The Lady Bisons softball team has proved the mental side of the game is just as important as the physical side this season.
With a “Battle of the Boulevard” win over Belmont Tuesday night, the Lady Bisons are continuing their strong season in the ASUN conference, holding a 34-13 record and showing that they know how to win.
“The mental side of the game can help everybody,” Head Coach Kristin Ryman said. “Several years ago we started doing some stuff with them to just get them out of how they think. Sometimes they have one bad at bat, and they think, ‘I’m terrible at softball; why am I even playing?’ and make it really extreme. It’s easy to do that, but having these little exercises that they do can really help bring them back to reality.”
Ryman, who is in her 12th season with the Lady Bisons, said she thinks the mental game is the next big thing to be targeted at the college level, even more so than it already is. Therefore, strengthening the mental side is something the team has worked on improving each year.
This semester, the coaches started bringing index cards to games and practices. On them, the players would write down their goals and affirmations before they would step onto the field.
“They all stand out there outside of that left field gate, and before they ever walk in, they just kind of have a moment to let go of whatever they have going on during the school day, whether they feel they did poorly on a test, or they’re having issues with a boyfriend, and realize that they can’t bring that into the field because it’s not going to help anyone,” Ryman said. “When they get there, they all have a little box of index cards that we’ve given them, and they pull one out, and they write down what their three goals are for that day and their affirmations that they have for themselves as well.”
Ranked No. 37 in the NCAA Women’s softball RPI, the Lady Bisons have moved ahead of teams in major conferences such as Notre Dame and Louisville. This is a ranking of every NCAA school, No. 1 – 295.
“We’re really high in that,” Ryman said. “That’s something we feel really good about.”
Senior McCarley Thomas is one of the Lady Bisons’ top two pitchers this year and is 11-6 with a 2.51 ERA. She noted that before each game and practice, she finds it beneficial to write down on her index card something specifically related to softball, and then something outside of softball as well.
“One of my goals is always to stay legal when I pitch, because I struggle with illegal pitches,” Thomas said, adding, “And then it’s also to trust my process.
“Our affirmations are more like things that don’t always have to do with softball. Mine is more of like, ‘You’re a Christian light on the field, so be it, whatever that’s going to look like.'”
Photo courtesy of Lipscomb Athletics