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March 01, 20171234567RHE
Wright State3000011590
Win: THOMAS (3-3) 6.085538
Loss: SHARP (2-5) 3.056641
GUNTHER (WSU) 312100
Younger softball players are taking advantage of opportunities
Tuesday, February 28, 2017
By Mark McGee
Younger softball players are taking advantage of opportunities

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Lipscomb softball team has learned this season that depth is more about quality of play than it is the number of players on the roster.

At their healthiest best the Lipscomb softball team has a roster of 16 players. This past weekend they finished 4-1 at the Troy Classic with 13 players available for most of the games.

“In our first Troy win we came back from a pretty good deficit and won in eight innings and we used every position player we had,” Lipscomb coach Kristin Ryman said. “We continued to do that the rest of the weekend playing every position player that was healthy.

“What has been crazy about this year is that even though our numbers are low we have players coming off the bench who can hit, play defense and do a variety of things well and could legitimately be starters for us every day.”

Wednesday afternoon at 3, weather permitting, the Lady Bisons, 10-5, will play their first home game of the season against Wright State, 2-8, at Draper Diamond at Smith Stadium.

During the recruiting process Ryman is careful not to promise players they will start as freshmen. However, it was expected the middle of the infield would be anchored by a pair of first-year players – second baseman Hannah DeVault and shortstop Peyton Ward.

“Peyton and Hannah don’t really play like freshmen,” Ryman said. “At times they make a mistake here or there and every player is going to do that.

“But the way they play on a daily basis is why they have won those two spots. It is exciting because I know the future is bright with them. We know offensively and defensively what they can do and we believe in them.

Freshman outfielder Abby White, pitcher-first baseman Chloe Yeager and pitcher Megan Gray, redshirt freshman Jenna Pealor, along with sophomore infielder-outfielder Khayla Green, were also expected to see time in the field in various roles.

White has played in nine games, five as a starter. Green has been in the lineup for 13 games, eight as a starter. Gray has made three appearances, all in relief.

“Abby White had more of a reserve role early on, but she has the ability to be a starter for us,” Ryman said. “She has stepped in and is doing a good job for us.”

Yeager pitched 10 innings at Troy and did not allow a run on the way to a 2-0 record, all in relief.

“Chloe has been a work in progress,” Ryman said. “We were in a position where we wanted to get a feel for what she could do before we got into conference play.

“She threw well against two different opponents. I think she has earned herself potentially a bigger role as we move forward this season. She is going to give us some key innings in relief. It is neat to see a freshman accept the challenge take advantage of the opportunity.”

Green can play a number of positions and also provides offense and base running skills.

 “Khayla is a very good athlete,” Ryman said. “We brought her in to play shortstop last year, but she can also play in the outfield which is what she has been doing for us.”

Pealor has played in 13 games, starting eight. She has spent time as the designated player as well as at first base.

"It is good to see Jenna out there," Ryman said. "She has stepped in and adjusted well after being off last season."

Gray has made three appearances, all in relief.

“There is so much for us to work with for Megan as a pitcher,” Ryman said. “We have just seen the tip of the iceberg. We have huge excitement about her future.

“She spins the ball well. She has the demeanor you want as a pitcher. It is just a matter of her consistency as she grows and develops as a pitcher. She reminds me of Mandy Jordan last season.”

Ryman and her staff seek the most talented players possible each season, but they like versatility.

“Our goal every year is to bring in freshmen who not only can compete, but have the ability to come in here and start,” Ryman said. “Starting positions are for players to earn when they get here. Whether that happens or not is up to them.”

Next up: Lipscomb remains at home this weekend to host the Purple and Gold Challenge Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The field features Eastern Illinois, Valparaiso and Stony Brook.