NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Lipscomb Lady Bisons softball team has a big weekend planned if the weather decides to cooperate.
Rain and possible storms are predicted this weekend.
Saturday at 3 p.m. the Lady Bisons are scheduled to play Tennessee State at Draper Diamond at Smith Stadium. Sunday at 2 p.m. the Lady Bisons have scheduled their annual alumni game. Approximately 15-20 former players are expected.
The Lady Bisons will only play one game against TSU. The length of the game has not been set, but it could last from eight to 10 innings.
“It will be more than seven innings,” Lipscomb coach Kristin Ryman said. “We will do free substitution. It is another good opportunity for us to mix everyone in.
“We are going to mix up the defense. We want to see some of our different options.”
The Lady Bisons are coming off a pair of wins last weekend in Hendersonville against Roane State and Martin Methodist.
“We want to continue to build upon the improvements we have already seen,” Ryman said. “Megan Smith is working on some very specific things with our pitchers that we want to see in games a little bit more.
“Offensively, we didn’t face the strength of pitching last week that we would normally see. But this week we are facing a Division I team that we will also see in the spring. It will be a good test to see where we are offensively and defensively.”
Tanner Sanders has put together solid numbers in the circle for the Lady Bisons this fall. Kelly Young, a transfer from Arkansas, is getting acclimated to a new team. McCarley Thomas has earned praise in her appearances. Taylor Neuhart rounds out the staff at this point in the fall.
“With Tanner the goal is to keep finding little ways to help her improve,” Ryman said. “I know mechanically there are couple of fixes she was working on earlier this fall that are starting to click for her. In the long run those adjustments are going to make her a better pitcher and allow her to continue to grow.”
Ryman likes the progress Young is making. She is working with Smith on changes in her pitching style.
“She is transitioning really well,” Ryman said. “She did some good things this past weekend.”
Thomas is making a push for a bigger role in the rotation after seeing very limited action as a freshman last season.
“If the season started today McCarley would be our No. 3 pitcher,” Ryman said. “She has made some huge strides from last year. We want to see her continue to grow in confidence and continue to get better.
“Every once in a while we will see those little glitches in her game. But overall she has done a fantastic job of trying to keep it simple and do what she is asked to do in any given moment.”
Neuhart, also a sophomore, is also getting in some time in the circle this fall.
“Right now the biggest challenge for Taylor is taking the things she is doing well in the bullpen and transitioning that into games,” Ryman said. “A lot of it is the mental side for her. She has to trust her game mode.
“She is a very intelligent person in the classroom and on the field. She is going to be very effective in the role she is in. We want her to be able to come in and throw three-to-four innings and be a different look from our other pitchers.
In addition to Smith the Lady Bisons pitchers are also working with Ivy Renfroe, a volunteer assistant on the staff. Smith is calling the pitches for all four.
“All our pitchers are working hard on getting ahead in counts and limiting walks,” Ryman said. “They are working on attacking the strike zone and trusting what they are doing in the bullpen and being able to trust their stuff once they are in game mode.
“We want to see if we can shut out an opponent. Individually they all have performed their roles well, but as a group can we shut out another D-1 team? Winning is the ultimate goal but the next step is can we limit free passes and defensively how will we limit the pressure on our pitchers.”