NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Lipscomb Lady Bisons are knocking loudly on the door in three national softball polls, but coach Kristin Ryman would like to see her team climb higher.
In the College Sports Madness Poll they were ranked 25. They received 26 votes for inclusion in the USA Today/NFCA Division I Top 25 Poll and 12 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 Poll.
The Lady Bisons, 8-1 this season, are fresh off a 4-1 finish in the Getterman Classic at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. The Lady Bisons shutout Iowa, Drake and No. 14-ranked Baylor, and also posted a win over UAB in extra innings. The only loss was to Missouri, rated No.16 heading into the tournament.
Ryman enjoys seeing her team get votes for the top 25. She just wants someone to open up and let them in to the one of those 25 spots in each poll.
“We want to win,” Ryman said. “We want to play great softball. At the same time we want people to learn more about Lipscomb. We want to be in the conversations about the top 25. Right now, I think we are.”
She is happy with the way her team is playing, regardless of the rankings.
“Everybody wants to start strong and finish strong,” Ryman said. “We are trying to keep the girls focused right now.
“One of the coolest things is that we are not playing lackadaisical, but we are playing loose.
"They are having a good time. If they give up a run or almost give up a run you can see it in their faces when they come back in from the field. They want to get a bat and get that run or runs back. They have fight in them that is showing in how they play and the results.”
While the rankings are a way to measure success as a team, Ryman stresses to her players that the rankings cannot be their most important driving force.
“It is a benchmark…a milestone,” Ryman said. “We want to continue to turn heads. I think we can get in the top 25. I know our players think we can do it. There are a lot of things that drive the girls on this team. That is just one of them.
“I don’t think we need to get caught up in that. You have to shrink it down into one game. If we are trying to make it bigger than what it is, worrying about who is voting and what people are thinking about us then it becomes a problem.”
Since fall practice began Ryman has stressed the importance of the process in how to approach the game.
“Winning will take care of itself if you take care of the process,” Ryman said. “The fact that we have had a great start should help us. We have to stay confident in what we are doing.
“It has been an exciting start, but we want to stay level-headed. Whether we are just out of the top 25, or whether we are in the top 25, there is still work to be done.”
Ryman is hopeful that the process will also work in terms of getting noticed by those who vote on the top 25 polls. They already have quality wins over Virginia Tech, Iowa, Baylor and UAB.
“We have to keep winning,” Ryman said. “We have won against some teams known for their outstanding softball programs. That has turned some heads.
“We have been in the upper 30s in 2010 to 65 in the RPI. People are aware of us. But we have to make them more aware of us by scheduling tough and winning against those tough teams. We also need to beat the teams that we should beat, and then our record will speak for itself.”
This weekend the Lady Bisons play in their final preconference tournament at the Blues City Classic in Southaven, Miss. The Lady Bisons will face Appalachian State and Evansville Friday, Southeast Missouri on Saturday and Missouri State and Murray State on Sunday.
“I think our girls are going to continue to stay hungry,” Ryman said. “They want to find a way to get in the top 25. That is a goal for them.”