|February 06, 2015||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||R||H||E|
|Win: SANDERS (1-0)||7.0||2||1||1||0||7|
|Loss: Kelley (0-1)||3.2||6||5||3||3||3|
|February 07, 2015||1||2||3||4||5||6||R||H||E|
|Win: YOUNG (1-0)||5.0||0||0||0||3||8|
|Loss: Boetjer (1-2)||4.0||5||5||2||1||2|
|Del Toro (IUPUI)||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|February 08, 2015||1||2||3||4||5||6||R||H||E|
|Win: STEINBACH (1-0)||6.0||7||2||2||1||6|
|Loss: YOUNG (1-1)||5.2||11||13||7||2||3|
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Lipscomb Lady Bisons begin their 20th season of softball this weekend as they co-host the Music City Classic.
The Lady Bisons will welcome Missouri-Kansas City, Georgetown, Ball State, Indiana State, IUPUI and South Dakota to Draper Diamond at Smith Stadium.
The first game Friday between Georgetown and Indiana State is scheduled to start at 11 a.m. Ball State and South Dakota play at 1:30 p.m. followed by Missouri-Kansas City and Lipscomb at 4.
“We are looking forward to hosting all these teams that are new on campus,” Lipscomb softball coach Kristin Ryman said. “We are tired of playing against each other. We are excited about starting the season.”
Saturday’s opening game has Ball State and IUPUI getting the early wake-up call at 9 a.m. Ball State will play Indiana State at 11:30 a.m. Lipscomb plays two games facing IUPUI at 2 p.m. and Indiana State at 4:30 p.m.
Sunday IUPUI and Georgetown will play at 12 p.m. with Lipscomb and Ball State closing out the weekend with a 2:30 p.m. game.
Not so affectionately known among some players as the Music City “Freeze Fest”, the fourth edition of the event is expected to be played in almost early spring-like conditions with highs in the 50s and 60s.
“We have been following the weather closely and we are really excited,” Ryman said. “It looks really, really great from a temperature standpoint.”
Ryman and her staff have been putting together scouting reports on all of their opponents in the classic. The Lady Bisons are without seven players from last year. Ryman is more concerned about what her team is going to look like in its first games than she is what her opponents may bring to the table.
Ryman’s team, which won 41 games last season and earned an at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament, has a different look. And Ryman stresses the look of the team, especially on defense, may have many different alignments with most players expected to get various levels of playing time.
“When it comes down to game one we want to go with experience and confidence and people who are going to give us the best chance to start off the right way,” Ryman said.
Third base is being shared by sophomore Mimi Cartwright and freshman Abby Fenichel.
“We have gone back and forth between them,” Ryman said. “I think both will play some third this weekend.
“While both of them are very talented there, and they both do some great things, we will probably go with Mimi to begin with.”
Senior Paige Neely moves from third base to shortstop. She is a veteran player and is a unanimous preseason All- A-Sun selection.
Junior transfer Baylee Williams will start at second base.
“Baylee has a lot of range defensively and probably has the best backhand of any player on our team,” Ryman said. “She has a small frame but she hits with power. She can hit home runs, but she could be a doubles machine.
“She has a chance to really be a shutdown second baseman for us. She and Paige really work together well in the middle of the field.”
Freshman Caitlin Plocheck is expected to get the start at first base.
“She is another one of those hitters that just takes her hacks and has a lot of power,” Ryman said. “She has a ton of ability to be a great hitter at this level.
“Defensively, she brings quickness about her to first base. She doesn’t smile on the field. She just goes about her business. We are anxious to get her into games.”
Senior Laura Dukes, a transfer from Middle Tennessee, will be the catcher. Fenichel is also a catcher and could split some time there.
“Laura will catch the majority of the games,” Ryman said. “She has a ton of power from the left side of the plate. Like Baylee she can also hit a lot of doubles.”
Senior Brianne Welch returns in left field.
“We love her defensively out there,” Ryman said. “She has great closing speed. She is just a go-getter. She really attacks the ball out there. When you combine her with Brittany Elmore in center it makes it tough for balls to drop on the left side of the outfield.”
Elmore is known for speed on the base paths, but she can also use her speed and quickness effectively in the outfield.
“Brittany didn’t make a single error in the outfield last season,” Ryman said. “She has grown so much as a centerfielder. You have to have someone there who wants to play that position. A lot is asked of a centerfielder. “
Gracey Aguirre, who was sidelined after 24 games last season with an injury, appears to ready to return to right field. Ryman credits Aguirre and trainer Hilarie Buck for their hard work in making her return possible.
Junior Tanner Sanders returns on the mound. Kelly Young, a junior transfer from Arkansas, will also be a starter. Ryman is not sure which one is No. 1 and which is No. 2. Sophomore McCarley Thomas is also expected to get some work, primarily in relief.
The designated player could be Fenichel, Cartwright or Aguirre.
“Abby is mainly a catcher, but she has versatility,” Ryman said. “She could be at third base, right field or catcher. We have known all along since fall she was going to have a spot offensively. “
PRESEASON HONORS: The Lady Bisons have been picked to finish second by the coaches in the Atlantic Sun.
Neely, Elmore and Sanders were all selected as preseason first team all-conference. Neely was a unanimous selection.
CONNECTIONS WITH MEGAN RHODES SMITH: Lipscomb pitching coach has connections with a couple of coaches who will visit Draper Diamond at Smith Stadium this weekend.
Natalie Brock, an assistant coach with UMKC, is from Brentwood, Tennessee. She is a graduate of Ezell-Harding and played two seasons at Tennessee as a teammate of Rhodes. She is also a former head coach at Battle Ground Academy.
Ball State coach Tyra Perry, in her second season, was the former head coach at Western Kentucky. Rhodes was part of her staff for one season.
SCOUTING UMKC: This is the first time the Lady Bisons have played UMKC.
“They return their pitching and a couple of key hitters from last season,” Ryman said.
SCOUTING INDIANA STATE: Indiana State holds a 4-1 series advantage over the Lady Bisons. Indiana State has won the last four meetings including a 3-1 decision in 2011. It is the last time Indiana State has faced an A-Sun team.
Indiana State returns eight starters and two pitchers. The Missouri Valley Conference team posted its first ever winning season last year.
“They stole 100 bases last season,” Ryman said. “They have a lot of lefties in the lineup. They have a team that likes to put pressure on the defense.”
SCOUTING BALL STATE: Perry directed Ball State to the Mid-American Conference title in her first season.
Ball State leads the series 3-1. The last meeting was a win for the Lady Bisons, 3-1 on March 25, 2012.
The Ball State roster is missing four of the top hitters from last season, but the top pitchers return including right-handed pitcher Nicole Steinbach.
“Ball State is traditionally a very solid hitting team, but have to overcome the loss of four players from last year,” Ryman said. “Tyra Perry does a great job. She has her two top pitchers back. It will be a challenging game for us.”
SCOUTING IUPUI: IUPUI is picked in preseason to finish fourth in the Summit League with 14 letter winners returning. Two players to watch are Ali Mosier and Taylor Chitwood.
“Based on last year the strongest part of their game is their hitting,” Ryman said. “They return a lot of key hitters.”
The three-day event is co-hosted with Belmont.