Softball opens team practice with high expectations
Tuesday, September 22, 2015
By Mark McGee
Softball opens team practice with high expectations

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The motto for the Lipscomb softball team this fall is “every day counts”.

That was especially true Tuesday as the Lady Bisons held their first day of team practice.

The Lady Bisons have finished several days of individual workouts. Ryman thinks the players have a heightened sense of anticipation about the possibilities for the team for the 2016 season.

“There is just a different excitement about this team,” Lipscomb coach Kristin Ryman said. “I feel like our seniors have come into this year having a clearer picture of what is expected of them right off of the bat.

“Some of that is us as coaches making that a little clearer to them than we did last year. A lot of it is just them taking it upon themselves. They got together this summer and talked about expectations and what they wanted out of this year and how they wanted to approach the team from a leadership perspective.”

Ryman has seen a change in attitude on the field and she expects it to carry over from the fall to the spring.

“They have already set the tone that we are going to get out there,” Ryman said. “We are going to get work done. They are attacking everything with more of a purpose right now.

“It is making the flow of things that much better. The expectations are rising. They are holding each other accountable.”

There are seven freshmen on the team. Ryman likes what she has seen of the newcomers in terms of how they go about their business on the field.

“The freshmen are listening and being coachable,” Ryman said. “That is a huge thing in the fall. If our freshmen come in and they are not very coachable, and aren’t willing or open to change some things, it can be a long tough road for them.

“We expected them to come in here and be coachable but you never really know until you start working with them. I think a big reason they have been so coachable is the seniors. They have taken the freshmen under their wings in practice sessions and they are coaching them as much as we are.”

Ryman points to freshmen, Destinee Brewer and Kiley Aller, as examples of how the seniors have stepped forward.

“They are both slappers with a ton of potential, Ryman said. “But they are not polished yet. That is going to take some time.

“They are both so open to learning, not just from the coaches, but from their teammates. Brittany Elmore, Dee Baddley and Kasey Gibson have pulled them aside and worked with them.”

Saturday Ryman and her coaching staff will get a chance to see their players in game situations as Lipscomb plays host to Tennessee State at Draper Diamond at Smith Stadium for a doubleheader. The first game will start at noon. It is expected that each game will be eight innings.

“This is the first time we have played our first fall games at the end of the first week of practice,” Ryman said. “Usually we have a couple of weeks of team practice before we play.

“There are going to be some challenges, but it is also going to be exciting. We will practice for four days and throw them out there and let them play and get a clearer picture as to where we are.

Four pitchers, all right-handers, are scheduled to pitch in the two games. Seniors Tanner Sanders and Kelly Young, both Atlantic Sun All-Conference selections last season; will be joined by freshman Mandy Jordan and junior McCarley Thomas.

“It is really unusual to have two all-conference pitchers return,” Ryman said. “Having the experience from Kelly and Tanner is huge. They have the peace of mind of knowing what is ahead of them. They both had good years last year, but we know they can be better. We want to tweak the little things to have them take their games up another notch.

“We will be having live batting practice this week to give Mandy an opportunity to work against hitters. We are excited about what she is going to be able to do. She has a great work ethic. We want McCarley to continue the momentum she started with last season. “