FORT MYERS, Fla. – When Lipscomb coach Kristin Ryman revealed to her team the Atlantic Sun postseason honors for her players at the end of Tuesday afternoon’s practice session she made a statement that may prove to be prophetic.
She expressed how proud she was of Atlantic Sun First Team selections Paige Neely and Kelly Young, Second Team selections Brittany Elmore and Tanner Sanders and All-Freshman honorees Abby Fenichel and Caitlin Plocheck. But she quickly added that the team is so balanced with talent that players who were not honored could possibly earn All-Tournament honors.
“I am not one to make a huge deal out of that,” Ryman said. “I am proud of our girls for getting those honors. I wanted them to have that moment in front of the team.
“But I know that all six of those girls would tell you they have been able to do what they have done this season because of the team around them. It is about the unselfishness of the players around them and the moments when they have not done so well and the other players have picked them up.”
In Thursday morning’s 1-0 win over No. 6 Stetson Baylee Williams was the only player with two hits, a pair of singles. Gracey Aguirre singled and eventually scored the only run in the game on a single by Plocheck.
“That is the thing that is so special about this group right now,” Ryman said. “I feel like at any moment anybody can get it done. It is exciting for us to know we are performing that way right now.
“Yes, we have some players that are really good. But we have been so balanced all year long. We have the kind of team that could win this tournament and have three or four girls who didn’t make all-conference make the all-tournament team.”
In addition to Aguirre and Williams Ryman also points to Brianne Welch, Mimi Cartwright and Laura Dukes. So many players are capable of making the big play in the field or connecting for the clutch hit.
“We have some people who weren’t on the all-conference team playing some of their best softball right now,” Ryman said. “We have some people that might surprise in the way they step up. But we are not going to be surprised.”
It will be a case of all hands on deck the rest of the tournament. For the Lady Bisons the road to the Atlantic Sun Conference Championship is blocked by USC Upstate.
Upstate, the No. 1 seed in the tournament, rolled over No. 4 seeded North Florida 13-1 in five innings Thursday afternoon. The win sets up a showdown with the Lady Bisons at 11:30 CT at the FGCU Softball Complex.
The Lady Bisons are 30-23. Upstate is 41-8.
The game will be televised live on ESPN3.
SCOUTING USC UPSTATE
The Lady Bisons were 1-1 against Upstate on the road this season. After losing game one of a doubleheader 10-5 the Lady Bisons rallied for a 9-0 win in the nightcap behind the pitching of Tanner Sanders. The third game was canceled due to weather issues.
Ryman credits the shutout win with elevating the Lady Bisons in the latter part of the season. Their eight-game winning streak started with that 9-0 win.
“That was a huge boost for this team,” Ryman said. “It was kind of a turning point.
“The girls on the team really started believing and see what we are capable of doing.”
In tournament play the Lady Bisons are 4-4 against Upstate.
In the North Florida win Upstate scored seven runs in the third inning, tying a tournament single-inning record. The Spartans recorded 13 RBI, a new tournament single-game record.
Every Upstate batter connected for at least one hit.
Karla Beasley, the A-Sun Freshman of the Year, drove in five runs in the North Florida win. Shellie Robinson was named A-Sun Player of the Year. Lexi Shubert, who recorded her 31st win against North Florida, is the A-Sun Pitcher of the Year.
- The Lady Bisons have been part of five 1-0 games this season. They are 3-2 in those games.
- Pitcher Kelly Young has recorded eight or more strikeouts 12 times this season.