And a freshman will lead them.
From the first time Brittany Elmore walked onto the field in the fall for the Lipscomb Lady Bisons coach Kristin Ryman thought she could have a major impact on the team. She has not disappointed leading the Lady Bisons in batting average, hits and runs. She has 36 stolen bases which has shattered the school record for a season and leads the Atlantic Sun.
Elmore was named First Team All-Conference and was also a unanimous selection to the A-Sun All-Freshman Team. She started the season in right field but has played second base the past 40 games.
“She is just so dynamic at the top of the order,” Ryman said. “She fits the No. 1 spot better than anybody we have.
“She had such a good fall that I knew she was going to have an impact. I have been excited to see her surprise some people with her talent because she is a freshman.”
Thursday afternoon Elmore singled down the left field line in the eighth to bring Heather Montgomery home to break a 1-1 tie with North Florida. The Lady Bisons, the No. 4 seed in the tournament, won the game 3-1 over the top-seeded Ospreys.
“I knew when I came up to the plate that even if I didn’t get a hit that my team was behind me,” Elmore said.
“I had a lot of confidence in us winning this game.”
It was the type of situation that Elmore thrives on as a hitter.
“What is neat about Brittany is that even as a freshman she does not get nervous in pressure situations,” Ryman said. “She almost craves them.
“She loves it. She wants to prove what she can do. She continues to do it over and over again.”
Elmore is a dual threat at the plate. She can slap the ball, but also can hit with authority when it is needed.
“She can swing away just as well as she can slap,” Ryman said. “She doesn’t do it as often, but she has come up with clutch hits over and over again swinging away with runners in scoring position.”
Elmore has been a lead-off hitter at all levels of softball. She embraces a role that many hitters are reluctant to fill.
“I love a challenge,” Elmore said. “With slapping I just try to make contact and put the ball on the ground. With hitting, I have been working on getting through the ball. My hard work has paid off.”
Elmore has been impressive at the plate, but she has been almost unstoppable on the base paths. A lot of players have speed on the bases, but Elmore has more than sheer running ability.
“She gets good reads,” Ryman said. “She is blessed with speed but she is also very aggressive on the bases.
If she can get an extra base she is going to take it. She knows she can, but she also knows it makes her one step closer to scoring a run.
“She is looking to catch people sleeping. She is looking to catch people off guard. And she is very confident in her base running.”
Elmore depends on Ryman to give her a steal signal when she is at first base. Once she gets to second she usually makes the call.
“I have always had a really aggressive mindset,” Elmore said. ‘I guess that is what has gotten me this far. It has been very exciting.”