FORT MYERS, Fla. – It is just the start of the ASUN Softball Tournament for the Lipscomb Lady Bisons. However, they are all about how they are going to finish.
Thursday morning at 10 a.m. CDT the top-seeded Lady Bisons will face North Alabama at the FGCU Softball Complex. The Lions were an 8-5 winner over No. 5 seed Kennesaw State in a game concluded after a three-hour rain delay Wednesday night.
Lipscomb, 38-13-1, has won 10 games in a row and 17 of the last 18. North Alabama, 26-18, has won its last four games.
The Lady Bisons were rewarded with a first-round bye along with second place finisher Liberty.
“There is a lot to be said for playing your best softball at this time of the year,” Ryman said. “We haven’t always done that.
“This year we have put the emphasis on finishing…finishing a game, finishing a drill in practice, finishing an at bat or a play in a game. It has been about finishing a weekend game and finishing the season.
“If they don’t understand that mentality, we are never going to do what we want to do in a tournament. The last few years we have been a team that has gone on home early and that didn’t go as far as it could. That is the reason we have put such am emphasis on finishing this year.”
This is the first ASUN Tournament for North Alabama, a new member of the conference.
Lipscomb took two out of three games from North Alabama in the regular season winning 4-1 in the series opener and 13-2 in the finale in five innings. North Alabama won the middle game 5-4.
“We won every final game in an ASUN series,” Ryman said. “That is something our players have let us challenge them on. They have taken it to heart.”
A great aid for the coaching staff has been a book “The Power of a Positive Team” by Jon Gordon. Players have been reading the book a chapter at a time. Wednesday night during a team meeting there was a discussion of a chapter.
“We get together and chat about it,” Ryman said. “It was a great book for this team because there are so many great nuggets in it. I think it impacted them by making points about a few key things.
“If you want to be a positive team then you genuinely want to be happy for one another and you genuinely want to connect with your teammates. If you connect then there is trust and that is where true bonds are built.”
North Alabama has quickly become comfortable playing for the first time on the NCAA Division I level.
“UNA is a strong team that is playing well in all phases of the game right now,” Ryman said. “We know it will be a battle and like we have all this season we will be playing one pitch at a time.
“For us this is not a new season, but a continuation of what we have done all year. We are ready to get back on the field together. This is another opportunity for these girls to play the game they love with the people they love.”
- Megan Garst, 16-5, of North Alabama was named ASUN Pitcher of the Year and won the game with Kennesaw State.
- Lipscomb’s Hannah DeVault, the ASUN Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year, leads the conference in runs batted in (50) and doubles (20). Her doubles total is also fifth in the nation. She is batting .338 with nine home runs and a .637 slugging percentage. Her fielding percentage is .971 with only five errors at second base.
The tournament continues through Saturday with times determined by the weather and opponents decided by wins and losses.
The winner earns the ASUN’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.