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Tuesday, October 06, 2009Coach Kristin Peck likes what she is seeing this fall from her softball team.
The Lady Bisons have a goal of making the NCAA Tournament in the spring. Peck is using the fall practice and game schedule to fine-tune the team for the Atlantic Sun season. Wednesday afternoon at 4 the Lady Bisons are scheduled to play Volunteer State at Draper Diamond. Saturday Trevecca Nazarene visits to close out the fall games schedule.
“We will have team practice for a couple of more weeks after that,” said Peck. “We will try to work out some kinks and focus on the team situations we won’t really be able to work on again until January.”
While that extra fall work is nice, Peck admits that fall games pay the biggest dividends in terms of learning what her players can and cannot do.
“It really gives us an opportunity to see our players in live situations,” said Peck. “There are so many things we try to recreate in practice. It is difficult to sometimes without actually facing live pitching. After awhile our pitchers start to figure out our hitters and our hitters start to figure out our pitchers. So it is always good to see some outside competition.”
Peck took the Lady Bisons to Knoxville last week to play the University of Tennessee. Sophomore pitcher Whitney Kiihnl held the Lady Vols to one run for five innings. But as Peck started substituting late in the game the Lady Vols widened the lead.
“Tennessee has had a lot of success the last few years and has been to a World Series. I was very, very proud of the way we played the first five innings. They were very complimentary of our program and where we are. They feel like they could legitimately see us in a regional and that was great to hear from some from the outside looking in on our program.”
Peck has designed a tough schedule for the spring in terms of non-conference games and also expects the conference to be extremely competitive as well.
The pitching staff is deep with six working to be in the rotation. The roster overall has 20 players vying for playing time. “None of our pitchers had thrown a complete game,” said Peck. “I think they have all done a pretty good job…all of the young ones.
“Ali Watson has thrown some great innings for us. When she has had the opportunity she has put in some good work. Katy Ayers pitched Saturday in our Purple and Gold game. She wants the ball. She wants to be out there as much as anybody right now.”
Watson is a freshman and Ayers is a redshirt freshman who has made the transfer from Florida International.
Peck stressed that having six pitchers to choose from is a good problem to have with Kiihnl, the 2009 Atlantic Sun Freshman of the Year, serving as the anchor.
“The good thing about it is that we will, hopefully, not have to ride one pitcher," said Peck. "We would like to have all of our pitchers to still be strong and ready to go at the end of the year. We feel like Whitney is our top pitcher. That is not a knock on the others. We just think she is a little bit ahead of the game right now.
“Heading into spring we will have enough diversity and enough experience where we can mix any kind of combination together and not wear any of our pitchers out. We are going to keep working all six of them and see what happens.”
Returning pitchers from last season include seniors Christen Campbell and Alaina Jacobson.
One player working hard to find a spot in the rotation is senior Christy Grisham who has seen limited action in the past couple of seasons.
“Christy has had some good innings,” said Peck. “We are focusing on consistency and control right now. She has made some big time strides in the last couple of weeks.
“It is going to take a little time. She is taking it day-by-day. She is going to keep improving.”