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Tuesday, May 11, 2010The Lipscomb Lady Bisons domination of the Atlantic Sun Conference continues.
Sophomore pitcher Whitney Kiihnl was named conference Player of the Year and was the unanimous choice as conference Pitcher of the Year by a vote of A-Sun coaches and sports information directors.
Lady Bisons coach Kristin Ryman, who has guided the Lady Bisons to the A-Sun regular season championship, was named A-Sun Coach of the Year. She also won the award in 2008 when the Lady Bisons tied for the regular season title.
Kiihnl has a 28 wins overall and is 11-0 in A-Sun games. She has five shutouts, including a perfect game against Austin Peay Feb. 26.
She was a five-time A-Sun Pitcher of the Week this season.
“I am so happy for Whitney,” Ryman said. “She has put together an unbelievable year both in the circle and at the plate. I couldn’t be more proud of her.
“With as many good players as we have, she still stands out. I think she is very deserving of both awards, and I think it is cool that the coaches in the A-Sun think the same way. Whitney is truly one of the most well-respected players in our league. I think the most exciting thing for us is that we get her for two more years.”
She has been the leader nationally in NCAA Division I in earned run average for most of the season with a .71.
Kiihnl also doubled as a designated player this season, batting .361, fourth highest overall in the A-Sun.
“She has done it all for us this year,” Ryman said. “She is obviously a huge reason why we have started to get some national attention.
“For her to go from not even hitting in our lineup to being one of the top hitters is impressive. She is a phenomenal athlete and has worked extremely hard."
Six Lady Bisons were named to the All A-Sun First Team. Kiihnl was selected as a pitcher.
Sophomore catcher Mollie Mitchell was a unanimous choice. She has caught every inning this season. Mitchell was also a unanimous choice last season for the A-Sun All-Freshman Team.
Mitchell has twice been A-Sun Player of the Week this season.
Senior first baseman Kellie Sirus, senior second baseman Abby Keese and sophomore shortstop Courtney Billington joined center fielder Lauren Dortwegt on the first team.
Sirus leads the conference in slugging percentage (,699), runs scored (47) and runs batted in (41). Keese leads the conference overall in home runs (13) and total bases (105).
Dortwegt is second in hitting in A-Sun games only with a .411 average. Billington is first in batting in a-A-Sun games only with a .438 average and second overall with a .365 average.
“Whitney, Mollie and Courtney were all starters last year,” Ryman said. “But they have shown more confidence and developed into even bigger threats this year due to experience.”
Last season Sirus was named All A-Sun First Team with five Lady Bisons named to the second team.
“Abby and Lauren have each won Second Team honors twice before,” Ryman said. “But they have shown more leadership and consistency this year.
“Kellie has had some impressive years as well. Her experience in the big games showed this year.”
When talking about the success of the team this season Ryman also talks about the maturity of her players.
“I think our seniors have done an outstanding job this year of leading our team,” Ryman said. “But our sophomore class has stood out as well. It has given our team tremendous balance.
“Having so many players named First Team All-Conference is simply a testament to their hard work. They push each other to get better every day. I think is it also a reflection of their experience.”
The Lady Bisons, 44-10 overall, flew to DeLand, Fla., Tuesday afternoon for the A-Sun Tournament at Stetson University. Teams will practice Wednesday at Stetson. Ryman and her players will also receive their awards at practice.
Thursday morning the Lady Bisons will face No. 6-seed Campbell in the first round. Campbell has won the conference tournament the past two seasons. This will be the first time the Lady Bisons, who have qualified for the tournament the past four seasons and five of the last six, have faced Campbell in postseason play.
“I don’t think it is often that a team has six players named to the All-Conference First Team,” Ryman said. “But his is truly a special team.
“I am excited for the six of them. But I am even more excited about what this team is still capable of doing.”