May 1, 2007

Softball tied for first in BSC as Lowe no-hits Coastal Carolina

by Jake Petersen, Sports Reporter

The Liberty University Lady Flames softball team traveled just down the road to Longwood University last Tuesday to kick off a week in which they would play eight games in a seven-day span.
In both games of the doubleheader, the Lady Flames just could not get much of anything going.
Senior Dawn Jeffs managed to get on base to leadoff the first game and came around to score on senior Jessica Moore’s RBI single.

That was all the Lady Flames could get in the frame.

Longwood went on to score three runs in the bottom of the fourth, which proved to be the deciding factor.

The Lady Flames attempted comeback fell short when senior Beth Hensley was cut down at the plate on a wild pitch, giving Longwood a 4-3 win.

In the second game, Jeffs tripled home freshman J’nae Jefferson in the top of the fifth inning to give the Flames a 1-0 lead.

Jeffs was brought home on junior Shannon McKain’s double, increasing the lead to 2-0.
Longwood countered to tie the score in the bottom half of the inning as Courtney Wilson drove a Sarah Ellis delivery into left field, plating Kristina Garrison and Ava Schmitz to tie the score at two apiece.

After the Lady Flames scored two runs to take the lead in the final inning, Longwood fought back to score three runs and earn the win.

Longwood freshman Kaitlyn McKeown ripped a bases-clearing triple into the left field corner following back-to-back walks from Liberty senior Terra Lowe, which propelled the Lancers to a 5-4 victory.
“Longwood was a letdown,” said Head Coach Paul Wetmore.

“They are a good team, but we just couldn’t get anything going. They were a lot better than what their record is.”

After the Longwood letdown, the Lady Flames traveled back to the friendly confines of the Liberty Softball Field to play host to the Chanticleers of Coastal Carolina.

In game one of Friday’s doubleheader, Lowe wrote her name down in the record books, tossing her second no-hitter of the season in the Lady Flames 4-0 victory.

Lowe was lights out, baffling the Chanticleers all day by using a variety of pitches to record 13 strikeouts and allow only three base runners.

“It was a huge relief off my shoulders,” said Lowe. “I was really nervous the last inning and although my pitches weren’t working the way I wanted them to, it was still a solid performance.”
Lowe was backed with three runs of support in the first inning as Jeffs raced home on McKain’s RBI triple just inside the right field line for the game’s first run.

Moore followed, lacing a double off the very top of the right center field wall to bring home McKain.
A few pitches later, Moore was then able to reach home on senior Sarah Swor’s perfect suicide squeeze bunt to give the Lady Flames an early 3-0 lead.

Moore would also score in the next inning on a wild pitch. She went two for three on the day with two doubles, while junior Ashley Williams also had two hits in Liberty’s 33rd victory of the year.
In the second game of the doubleheader, Coastal Carolina managed to get on board in the top of the fourth inning on Kristina Sheppard’s two-run shot to right center field. 

The score remained the same until the bottom of the sixth inning.

It was then that Williams stepped up with a runner on and lined a 2-1 delivery from Ashley Frederick just over the center field fence.

Williams pumped her fist in celebration as she rounded first base.

“I knew it was going to go out,” said Williams.

“After I hit it, I kind of said to myself, ‘In your face,’ because they were talking a lot of trash the whole game. It was real big for me personally because Coastal is a huge rival of ours.”
Despite Williams’ heroics, the Lady Flames were unable to score in the final inning after leaving two runners on base. Coastal scored in the eighth inning to grab a 3-2 win and move their conference record to 7-7 on the year.

The loss was just the second of the year for the Lady Flames on their home field.

In the final game of the three-game series on Saturday, Moore started things off by blasting her league-leading 17th home run of the year into the bullpen in right center field.

Following a one-out Jefferson single in the bottom of the third, Jeffs sent the first pitch of her at-bat well over the fence for a two-run homerun.

With her Chanticleers down 3-0 and needing to put some runs on the board, Alicia Cantrell delivered a soaring solo shot over the center field fence to bring the deficit to 3-1.

Cantrell homered again in the sixth as the Chanticleers tied the score up at 3-3 heading into the final inning of play.

The Lady Flames used a little small ball to finish off Coastal Carolina.

Wetmore pinch-hit for sophomore Jessica Leary by opting instead for junior Claire Fridey.
Fridey seized the opportunity, leading off the frame by legging out an infield single. Wetmore then re-inserted Leary as a pinch runner and called on Jefferson to lay down a bunt.

The perfect bunt by Jefferson, which she also turned into a single, gave the Lady Flames two runners on with no outs and Jeffs stepping up to the plate.

She also laid down a perfect bunt, setting the stage for Beth Hensley’s heroics.
With the bases loaded and down a strike, Hensley flared a 0-1 delivery from Frederick just over the head of the first baseman, giving the Lady Flames a 4-3 win.
“I thought it was going to get caught,” said Hensley.

“With the way I was struggling today, I was just trying to put the ball in play and luckily it fell in there. I’ve never had a walkoff hit before, so it feels good.”

Wetmore was overjoyed with his team’s play this weekend, and this game in particular. 
“We put Claire in there as a pinch hitter and she was able to put the ball in play,” he said. “She laid down just a perfect bunt in between the fielders, and we had Dawn bunt because they kept switching their infield around.

“It was a perfectly executed bunt and Beth came through with a hit. We love beating Coastal Carolina.”

As the season dwindles to a close, Wetmore feels his team is right where it needs to be.
Liberty enters today’s doubleheader tied for first place in the Big South.
 
The home set against the 12th-ranked Virginia Tech Hokies starts at 3 p.m. It is also the Lady Flames’ Senior Day.

“This game will be special for two reasons: one, we are saying goodbye to five seniors who have elevated our program to the next level, and two because we are playing Virginia Tech who is coming off just a huge tragedy,” said Wetmore.

“They’re a great team and we’ll be going up against one of the best pitchers in the nation (Angela Tincher). It will be a great tune up for the Big South Championship.”

Following the Lady Flames’ bout with the Hokies, they travel to Alabama to take on the Birmingham Southern Panthers. This is the first meeting of the season between the Panthers and the Lady Flames.

Contact Jake Petersen at jtpetersen@liberty.edu.



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