to get to where we want to get to this year.”

Mollie Mitchell started at catcher last season, but has graduated and is serving as a graduate assistant. Haley Elliott, still recovering from shoulder surgery, and Mickey Bell will be working to fill that position.

“Mickey has made a big leap as far as understanding what we are looking for and what our expectations are for her,” Ryman said. “She is not where she needs to be, but she comes out every day and works and works. She wants to be behind the plate every day. With Haley being out it has opened the door a little bit for Mickey.

“Once Haley does come back we are going have two really good options back there. They could both affect our line-up in really positive ways.”

Left-hander Ashley Anderson returns on the mound. She has been joined by freshman right-hander Tanner Sanders from Flintville, Tenn., and junior right-hander Heather Parker, a transfer from Wallace State in Hanceville, Ala. Sturdivant has also seen spot duty on the mound in the past.

“The bar has been raised for Ashley this year,” Ryman said. “When we watch her pitch we know there is another level with Ashley that has been completely untapped. That is what we are trying to get to with her. She is a competitor and we are going to continue to push her.

“Heather is mechanically the most sound of all of our pitchers. She is going to throw a good amount of innings for us.  She is a pitcher that is going to find a way to beat you. Tanner probably throws the hardest of all three. She has a ton of potential. She is eager to learn.”

Sunday afternoon the Lady Bisons will face former members of the team in the annual alumni game at 1.

Written by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations.