Apr 3, 2007

Lady Flames win sixth straight, improve to 21-14 with conference games approaching

by Eric Brown, Sports Reporter
After struggling against some of the toughest competition in the nation last week, the Liberty women’s softball team geared up for another buffet of games.

The Lady Flames dined on the Norfolk State Spartans in mid-week action and feasted on their opponents in the Blue Ridge Thunder Softball Tournament over the weekend.

The tournament featured the Georgetown Hoyas as well as the Lady Pirates of Hampton University.

On Wednesday Liberty squared off in a double header against the Spartans of Norfolk State University.

After two scoreless innings from both teams, senior Dawn Jeffs hit a solo home run to center field giving the Lady Flames a 1-0 advantage in the third.

Later, in the fifth, Jeffs singled and scored an insurance run for Liberty after a line drive double to left field from junior Ashley Williams.

The pair of runs from Jeffs proved to be enough as the Lady Flames took the first game 2-0.

Senior pitcher Terra Lowe joined an exclusive club as she pitched just the 10th no hitter in school history. Lowe only gave up two walks, striking out 11 Spartan batters in seven innings.

“I didn’t feel like I pitched my best today, but it feels good to get that no hitter,” said Lowe humbly.

In the bottom of the first inning of game two, Jeffs literally put a run on the board for the Lady Flames as she bounced a home run off the scoreboard.

After hitting a double and advancing to third on an error, Jeffs scored her second run in the third inning on a sacrifice fly to right by senior Jessica Moore.

Norfolk State answered with a run of its own in the top of the sixth when Meghan Ramsey singled up the middle to bring left fielder Cassandra Petway home.

Leading just 2-1, Liberty picked up two insurance runs thanks to excellent hitting from senior Beth Hensley and Jeffs.

After a 25 minute delay of game due to lightning, the Lady Flames made quick work of the Spartans to secure a 4-1 victory.

In both games combined Jeffs went five for seven with three RBIs and four runs.

“I’ve never hit two home runs in a series like this back to back,” said Jeffs. “It was fun.”

On Friday, Liberty began the Blue Ridge Thunder Softball Tournament against the Lady Hoyas of Georgetown in what turned into a slugfest for the Lady Flames.

Liberty scored 10 runs off 15 hits and three Georgetown errors in the contest.

Moore and Jeffs belted two homers apiece and combined for a third of Liberty’s hits.

Designated player junior Claire Fridey stepped up big time for the Lady Flames.

Fridey, who came into the game one for seven on the season, went three for four with one run scored and one RBI.

“I haven’t really had a chance to play much for the team,” said Fridey.

“I just went in there and stayed relax because I knew I had nothing to lose.”

The Hoyas squeezed by a run in the bottom half of the fourth inning.

However, it proved to be no match for Liberty’s heavy hitting, as the Lady Flames emerged from the first game of the tournament with a 10-1 win.

Liberty took the field against Hampton in game two of the tournament.

The Lady Flames hit hard early, as they pounded the Lady Pirates by plating four runs off five hits in the bottom of the second.

After Liberty held Hamp-ton scoreless through five, Lady Pirates outfielder Angel Balser hit a three-run shot to center field in the sixth, trimming the Liberty lead to one.

Starting pitcher, sophomore Sarah Ellis, remained calm after the Hampton home run to lead the Lady Flames to a 4-3 win.

Claire Fridey shined once again as she knocked in her first home run of the season in the second inning of the contest.

“I love seeing her (Fridey), especially coming out and hitting that home run,” said Moore.

On day two of the tournament, Liberty battled the Lady Hoyas of Georgetown once again in a game that resembled the first showdown between the two teams.

The Lady Flames scored five runs off four hits in the bottom of the first including a grand slam from Fridey.
 
The Hoyas answered with a two-run homer of their own to cut the lead to three. The game remained stagnant until the fifth when sophomore Jessica Leary smacked a double to right field. Her hit allowed sophomore Beth Bennett to reach home plate.

Fridey then slid into home off a sacrifice bunt to extend the lead.

Several minutes later junior Shannon McKain sent a three-run homer soaring over the center field fence to give Liberty the win 10-2 in five innings, due to a “slaughter rule.”

“It was a slow pitch,” said McKain.

“I thought I was just going to pop it up to be honest.”

After rain cancelled the next two contests, the Lady Flames met Hampton in the championship game.
Hampton, which knocked off Georgetown the day before, came into the championship ready for battle.

However, the Lady Flames displayed no signs of being ill-prepared themselves. As an excellent display of this preparation, McKain homered to right center, giving the Flames an early 1-0 lead.

In the third, Liberty extended its lead when freshmen J’nae Jefferson reached home following an error by the Hampton catcher.

The Lady Pirates rallied back in the fifth to take a 3-2 lead due to solid hitting and a wild pitch by Lowe.

Controversy erupted in the bottom of the inning when the Lady Flames loaded the bases. With only one out on the scoreboard, Jeffs tagged up from third after a line drive grazed the third basemen’s glove.

A double play forced Williams and Moore out at first and second, respectively, but not before Jeffs reached home.

After several minutes of debating the matter, the officials determined that Jeffs reached home before the third out, which knotted the game at three going into the sixth.

The game remained tied until the bottom of the seventh when the Lady Flames loaded the bases once again.

Moore reached home off a Fridey single to left, allowing Liberty to win in the championship game 4-3.

Ellis, who pitched the final two innings, picked up the win. The victory extended her record to 8-5.

“I tried to get strikeouts, but I will settle for groundouts,” said Ellis. “The team played well defensively behind me, so that was good.”

The six-game home winning streak pushes Liberty to a 21-14 record, with conference play just around the corner.

“I’m very pleased with where we’re at right now,” said Coach Paul Wetmore. “Everybody knows now that we’re playing well.”

The Lady Flames travel up Interstate 81 to face the Dukes of James Madison University in Harrison-burg, Va., on Wednesday, April 4.

Game one of the doubleheader will begin at 3 p.m.
 
Contact Eric Brown at eqbrown@liberty.edu.

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