BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – They play in two different conferences, but their coaches are friends and the rivalry has been fierce, particularly the games since 2010.
Tuesday afternoon, weather permitting; the Lipscomb Lady Bisons will be traveling to Birmingham, Alabama to face UAB from Conference USA in a doubleheader. The first game is at 4 p.m. The nightcap is slated for 6.
“We have a fun rivalry with UAB,” Lipscomb coach Kristin Ryman said. “They have created a lot of consistency in their program as far as getting into postseason. They don’t have big drop-offs from one year to the next.
“It is always fun to play them. We know they have a great chance of getting into the postseason every year. We want to continue to make our team better. We love playing not only quality teams, but teams that play the game the right way. UAB is one of those teams.”
The two teams played four times in 2010. They split a doubleheader and then faced each other two more times in the NCAA Regional in Tuscaloosa. The Lady Bisons won both games in the regional and advanced to the finals against Alabama.
Ryman and UAB coach Marla Townshend are long-time friends. They decided to renew the series in 2010 after a few years of not playing.
“It is not a far drive,” Ryman said. “It is a mid-week doubleheader that is easy for either team to do. It helps us RPI-wise and completion-wise to play each other.
“We had not played in a while so we thought in 2010 it would be good for both programs to start playing each other again. We have respect for each other’s programs.”
The Lady Bisons are coming off three wins in the Courtyard by Marriott-Brentwood Purple and Gold Challenge. They head into UAB with an 8-9 record. UAB is 14-5, including a win in their only game at home this season.
“I thought we did a good job of securing the wins,” Ryman said. “It was a crappy weather weekend, but it was good to be back home.
“We are finding ways to win now. That is one of the biggest takeaways from the weekend. We are competing better. We had more fight this weekend than what we had been seeing.”
Ryman points to the personality of this team as being one that is very low key.
“We are trying to get that extra little bit of enthusiasm and energy out of them,” Ryman said. “The girls that are non-starters for us do a terrific job of bringing as much energy as they can every game.
“It is humorous in some ways that we have so many starters on the field who are low-key and just go about their business. Sometimes that is great in a player, but you don’t want every player on the field to be that way.”
Ryman is challenging the team to be a little more intense on the field.
“They are all passionate about what they are doing, but they need to show that a little bit more,” Ryman said. “We have to remind them a lot to talk between pitches and interact with each other.
“So much of that is the personality of this team. Even off of the field they are a very low-key kind of team.”
SCOUTING UAB: The Blazers are 10-6 overall against Lipscomb. They have won five of the last seven meetings. Last season the two teams split a doubleheader at Draper Diamond at Smith Field with the Lady Bisons winning game one 2-1 and losing the second game 5-3.
UAB has a pair of players batting more than .400. Sara Beth Williamson leads the team with a .451 batting average, 22 RBI and six home runs. Caitlin Attfield is hitting .448 with a team high 18 runs and six doubles.
UAB has won its last eight games.
CONFERENCE RANKINGS: Brittany Elmore leads the Atlantic Sun in stolen bases with 14. She has not been thrown out stealing this season.
Kelly Young, who won her second A-Sun Pitcher of the Week award for the season this week, is second in strikeouts with 50. Tanner Sanders is third with 48.
ON DECK: Weather permitting the Lady Bisons will host Tennessee Tech in a single game Thursday March 5 at 3 p.m. at Draper Diamond at Smith Stadium.