NASHVILLE, Tenn.-Lipscomb Lady Bisons softball coach Kristin Ryman will welcome six new players for the 2013-14 academic year.
There are two main themes for this class - versatility and pitching.
“Our goal is always to bring in players who can immediately step in and challenge our older girls,” Ryman said. “If they are talented enough to play at a young age, they are going to gain a ton of experience and make our program better down the road.
“Our plan with this class was to focus on good athletes and pitching. We are losing two of our best all-around athletes in Kelsey Cartwright and Bree Thurman, and we wanted some versatile players who could fill multiple roles for us.”
One of the additions is Mikayla “Mimi” Cartwright, Kelsey’s sister. Both of her parents are also Lipscomb alumni. Mimi, 5-foot-5, fills the versatility role as a third baseman, second baseman and outfielder. She plays for Goodpasture Christian School where she won the team most valuable player award in 2012. She has been named TSWA All-State, 2012 MTCA AA All-Middle Tennessee and First Team All-Midstate.
“Mimi is a true utility player and will immediately be able to fill multiple roles for us,” Ryman said. “She has extensive experience playing both third base and middle infield, has the athleticism to play outfield, and has also pitched at every level.”
“Mimi is a very consistent, finesse type of player who has a lot of natural athleticism. She will be able to drive the ball well to all fields, which will allow her to contribute and be a factor in our lineup early on in her career. Ultimately, she will be that player who will challenge everyone all over the field to get better because she can do so many things well.”
Mimi is also accustomed to winning. While at Goodpasture she has played on one Class AA State Championship team and two State-Runners-up.
“She is a great fit for us,” Ryman said. “We are excited to see Mimi grow and develop more in our system, and we look for her to come in and challenge right away.”
Rebecca “Becca” Dean, 5-6, is an outfielder-second baseman from Liberty-Benton High School in Findlay, Ohio. She set school records in 2012 for batting average (.612), stolen bases (43) and runs scored (37). Her career stats are a .531 batting average with 106 stolen bases and 95 runs scored.
She is also exceptional in the classroom with a 4.0 grade point average.
“Becca just recently made her decision to attend Lipscomb, and we are very excited that she did,” Ryman said. “She is a speedy utility player who will add depth to both the outfield and middle infield.
“We will look for her to compete mostly in the outfield with her ability to read the ball and get good jumps. Becca is also a lefty hitter which will give us options with our lineup. We are excited to have more players in this class that can put pressure on the defense with their speed, and Becca will be a base-stealing threat every time she gets on.”
Dean is a three-time team MVP, three-time All-District performer and three-time team captain. She has also been named to the All-State team once.
“She is a leader by example and quietly goes about her business and gets the job done,” Ryman said. “Like our other signees, she is also a great student and will impact our program with her work ethic.”
Kasey Gibson, a 5-5 outfielder from Churubusco High School in Churubusco, Ind., is expected to make an immediate impact.
“Kasey has great speed and has experience playing all three outfield positions which makes her immediately valuable,” Ryman said. “At the plate, she is a lefty slapper who is very smart and able to get on base in multiple ways. She is a table-setter type of player who has great discipline and works extremely hard to improve her game.”
She is an NFCA Second-Team All-Region Player in 2011 and 2012. She was a first team All-State selection in 2012. For the past two seasons she has served as team captain.
Gibson is a career .533 hitter and is second on the all-time stolen base list in Indiana.
“Kasey will be a very coachable player, and to us that is one of the best qualities a player can have,” Ryman said. “She understands the game and has a great approach at the plate. She knows how to go to the plate with a plan and execute…again, a great quality to have as a young player.
“She has been well-trained and has been very steady and successful against the best. Kasey knew she wanted a smaller school, and once we were able to get her on campus, she fell in love with Lipscomb. Overall, she is a great fit for our program…she is a great person, a strong student, and a player who will make our program better.”
Whitney Jordan, 5-9, is expected to be an impact player in the middle infield. She is a shortstop-second baseman from Athens High School in Athens, Ala.
She has won a number of honors. In 2011 she was the Alabama 5-A Hitter of the Year, an Alabama Super All-State and 5-A All-State team member. In 2010 she was also a member of the 5-A All-State Team.
“Whitney is a strong, athletic middle infielder who will impress with her defense, and she is a power-hitting right-hander who will compete in the middle of our lineup,” Ryman said. “Whitney possesses quick hands at the plate and has a lot of homerun potential at this level. She has a feistiness about her hitting that will add a spark to the way we play.
“She is a tireless worker, and through the recruiting process, we were consistently impressed with her overall athleticism and how she plays the game. She knows how to win, and we are excited to see how much more she can improve at the next level. Whitney will be a fun player to watch for years to come.”
The Lady Bisons are always searching for ways to bolster the pitching rotation. Ryman and her staff are confident they have found two good prospects to join Ashley Anderson, Tanner Sanders and Heather Parker.
Taylor Neuhart is a right-handed pitcher who can also play first base. She plays for Hayfield Secondary School in Alexandria, Va.
“Taylor will bring nice diversity to our staff,” Ryman said. “She is an extremely hard worker with nice movement and a great change. She is going to be a great complement to the pitchers we already have, and will have the ability to either start or pitch in relief. She knows how to enter in relief in tough situations and get outs, and that is rare for an incoming freshman.”
Neuhart, 5-6, is a two-time All-Region and three-time All-District performer. She was the team MVP in 2012 and returns as the team captain for 2013.
She struck out 240 batters in 2012 and has six no-hitters in her high school career.
“Taylor is very coachable which is going to allow her to get better quickly,” Ryman said. “On top of her pitching, Taylor has the ability to hit and play a good first base.
“She is a smart player who will be a true student of the game. Taylor knew that Lipscomb was the place for her when she arrived in Nashville and walked on campus. She will be a great fit for us, and her versatility will potentially allow for her to be more than just a pitcher.”
McCarley Thomas is also a right-handed pitcher with experience as a first baseman. She plays for Lipscomb Academy and is from Brentwood, Tenn.
“When we think about McCarley the first word that comes to mind is potential,” Ryman said. “She has a tremendous amount of ability and is working to get every ounce out of her 6-1 frame.
“She has had a few setbacks over the last year, but we feel that with more advanced instruction, she can grow leaps and bounds at the next level. She is a hard-throwing right-hander with really good raw tools. She also has experience hitting in the middle of the lineup, and we look forward to exploring her power potential at this level.”
She is a three-time All-District team member and was All-District Player of the Year in 2012. She also served as team captain in 2012.
“McCarley wants to learn and is another player that is extremely coachable,” Ryman said. “She has a great work ethic, and that shows in every aspect of her life. She is very familiar with our campus and the expectations of our program. We are thrilled to welcome her family into ours.”
One of Ryman’s main goals in recruiting has been to build team depth. She likes the options these new players provide.
“Everyone has their “off” days, but our goal is to put the best nine hitters in the lineup every game,” Ryman said. “The more versatile they are defensively, the better chance we have to adjust and have a solid lineup every day.
“Our depth is getting better and better to the point where we have really great options coming off the bench. That is something that separates good teams from great teams. When you have players that are going to challenge each other every day in practice, the competitive edge builds and the bar is raised. We are not going to settle for finishing in the top half of the A-Sun…our goal is championships and consistent trips to the NCAA Tournament.”
Written by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations.