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Tuesday, April 15, 2014
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Lipscomb Lady Bisons are 30th in this week’s NCAA Division I Softball RPI, the highest ranking in the history of the program.
The Lady Bisons also are ranked 25th in the College Sports Madness Poll for this week. They received three votes in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 and one vote in the USA Today/NFCA Division I Softball Poll.
“Being in the top 30 in the RPI is something that we shoot for every year,” Lipscomb coach Kristin Ryman said. “It is a big deal to be 30th. That is basically saying we are one of the top 30 teams in the country. We have been in the top 40 all season long.”
While the teams the Lady Bisons are being ranked with are impressive, Ryman doesn’t want her players to become too interested in the RPI situation.
“We want our players to go out and play,” Ryman said. “We want them to understand how the RPI works. But at the same time we want to be the ones as coaches to focus on it a little bit more.
“To find little ways to keep inching up is a good thing. We schedule tough and we are being rewarded for that. Being in the top 30 is where you want to be near the end of the season. That puts you in the conversation a lot more in discussions about at-large bids for the NCAA Tournament.”
Ryman stresses the goal of every team in the Atlantic Sun is to win the conference tournament and earn the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. This week USC Upstate is 27th in the RPI. Mercer is 43rd and Stetson is 49th.
“We want to give ourselves every opportunity to reach the point where we can go to the NCAA Tournament,” Ryman said. “This team has worked very hard.
“I feel like we are kind of hitting our stride again. We started out so strong and then in the middle part of the season we were still winning some games, but we didn’t see the same spark. We were hitting that rut.”
Ryman thinks her players have elevated their play in their last couple of weeks even though there have been some injuries to deal with.
“We are incorporating more individual workouts this time of the year instead of more team practices,” Ryman said. “In the game of softball you can benefit from individual workouts as much as you can full team practices.
“Hitting is individualized in terms of what they need to work on. They can get more done in a 30-to-45-minute individual workout than they can in an hour-and-a-half of team hitting during a full practice. We are trying to find any way possible to keep our players as fresh as possible.”
As a team the Lady Bisons nationally are 16th in won-loss percentage (.791), 29th in scoring (6.02 runs per game) and 43rd in both batting average (.308) and doubles (1.44 per game).
Individually on a national level senior left-handed pitcher Ashley Anderson is 28th in victories (17), 38th in shutouts (five) and 44th in earned run average (1.67).
Junior third baseman Paige Neely is 11th in the nation in sac flies with four. Kristen Sturdivant is 50th in walks with .7 per game. Brittany Elmore is 51st in runs per game (.95).
The Lady Bisons, 34-9, 14-6 in the conference, travel to DeLand, Fla., this weekend to face Stetson, 29-8 overall, 13-4 in the A-Sun. Game dates and times have been changed due to the Easter weekend. The two teams will play a doubleheader Friday at 11 a.m. and a single game Saturday at 9 a.m.