Thursday, January 10, 2013
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Lipscomb softball coach Kristin Ryman received an unexpected gift in December when infielder Paige Neely transferred to the program after spending a year with Austin Peay State.
Neely batted .363 as a freshman at Austin Peay, the second highest average on the team last season. She connected for nine doubles, tying for second on the team, and added one home run. Her .452 slugging percentage was third highest on the team. She started in 45-of-46 games.
Defensively, she finished with a .954 fielding percentage. She made only nine errors at shortstop.
She was named Second Team All Ohio Valley Conference and was also named to the conference All-Newcomers team.
Neely started school at Lipscomb this week and is immediately eligible to play this season. She has quickly fallen in love with the campus.
“The atmosphere is a lot different here,” Neely said. “It is really nice. I wasn’t really happy at Austin Peay. I am in an environment that I like now. That will be good for me.
“You walk around campus and people smile at you. I’ve noticed that faculty and staff members will pass by me and say, `hi, good morning’, or `hi, how are you?’ That is really different. I am not used to that. It has been awesome.”
Neely was a standout at Goodpasture Christian School. She also played club softball on a high level with the Tennessee Elite Gold and the New Jersey Inferno Gold.
The first few days of the spring semester have been a whirlwind for Neely as she deals with a new school, new classes, new coaches and new teammates.
“It has been extremely tough, but I feel really welcomed,” Neely said. “I have been here for four days, but the girls aren’t treating me like I am new. I feel very comfortable. I’m not really nervous because I feel so comfortable.”
Neely is a Law, Justice and Society major. She wants to one day work in the field in law enforcement and is especially interested in Homeland Security or the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Ryman is happy that Neely has quickly found a home on the Lipscomb campus.
“I hope this will be a pretty easy transition for her,” Ryman said. “Having gone to Goodpasture she is familiar with the Christian atmosphere and is very comfortable with that aspect of the school.
“I feel like, from that regard, she is going to fit in extremely well with the type of player or person that we want on this team.”
Neely, a sophomore, is also a former teammate of two Lady Bisons - Kelsey Cartwright and Brittany Elmore.
Neely is a left-handed batter who usually hit in the No. 1 or No. 2 slot for Austin Peay. Neely is not a “slap” hitter. She struck out 14 times last season and finished with a .405 on-base percentage, third highest on the team.
“I feel like the experience she had last year at Austin Peay is going to pay off for her as she moves to our program,” Ryman said. “She played a crucial role for them last year.
“She does fit in well with the type of player we need offensively. We have a decent amount of power. We have a lot of speed. We need hitters that are going to consistently find a way to get on base. She is a singles, doubles, gap-to-gap type hitter.”
Neely could see time at second, shortstop, center or right field.
“I will do whatever they want me to do,” Neely said. “I am just grateful for the opportunity.”
Ryman will have to quickly determine where Neely will fit in.
“She is very versatile defensively which fits right in with the type of player we try to get,” Ryman said. “She has a lot of experience in the middle infield and some experience in the outfield. She fields the ball well. She is an athletic player.
“She has a strong arm. We will give her a look in center. I am interested in seeing her range, quickness and her reads on the ball out there. Right field could be a fit because of her arm.”
Written by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations.