Lady Bisons look forward to the Purple and Gold Challenge
Thursday, February 28, 2013
By Mark McGee
Lady Bisons look forward to the Purple and Gold Challenge

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Lipscomb softball coach Kristin Ryman is doing double duty this week.

She is watching the skies almost intently as she is watching her team. The Lady Bisons will welcome three teams to Draper Diamond this weekend for the Purple and Gold Challenge. The biggest question is whether or not the weather is going to cooperate.

Predictions are for snow starting Friday and continuing through Saturday morning. An accumulation of one-half to an inch is possible in the Nashville area.

“We are going to keep a close eye on it,” Ryman said. “We are going to tarp the field. If we can get the games in we will. We will just gauge it as we go.

“The last thing we want for any of these teams, including ours, is to have silly injuries because we are trying to force it and play when the temperature is too cold. As much as you want to play, you have to be smart too. There comes a point where it is just miserable for everyone and we don’t want to risk that.”

The Lady Bisons are scheduled to play UTEP Friday at 4:15 p.m. Saturday they will face IPFW at 3:30 p.m. followed by a rematch with UTEP at 5:45 p.m. Sunday they close out the challenge against Tennessee Tech at 2:15 p.m.

This will be the fourth and final preconference tournament for the Lady Bisons.

“This is an opportunity to kind of jump start our home portion of the schedule,” Ryman said. “Playing in late February and early March is kind of hit-and-miss. But it is worth it to our girls to have the opportunity to play at home after we have been traveling for three weeks.

“It is fun for us to be able to host something here. And it gives us an opportunity to play some teams we might not normally get the opportunity to play. I think all three teams are going to be competitive. They are all teams that are like us. When they play well they are winning games.”

LU enters the challenge 7-8. What Ryman and assistant coaches Paige Cassady and Mollie Mitchell want to do is to drive the message home to the Lady Bisons that they need to realize just how good they are as a team.

After scoring seven first inning runs and losing 11-9 in eight innings to Wright State Wednesday afternoon, Ryman and her staff held a lengthy meeting with the team.

“They know how we need to prepare,” Ryman said. “It is just a matter of doing it.

“We need to see continued leadership from our older girls as far as showing the young ones this is how we prepare and how we do things. It is a state of mind.  We talked a lot about that after the game Wednesday night.”

Ryman reminded her players of the some key things to remember.

“Everybody is going to have to execute,” Ryman said. “We have to get key hits when we need them. We have to be able to make adjustments. We have to perform well defensively and pitch well in order to walk away with wins.

“They need to focus on playing and being prepared mentally and physically to play. At some point there has to be a choice made by them that they are a good team. They are going to make mistakes, but our older kids, especially, have to keep their composure in crunch time type moments.”

But the most important thing Ryman wants her players to know is that she and the rest of the coaching staff believe in them.

“We are their biggest fans,” Ryman said. “We want to see every one of them play and play well.

“We have to be able to coach them and tell them where their mistakes are and where they need to get better. They have to be open to hearing that and being realistic with themselves. We have said all along that this is a very special group, but there have been times this year that we have underperformed.”

Ryman stresses that the team has to focus on moving forward.

“We have more confidence in this group than groups that have come before them,” Ryman said. “We just have to raise the bar a little bit more.”