Friday, May 21, 2010

Pupil Matches Teacher in Lipscomb's Opening Win

Every player on the Lipscomb softball roster is older than the program itself. Softball began at Lipscomb in 1996, at the NAIA level, under the direction of Andy Lane. By the program's second year, the Lady Bisons won 49 games, establishing the program's mark for wins in a single season - a record joined on Friday by the 2010 edition, who reached that milestone with a 4-1 victory against UAB to open NCAA Regional play from Tuscaloosa, Ala.

In the fifth year of the program, a young shortstop/center fielder by the name of Kristin Peck joined the Bisons. From 2000 through 2003 she was part of a program that won 122 games during her career.

Individually, she finished her career with a .300 batting average, 150 runs, 187 hits, 69 runs batted in and 41 stolen bases. She twice earned All-Conference and All-Region honors and served as team captain in 2003.

Upon finishing her career, Peck (now Ryman) moved into coaching, first as an assistant to Lane and later under interim coach Cheryl Smith. In 2006, she took over the head position. She has improved her win total every season, on three occasions the team has improved their win total from the season before by at least 10. With Friday's win, the Lady Bisons moved to within one of the nice, round 50-win total - a mark reached by only one A-Sun team in league history. Florida Atlantic topped 50 wins three times. The win also marked the first time since 2006 that an A-Sun team won its opening NCAA game.

"There's no comparison [between the two years]," Lane said. "Forty-nine wins at this level is just incredible."

Lane, now the Executive Director, National Bison Club, attended Friday's contest and watched first-hand his wins record tied and will be around to see the Lady Bisons go for 50.

"I think [Ryman] has gone out and surrounded herself with players who play like she did," Lane said. "She was always focused and was the ultimate competitor. She wasn't a vocal player, but she led by her work ethic and her intensity."

Ryman entered Lipscomb looking at medicine as a future endeavor, but quickly realized she had a passion for teaching and coaching that could not be ignored.

"I really enjoy being a leader," Ryman said. "I like to get involved emotionally and I always thought strategically when I was a player. I've tried to go out and find players that will get after it."

With Friday's win, the Lady Bisons assured themselves of two cracks at reaching that 50-win mark. Their first chance will come against the No. 1 team in the tournament, the hosting Alabama Crimson Tide.

"It will be a tremendous opportunity," Ryman said. "Having one game under our belt helps us. We don't have to any any individual heroes, no one has to do too much."

When the Lipscomb baseball team advanced to NCAA Regional play in 2008, the Bisons made news by upsetting a hosting SEC power, No. 8 Georgia (who went on to the College World Series and finished runner up) in the opening game. An upset by the Lady Bisons Saturday afternoon would do more than re-write the record book; newspapers and Web sites might be re-writing their headlines.

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