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Softball ranks in NFCA top 10
Thursday, October 2, 2014
By Mark McGee
Softball ranks in NFCA top 10

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Lipscomb Lady Bisons softball team finished in the top 10 in the National Fastpitch Coaches Association rankings of NCAA Division I All-Academic Teams.

The Lady Bisons completed the 2013-2014 academic year with a 3.559 grade point average. It is the highest ranking for the team, surpassing a No. 13 rating in 2012.

"I am really proud of our girls and what they stand for,” Lipscomb coach Kristin Ryman said. “We have tried to create a system within our program of accountability in all areas. We have very high standards for our players academically, but they are the ones who do the work.

“This is a very cool honor. We set a goal of being a stronger academic team than we were in 2013, and we did it."

The University of Nebraska-Omaha was the top ranking team with a 3.67 GPA.

"We put a great deal of emphasis on academics here at Lipscomb, and our players do a fantastic job in the classroom,” Ryman said. “We recruit strong student-athletes, but we also have a great built-in support system once they arrive on campus.

“I think it speaks volumes as to the quality of work our players put in to have twelve of them finish the year with a 3.5 GPA or higher.  Our players realize that there is a real world waiting for them after graduation, and majoring in something they are serious about and can pursue a career in is vital."

The Lady Bisons were the only Atlantic Sun Conference team in the top 10. They were also the highest rated university in the state of Tennessee.

They finished just behind the University of Kentucky which posted a 3.56 GPA to finish in ninth place.

The Lady Bisons were No. 33 in final RPI for 2014 season and No. 10 in grade point average. It was the best combo for a mid-major in the nation. The only schools that had a better combination of RPI and GPA were DePaul from the Big East (No. 27 RPI, No. 7 in GPA) and Kentucky from the Southeastern Conference (No. 10 in RPI, No. 9 in GPA.

Ten of the 12 who earned spots on the All-Academic Team are returning players  - Brittany Elmore (Elementary Education), Dee Baddley (Family Relations), Madison Wray (Spanish/French), McCarley Thomas (English Education), Tanner Sanders (Elementary Education), Becca Dean (Business), Brianne Welch (Journalism and New Media), Kasey Gibson (Corporate Management), Paige Neely  (Restorative Criminal Justice) and Taylor Neuhart (Elementary Education). They were joined by graduates Kelsey Cartwright (Masters of Special Education) and Ashley Anderson (Exercise Science).

"Lipscomb is ultimately a place where class sizes are small and our students get a lot of personal attention,” Ryman said. “Our professors are incredible at working with our athletes without lowering the standards for success.

“Graduating from Lipscomb - a school with a very high academic reputation - is impressive.  Employers all over the Southeast are ready to hire Lipscomb students immediately upon graduating....that speaks to the product that we are putting out in both preparation and character."

Several players are preparing for careers in education and Lipscomb’s program ranks No. 2 in the nation. Ryman gives a great deal of credit to the support staff at Lipscomb in the area of academics.

"One of the best parts about 'Our Team' is our support system.  Without the help of people like Dr. Lin Garner (Associate AD for Academics), Brian Mast (Senior Director for Student Success) and all of our professors, success in the classroom would be much harder to come by.  They deserve a lot of credit as well.

"For student-athletes looking for the best combination of academics and softball in the country, we are right up there with the best.  When you add to that the Christian mission of Lipscomb, and the city of Nashville, we don't believe there is any better place to be."