Apr 24, 2007

Lady Flames creep ever closer to conference lead with 5-2 lead

by Eric Brown, Sports Reporter
The Liberty women’s softball team overcame all odds this weekend by defeating Big South Conference leader Radford not once, but twice.

Before achieving the feat, the Lady Flames battled Lynchburg College and University of North Carolina-Greensboro in non-conference action.

On Tuesday, Liberty played at home against a feisty Division III team in the Hornets of Lynchburg College.

The Lady Flames scored five runs off four hits in the second, including a two-run home run from junior Ashley Williams.

“I honestly didn’t think it was going to go over,” said Williams, whose homer was her only hit of the contest.

Lynchburg College responded with two runs of their own in the third to make it a 5-2 ball game.
Two innings later, senior Jessica Moore and freshmen Dana Wheeler came across the plate to push the Hornets’ deficit back to five.

Each team scored a run in the sixth, making the final score in game one 8-3 in favor of the home team.

In game two, Liberty received quality pitching from senior Terra Lowe.

The Hornets stung quickly in the first inning as Elizabeth Perkins knocked a solo homer down the left field line.

Undaunted, Lowe went on to pitch a complete game, striking out nine batters and allowing only one more hit.

“I can’t believe I gave up a home run to them,” said Lowe. “I didn’t want to let that happen again.”
The Lady Flames batted in five runs in two innings and four more in the fourth to win 9-1 by mercy rule in five innings.

The following day, the Lady Flames ventured to the UNC-Greensboro to take on the Spartans.
UNC-Greensboro gained the advantage early, scoring a run in the second.

Sophomore Beth Bennett finally broke the ice for the Lady Flames in the fourth as she doubled to left center, allowing Moore to advance home.

In the sixth, Bennett brought her teammate home again, this time on a sacrifice fly that gave Liberty a 2-1 lead.


UNC-Greensboro answered in the bottom of the inning with a solo homer to center field, which eventually extended the game to extra frames.

In the extra inning, senior Dawn Jeffs and Moore quickly got on base for the Lady Flames. Williams then smacked a double sending the seniors home. With the Spartans’ inability to answer in the bottom of the inning, Liberty pulled out a 4-2 victory.

In game two, the Lady Flames attempted to prevent the Spartans from seeking revenge by putting two runs on the board in the first inning.

After eight unanswered Spartan runs, Liberty broke through in the fifth when freshman J’nae Jefferson smashed a lead off home run to left field.

UNC-Greensboro picked up two more runs in the bottom half to add to Liberty’s dilemma. They tried to bounce back in the seventh, but the rally came too late as the team fell, 10-7.
On Friday, Liberty began a three game series with the number one team in the conference, the Radford Highlanders.

In what turned into a grind-it-out game, the Big South’s top two teams remained scoreless through four until sophomore Courtney Johnson knocked a lead off homer to center field.
On the wings of Johnson’s home run, the Lady Flames took the first game 1-0.
“I just kept my hands in and swung hard and let God do the rest,” said Johnson.

In the second game, the Highlanders struck first, taking a 2-0 lead going into the bottom of the second. Senior Beth Hensley singled in the bottom half of the inning, allowing Williams to score.
Radford extended its lead in the third when Ashley Taylor hit a three run shot to left field. In the fifth, Moore and Williams each hit solo homers to trim the deficit to two.

The Highlanders countered with a two-run blast in the sixth to regain a four run advantage. In the bottom half, Johnson hit another solo home run to keep Liberty in the contest. 

Jeffs quickly got on base in the seventh due to a fielding error, which led to a two-run homer from junior Shannon McKain. After managing to cut the lead to one, the Lady Flames grounded out three straight times and lost 7-6.

“They’re good pitchers, but we could have a done a lot better hitting,” said McKain. “I think their defense is what helped them out.”

In game three on Saturday, Jeffs set the tone in the first inning as she nailed a lead off round-tripper to right-center. Moore and Bennett scored later in the inning to put Liberty up early, 3-0. The onslaught from the Lady Flames forced Radford’s starting pitcher off the mound after just one inning of action.

In the top of the third, the Highlanders’ Alex Roderick hit a leadoff home run to left field to make it a 3-1 ball game.

In the bottom of the inning, Liberty responded with a two- run homer from Williams. Two innings later, Moore extended her season-leading home run total to 16 with a solo shot to left center. The Lady Flames tacked on three more runs to earn a 9-1 victory in “mercy rule” fashion and took the series 2-1 against the toughest team in the conference.

“Everyone…came to hit,” said Jeffs. “Our team just has a lot of confidence that we can hit anyone that is throwing at us.”

With postseason play approaching, Liberty remains second in the Big South with a 7-2 record in conference play and a 30-18 record overall.

“We’re fired up,” said Head Coach Paul Wetmore. “With the power we’ve got, we’re going to hang seven or eight runs on the board.”

Liberty travels to Farmville on Tuesday, April 24 to take on Longwood in a double-header. Game time is set for 3 p.m.
 
Contact Eric Brown at eqbrown@liberty.edu.

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