NASHVILLE, Tenn. – When Lipscomb softball players put on their rally visors, they now include a fruitful adornment to accompany the cheers and enthusiasm in the dugout.
To help combat the effects of heat in southwest Florida the Lipscomb coaching staff stressed the need for players to be hydrated at a high level before they made the trip and to remain hydrated while they were there. Snacks were also furnished to give the players an energy boost.
Among those snacks were bananas. During the final ASUN road series at Florida Gulf Coast in Fort Myers the bananas gave the players a boost, but in an unexpected way.
“At some point during one of the FGCU games I look up and see players holding bananas and waving them around,” Lipscomb coach Kristin Ryman said. “People use the phrase `Go bananas’ and they were kind of playing off that.
“You have to create a positive, energetic environment. That is such a big part of our sport across the board. Softball players bring a lot of energy and enthusiasm.”
Pitcher Chloe Rogers, nicknamed “The Enthusiast”, decided the bananas were best used for cheering rather than eating.
“Chloe is a naturally energetic person,” Ryman said. “She provides so much of that energy in our dugout.
“She leads in there. She knows and understands how important it is for our dugout to be in on every single play and every single out. They help us celebrate every single out.”
With the rally cry of “Go bananas” the Lady Bisons swept FGCU and won the ASUN regular season championship. More bananas were purchased for the ASUN Tournament as the Lady Bisons once again went bananas on the way to the ASUN Tournament Championship.
Rogers plans to make sure the team has a supply of bananas ready for this weekend as the Lady Bisons play in the NCAA Tuscaloosa Regional at the University of Alabama. Lipscomb and Arizona State start off the three-day double-elimination tournament Friday at 3 p.m. followed by the Crimson Tide and Alabama State at 5:30.
“We wanted to end the series with Gulf Coast with a sweep,” Rogers said. “I didn’t want there to be a lull in our energy because you can definitely feel a lull and it translates into the other team picking up energy.
“So, I just grabbed a banana and said, `okay, let’s go bananas’. We started going crazy. We started scoring some runs. It became lucky for us.”
The Lady Bisons have won their last 13 games and 20 of their last 21. The philosophy for Ryman at this stage of the season is to stick with whatever works.
“We have charts we keep in the dugout,” Ryman said. “Some of them are fun little game-within-the game things. They are team-oriented and there are little tally marks we give to the team when we do things like make a certain type of play.
“The girls used to shout that’s ‘a tally’ and everyone would say `tally, tally’. Now every time we get an out it is ‘one banana, two bananas, three bananas’. It is so silly, but it is something fun and keeps them loose. We know our team and we play best when we play with a relaxed, positive attitude.”
Ironically, this is not a new idea for the Lipscomb softball program. Ryman points out the 2014 team, which went to the Knoxville Regional and advanced all the way to the final game against Tennessee started the banana phenomenon.
“They had no idea that the 2014 team did the exact same thing at the end of that season,” Ryman said. “I was coaching third base back then and I look over in the dugout and see Dee Baddley, Madison Wray, Rena’ Cothron and several other players dancing and waving bananas in the dugout.
“Right before the start of our final meeting before the ASUN Tournament I told them about the 2014 team. They felt this tie with another team that has been there and done that. They have rallied around each other. They are giving their best efforts.”