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Lady Bison softball sweeps Belmont

Saturday, October 05, 2013
by Mark McGee

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Another day, another position.

That may very well be the motto for the Lipscomb Lady Bisons softball team this fall.

Saturday afternoon at Rose Park the Lady Bisons swept Belmont 5-3 and 5-2 in a doubleheader. The Lady Bisons remain undefeated this fall in four games, but more important than the victories is the opportunity for coach Kristin Ryman to determine her best starting lineup on the field and at the plate.

Several players are getting the opportunity to play a number of positions. But giving players enough time to get comfortable with their new roles and new surroundings is a challenge.

“The one negative with versatility, if there is one, is it is hard in one practice to get the players the amount of reps they need at all of the positions,” Ryman said.

Rena’ Cothron continues to solidify her position at catcher. She caught 15 innings against Belmont after catching every inning of the opening fall doubleheader with Tennessee State.

“Rena’ is very durable right now,” Ryman said. “On one hand it is great she is getting a ton of experience, but on the other hand catching takes a lot out of you.”

In game one the starters in the infield were Kristen Sturdivant at first, Mimi Cartwright at second, Bridgette Begle at short and Paige Neely at third.

In the outfield Gracey Aguirre was in right, Brittany Elmore played center and Brianne Welch was in left.

Welch also spent half of each game at second base. She has played in the outfield each season at Lipscomb.

“Brianne has been working at second a little bit,” Welch said. “She has a lot of infield experience from high school and travel ball.

“She is very quick. She covers a lot of ground. She has good range. She just hasn’t had enough time to get comfortable over there again.”

Aguirre split her time between right field and first base. She has also worked some this fall at catcher

“Gracey is playing really good defense at first base,” Ryman said. “She caught a couple of fly balls against Belmont. She was quick getting to the ball. She came off the line into the three-four hole and snagged a grounder.

“She really played well. She has been working a decent amount at first, but has practiced the most in the outfield.”

Mimi Cartwright has played second, third and right field. Welch has played all three outfield positions in addition to second base. Paige Neely has played third, short and center field.  Elmore has played center and second.

Katy Richardson has worked at both first base and right field. Madison Wray has spent time at third and in right.

Hitting continues to be a concern for Ryman as she looks for more quality at bats, especially from her veteran players.

“The biggest thing we stressed after game one is we just didn’t make adjustments at the plate quick enough,” Ryman said. “We won the game in eight innings, but if it had been a regulation game we would have lost 3-2.

“I was proud to see that fight right at the end and the way they performed under pressure to retake the lead. But we had multiple opportunities before that. We just didn’t have the quality at bats we were looking for in the first game.”

Ryman expects the freshmen to struggle at the plate as they adjustments to NCAA Division I, but not the veterans.

“The speed of the game is different for the freshmen,” Ryman said. “The older girls were struggling to make adjustments in the first game as well.

“Top to bottom through our lineup we didn’t have a great first game. We had some choppy singles and took advantage of a couple of miscues.”

Ryman is analyzing at bats in the four games this fall to see what each player is doing at the plate.

“A big part of this whole puzzle is figuring out who those top hitters will be and with those hitters what will the defense look like,” Ryman said. “We want to make sure we have the right combinations.

“We don’t know who our top nine, 10 or 11 hitters are right now. Until we figure what that is going to look like we think it is important they get some innings at a few different positions.”

The Lady Bisons continue the fall schedule Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. when Trevecca Nazarene visits Draper Diamond.

“We are stressing to them the need to play with a sense of urgency and energy,” Ryman said. “When moving players all over the field they need to be able to communicate with the players around them.

“There have been a few miscues here and there. We are emphasizing mechanics and where players are supposed to be, but we also want to make sure they aren’t getting caught on their heels.”