After falling to USC Upstate in their second game of the A-Sun Softball Championship, the Lipscomb Lady Bisons powered their way through the loser’s bracket, defeating their next three opponents by a combined score of 25-1. An 11-0 five inning rout of USC Upstate in the championship game punctuated the Lady Bisons’ resurgence, avenged the earlier loss and handed Lipscomb the first conference championship in program history.
Lipscomb entered the tournament as the top-seed after a dominant run through the A-Sun regular season, winning 18 of 20 games against league competition, but had historically found little success in postseason play, owning a 1-8 mark in school history. Following the loss to USC Upstate, the Lady Bisons entered day two of the three day event on the brink of elimination.
“We told the girls that they had to have a short memory,” said head softball coach Kristin Ryman. “Our seniors knew not to press; that they just needed to keep doing what they had been doing all season long.”
The victory completed a tremendous turnaround for a program that won just 14 games in Ryman’s first season in 2006. Ryman guided the Lady Bisons to their first 40-win season in the NCAA era, and the 48 wins are the most in the A-Sun since Florida Atlantic won 56 games in 2004.
“My goal for the season was to get to 40 wins,” Ryman said. “After winning 39 games last year, I wanted to continue improving on the win total, and I though we’d have a great chance since we returned almost everybody from last year’s squad.”
The Lady Bisons posted early season victories over Kansas, Kentucky and perennial Pac 10 power California, and Ryman watched the team’s confidence skyrocket with each victory.
“Our seniors maturity level really improved, and they took a giant step forward from a leadership standpoint, and that translated into a lot more confidence,” Ryman said. “We beat Kansas and Kentucky on the same day, and everyone really started believing we could play with and beat the nation’s best. We made believers out of a lot of people with those wins.”
Lipscomb now turns its attention to NCAA Tournament play for the first time in school history, and, far from just being happy be there, hope to continue this magical season with a regional championship.
“The girls are already talking about where we might go and who we might play,” Ryman said. “This group is special enough that they want to prove that we can compete at that level; that our big wins earlier this season weren’t flukes. We’re definitely on the right track, and I know we can put ourselves in a position to win these games.”