NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Hitting for power is always a good thing. Hitting for average is equally as desirable. But when a team can do both and mix in some speed on the bases paths as well it is a perfect storm your opponents must deal with.
In the first three weeks of the season the Lipscomb Lady Bisons softball team is stepping up to the plate in all those ways.
Heading into this weekend’s Purple and Gold Challenge the Lady Bisons have six players batting .313 or more. Freshman Katie Turner leads the way with a .421 average.
Jordan Fortel is hitting .392 followed by Peyton Ward (.360), Destinee Brewer (.342), Sarah Higgins (.320) and Hannah DeVault (.313). Khayla Green at .282 and Graysen Gladden with a .278 percentage are knocking loudly trying to reach the .300 level.
“We have a veteran group,’ Lipscomb coach Kristin Ryman said. “And with a veteran group you also have a confidence level as you get older of not panicking in the moment anymore, knowing what is ahead of you and going after it.
“I feel really good about what our lineup is doing at the plate from top to bottom. That doesn’t mean we are not going to have some bumps in the road. I like what our hitters are bringing to the table.”
The Lady Bisons through 15 games have slammed 35 doubles, three triples and five home runs. To put that in perspective Lipscomb hitters recorded 63 doubles, four triples and 32 home runs for the entire 2018 season.
“I’m really impressed with our doubles numbers,” Ryman said. “We are already over halfway to our total from last year. We graduated Abby Fenichel and Caitlin Plocheck, two of our best doubles hitters last year.
“Some players have already exceeded their doubles totals from last year. Our speed is pretty good so if we hit a ball in the gaps or down the line, we can stretch singles into doubles. I will take a runner in scoring position right off the bat over a single.”
In the speed realm the Lady Bisons have stolen 27 bases led by Ward and Abby Davis with six apiece. They finished with 73 in 2018.
“In the offseason we really challenged our speed kids to focus more on their on base percentage than their batting averages,” Ryman said. “We want them to get on base any way they can.”
- In softball or baseball, the tie goes to the runner, but when a game ends in a tie there is literally no winner. Sunday’s 8-8 tie with Elon in the Unconquered Invitational at Florida State was the first tie in the NCAA Division I era for Lipscomb.
- "Elon had travel restrictions with a drop-dead game time of 12:15 (CST),” Ryman said. “We went into it knowing that. Neither team wanted that. It is a little bit frustrating to play seven innings and end in a tie. Neither team got gipped. We knew what it was coming in.”
- Ward has been the lead-off hitter for the past seven games and is batting .318 (7-for-22).
- "As athletic as she is, Peyton has never really been a lead-off hitter,” Ryman said. “She is not used to the role right now. We have told her to embrace it. We don’t want her to change her approach at all. She is getting on base. Peyton is a hybrid hitter. She has speed, but she can also hit with power.”
Due to concerns about the weather this weekend the Purple and Gold Challenge schedule has been changed. Lipscomb still plays it first game Friday afternoon at Draper Diamond against Appalachian State at 3. But Sunday’s game with Eastern Illinois will now be played at 5:30 Friday.
Saturday the Lady Bisons face Miami (Ohio) at 12:30 and Eastern Illinois at 3.
There will be no games Sunday unless the weather forces additional changes.