COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – To paraphrase and slightly alter a Yogi Berra saying, which is a challenge in itself, “it ain’t so bad to play in the field if nothing’s hit to you”.
The Lipscomb Lady Bisons have been putting up some impressive numbers this season, but if there is a concern it is the consistency of the defense. And in softball it is difficult to avoid the ball eventually coming to you.
“I really think the games we struggle the most in are games where we have some breakdowns,” Lipscomb coach Kristin Ryman said. “That is a big point of emphasis this week for us a team. We need to make sure we play defense with that sense of urgency we have seen at times this season.
“Defense can be a tough thing to work on this time of the year. You have some players banged up. You have some players that are sore. We are right in the middle of that grind. You don’t want to overdo it with the throwing and the running, but you also want to make sure you are ready to go.”
Ryman knows that errors can occur, but she is looking for consistency in the field.
“There are some mistakes that are a part of the game…every team is going to make mistakes,” Ryman said. “Obviously, the goal for every team is to limit those mistakes and not have them happen at an inopportune time.
“More than anything right now we need to control the things we can control. We don’t want to have a physical mistake then have a mental mistake on the same or next play. We have to maintain our composure.”
In a quick turnaround the Lady Bisons will be playing at Tennessee Tech Tuesday in a doubleheader beginning at 2 p.m. Tennessee Tech, from the Ohio Valley Conference, is 8-15 this season. They beat Kent State 5-2 Sunday in the Georgia Tournament in Athens.
The Lady Bisons are 19-4. They lost 5-3 Sunday in an Atlantic Sun Conference game with Florida Gulf Coast, but won the series 2-1.
The Lady Bisons are led in hitting by Paige Neely and Brianne Welch. They each have a .390 average.
Neely also leads the team in hits (32), runs (22) and doubles (6). She is second in runs batted in with 19. She is also second in stolen bases with seven on eight attempts.
Welch leads the team with a .610 slugging percentage.
Seven of the nine regular hitters in the lineup are batting .304 or higher and also have 11 or more RBI. Kristen Sturdivant has been adding the power with a team-high four home runs and a team-leading 21 RBI.
“I’m not really worried about this team offensively,” Ryman said. “Offensively, we hit the ball O.K. this past weekend. We just didn’t get the clutch hits. Unfortunately, that is going to happen every once in a while.”
Ashley Anderson, 8-0, leads the pitching staff with a 1.16 earned run average. She is holding opponents to a .170 batting average. Tanner Sanders is 7-2 and Heather Parker has a 4-2 record.
“We would like to find a way to get all three of them in at Tennessee Tech at some point,” Ryman said. “We will see how they all feel.”
Tennessee Tech is led by Madison Taylor with a .284 average.
In the circle Hannah Weaver is 3-6 and Danielle Liberatore is 3-5. Taylor Ketchum, 1-3, and Erica Tuck, 1-1, round out the staff.
“It is kind of hard to tell how we will match up with them,” Ryman said. “There a lot of things they do well.
“They have a gritty team. They fight. It will be a good challenge for us. They have the capability at any moment to win a lot of games.”
The goal in practice Monday was to set the proper tone in everything that is done on and off the field.
“We talk about being test in mid-week games and making sure our approach is where it needs to be,” Ryman said. “We need to do everything in both practices and games with a purpose.”