Herd Media

Lipscomb softball – making their way through the season… brick by brick

Before the start of the 2023 softball season, Herd Media sat down with then senior outfielder Elise Shewmaker, along with some other players, for a look at the team and the upcoming season. Now partway into the 2024 softball season, Herd Media sat down with now graduate student infielder Elise Shewmaker once again to talk a bit about the team and the season. Joining Shewmaker was transfer graduate student catcher and infielder Lauren Higginbotham.

While the Lipscomb baseball team has a roster stacked toward the older side, the softball team has a far younger roster. In fact, only eight of the 21 girls are above sophomore level, and six of the girls are freshmen.

“Bringing in an amazing group of young players has pushed us to be better,” said Shewmaker. “They’re making such a great impact. I think it’s kind of a two-way – everyone is teaching everyone and that’s just a really cool place to be in. They’re elevating our program and they’re the future and it’s really cool to see it because they’re awesome.”

“Everyone’s comfortable asking for help,” Higginbotham added. “Whether it’s older people or younger people… that’s something that I find incredibly fulfilling about this team.”

The softball team is facing more changes than just the young players on the roster however. They’ve seen two new coaches added to staff, and a strong shift in the program toward its elevation.

“Our program is building a lot,” Higginbotham said. “So just to see how we’ve been able to kind of push the team to new heights and new limits… it’s very cool to be a part of.” 

Players pose before a game. From left to right, Lauren Higginbotham, Josey Polk, Elise Shewmaker, Joie Giarrizzo. Photo taken by Micah Barkley.

Despite the change in the team, they still remain close as a group. Both Shewmaker – who’s seen the team grow and develop over the past five years – and Higginbotham – new to the team herself – agreed that the team’s dynamic and culture was strong.

“Honestly, this team is incredible,” Shewmaker said with a smile. “I am very grateful to have been able to come back for a fifth year and be able to experience it with this team. The culture and the love that everyone has for each other is something that I’ve never been a part of.” Continuing, she expanded on the team dynamic off the field – something just as important as on the field. “We are together 24/7. We have so much fun together as a group. We were literally talking about that the other day. Like how much fun we have together and we’re always laughing and we’re always just messing around with each other.”

Shewmaker laughed as she began to list off some of the things they do together. “We have a ton of girls that love to play cards, so we just pick a spot, pick a time and go play cards for hours on end. We’ve had several team bonding activities that we’ve done this year, staying at different people’s houses and just really pouring into each other. We also [hang] out at Bible study, at [each other’s] houses, and even the girls that are on campus, they have their caf breakfast, caf dinner. They call it family dinner.”

Not only do the girls have fun off the field, but on the field and on the road as well. “We spend a lot of time playing a lot of games together,” Higginbotham said. “Before games, we’ll play hacky sack or spike ball or something. On the bus the other day, someone was like, ‘I love my life. Getting to hang out with the team.’ I don’t think anyone gets tired of it. We love being around each other.”

The girls play hacky sack together before a game. Photo taken by Micah Barkley.

Though one is a returner and the other a transfer, both Shewmaker and Higginbotham agreed that there was no team they’d rather play for. “I cannot be more grateful to be here for five years,” Shewmaker said. “It’s just such a blessing to be here and to have Coach Ryman’s support throughout all this time. I’m just really grateful to be a part of this team for this last ride.”

“As soon as I met the girls and our assistant coaches, I just knew I was in the right spot,” Higginbotham remarked. “There’s not a day that goes by where I’m not like, ‘this is the place that I’m supposed to be.'”

Both girls are proud of the team, how they started and how they’ve been growing together. “We have learned so much individually and collectively. And we just keep building on top of that. I’m excited to see everything that we’ve learned and everything that we have been faced with, how we’re going to take that and run with it,” Higginbotham said.

While both have personal goals for the season, they seemed to line up with one another’s. With both Shewmaker and Higginbotham in their last year with the team, their goals were these: leave the team with no regrets, and help push the team as far as they could. Neither said their goal was to better themselves, both said their goals were to better the team.

Finally, Shewmaker explained a team tradition that helped keep the girls together, year after year. “Every year we go around a campfire and we make s’mores and we have soup, and then we paint bricks and everyone gets to choose a word or a phrase or a Bible verse that they want their year to be about. What they want to focus on when things get hard, they look at that word or that phrase and it kind of helps them check back in. So one thing that we’ll say is just brick by brick, which is just really cool to know where that came from. As a team we kind of say that just to know that it’s just step by step, brick by brick. You can’t build a wall without one single brick at a time.” 

The Lipscomb Softball team is currently 15-31 for the season, with six games left to go, followed by the ASUN championship. But the team is not stopping, building and fighting “brick by brick.”