NASHVILLE, Tenn. – She is the first player at the plate for the Lipscomb Lady Bisons in every game. In her role Elmore is the one expected to set the pace for the softball team.
Right now, as the Lady Bisons prepare for the 2014 season opener Friday afternoon against Virginia Tech, her place in the batting order is the only one set in stone.
“When Brittany Elmore gets on base we are as deadly as any team out there,” Lady Bisons coach Kristin Ryman said. “That puts a lot of pressure on her.
“But I think the top part of our lineup is going to be very dynamic as far as our ability to run, hit to gaps and drive the ball out of the park. It is a top of the order that I think, quite frankly, most teams are not going to want to see.”
Elmore will be in the leadoff role, the same position she held in the order as a freshman last season. Elmore was a member of the Atlantic Sun All-Conference Team and a unanimous member of the A-Sun All-Freshman Team in 2013.
Elmore led the conference in stolen bases with 36 last season, setting a school record. She was second in the A-Sun overall in hits with 70 and was 10th overall in batting in the conference with a .340 average.
Elmore is a member of the A-Sun Preseason All-Conference Team and also was named to the “College Sports Madness” All-A-Sun Team.
The challenge for Elmore is to duplicate or better her performance from her freshman season.
“When you come in and have a really good freshman year a lot of people think that a player is set for her career,” Ryman said. “That is not always the case.
“Sometimes I think the hardest thing to do is to follow up on a really good freshman year because you have to find ways to better your game. To have that much success early on is a good thing, especially for building confidence, but you hit your sophomore year and you are not a surprise any more. Everyone knows what to expect out of you.”
Ryman points out that Elmore has spent a great deal of time in the fall, and in the preseason since returning for the spring semester, to find new ways to improve her overall play.
“Brittany is very analytical,” Ryman said. “She dissects things, especially with her hitting. Sometimes that can hinder her. But at the same time that is what makes her great.
“She has worked very hard on trying to find those little things in her game offensively to really propel her forward and make her an even more dynamic lead-off hitter.”
Elmore is opening the season in centerfield. Last season she started all 59 games, 43 at second base and 16 in right field.
“Defensively, she is making the transition to center for us and that comes with its challenges after playing mostly second base last year,” Ryman said.
Center field is a key position, but Elmore’s impact on the offense is where she is the most valuable to the team.
“Brittany is the table setter,” Ryman said. “When she gets on base, good things happen. She is a weapon immediately whether she is stealing bases or just running when the ball is in play.
“She is always forcing the defense to have to think twice about what to do. That is why we have her in that leadoff spot. I think she is going to have a good season for us again.”
The 4 p.m. game with the Hokies at Draper Diamond at Smith Stadium will close out the first day of the Music City Classic, a tournament co-hosted by Lipscomb and Belmont.
Saturday the Lady Bisons will play two games facing Miami (Ohio) at 2 p.m. and Tennessee State at 4:30 p.m.
Sunday the Lady Bisons close out the weekend when Butler visits for a 1:30 p.m. game. All games are subject to changes in the weather conditions.
“Virginia Tech is a team we have had some success against,” Ryman said. “They are a team that is on the national stage. They are always in the top 25 or receiving votes for it.
“People know they have a good softball program. It will be a great early season test for us to get a feel of where we are against a bigger name team. It will be the first gut check with our players to see how we are going to take the field and what our demeanor will be like against an opponent that has had some success.”