NASHVILLE, Tenn. – One of the more interesting fall scenarios for the Lipscomb Lady Bisons softball team is who will be the regular catcher.
Heading into Saturday’s noon doubleheader with Belmont at Rose Park, senior Rena’ Cothron is making a strong bid for the role. Cothron, primarily a third baseman with the Lady Bisons, caught in high school.
“Rena’ has improved so much behind the plate,” Lipscomb coach Kristin Ryman said. “She has worked so hard trying to win that spot.
“If you are not a catcher it is hard to appreciate how much work they do on a pitch-by-pitch basis. It is not just calling a pitch and sitting back there catching it. They are working with the pitcher on every pitch. They are communicating with their pitcher.”
Cothron is not a power hitter, but she is a thoughtful hitter and often runs pitchers to full counts. Her abilities at the plate will be a key area of consideration for Ryman as she makes a decision on a starting catcher.
“We don’t need her to be a power hitter,” Ryman said. “But if she is going to win the catcher’s spot at the end of fall and leading into spring she is going to have to hit.
“She knows that. We have talked at length about that. She is really working hard right now on the consistency of her approach. She is a patient hitter that works deep into a count and is confident deep into a count. She needs to have quality at bats.”
The Lady Bisons swept Tennessee State Sept. 28 with a pair of shutouts, but the overall hitting for the team was not what Ryman wants. She will be taking a close look at her hitters against Belmont.
“Our hitting last week was probably pretty representative of our first outing against an opponent other than ourselves in the fall,” Ryman said. “We are trying to deal with girls making in-game adjustments.
“In fall games other teams are making pitching changes more frequently than they would in spring games. Making those adjustments hitting is a little tougher than it is in the spring.”
Ryman saw a number of reasons why hitters might have struggled.
“I don’t know if I would say it was nerves, but we were trying to work out the kinks against pitchers other than our own and we were in a game atmosphere for the first time this fall,” Ryman said. “We were trying to think through some situational hitting and working on what pitches we are looking for in certain counts and certain situations.
“There is much work to still be done. We are looking for the girls to take a little bit of a step forward from last weekend. We have worked hard this week at recognizing pitches and trying to hit the ball where it is pitched.”
The mental approach to hitting is often overlooked, but Ryman stresses the need to be thoughtful at the plate.
“We are looking for the adjustments we have been asking them to make in practice,” Ryman said. “We want to see that transition in at bats in games.
“We don’t want them to overthink everything. We want them to learn from every at bat and try to get better. We want them to approach each at bat as a new at bat.”
Ryman has stressed that this fall she and the coaching staff are looking for the best nine hitters to put in the lineup.
“That doesn’t always equate to the most amount of power or the most speed,” Ryman said. “Sometimes it means we are putting the ball in play consistently and having quality at bats. It means we know how to strategically move a runner from base-to-base.
“It is really competitive right now. We have to find the nine or 10 hitters that can be in the mix and get it done.”
The Lady Bisons are back in action Oct. 9 when Trevecca Nazarene visits Draper Diamond for a 4:30 doubleheader.