Apr 4, 2006

Softball sweeps NCAT, prepares for week

by Megan Joiner
Saturday proved to be a perfect day for softball as temperatures neared 80 degrees and a stiff breeze blew towards right field during the Lady Flames double-header against North Carolina A&T.

The Lady Aggies’ senior Latronda Anderson and the Lady Flames’ junior Terra Lowe battled it out from the mound for seven innings, keeping the ball on the ground for most of the day.

After giving up two runs in the second, Lowe settled into her groove and sat the Aggies down 1-2-3 in the third, fifth, sixth and seventh. The exception was the fourth, when Lowe walked NCAT’s Renecia Lovelace before first baseman Jekesha Herring grounded out to end the inning.

“I wasn’t pitching as well (in the first two innings). I didn’t have as many first pitch strikes, but I tried to get back in my groove and my pitches started working. I just worked hard in warm-ups to get my pitches to work,” Lowe, who pitched the entire game even though she was suffering from a sinus infection, said.

Junior Jessica Moore hit her 11th homerun of the season, a two-out a solo shot, in the third to get the offense started for the Lady Flames. Second baseman Dawn Jeffs followed with a single, stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error before Beth Bennett popped out to end the inning tied at one.

The fourth inning saw the Lady Flames go down 1-2-3, but the team exploded for three more runs in the fifth. Lowe helped herself by opening the inning with a walk. Freshman third baseman Courtney Johnson reached on an error, and freshman outfielder Jessica Leary laid a beautiful sacrifice bunt to move the pair up. Moore followed with a walk before Jeffs got a single to score Rachel Love, who pinch ran for Lowe. After Bennett popped out to the shortstop, catcher Ashley Williams scored Johnson and Moore with a double. The inning ended with the Flames up, 5-2.

Lowe shut the Lady Aggies down in the sixth and seventh as the Flames took the first game, 5-2.

Liberty did not lose its momentum during the break between games, and the Lady Flames pounded Lady Aggies’ pitcher Adia Dial for 15 runs in four and half innings. Moore hit her 12th and 13th home runs on the season, tallying five RBI’s in the second game.

“It’s about bat speed. You’ve got to hit hard and wait back for the pitch. That’s really the key right there. I’ve always hit the ball hard, but I never got home runs until I came to college,” Moore said.

Junior leftfielder Beth Hensley followed with four RBI’s, sophomore Shannon McCain knocked in two runs, and Johnson, Bennett and Williams got one apiece.

NCAT’s Dial was all over the place. She was extremely wild in the first, and although she settled down in the second, she still had trouble placing her pitches. She threw two wild pitches, and struck Moore in the side in the fourth inning. Thirteen of Liberty’s 15 runs were earned. Facing 22 batters, Dial gave up 10 hits and six walks.

For Liberty, freshman Sarah Ellis held her own on the mound, sitting down the top of the order in the first and taking out the middle of the lineup in the second.

In the top of the third, Ellis forced third baseman Deanna Keys and rightfielder Jessica Cooper to groundout before giving a single to centerfielder Chaola Simmons, walking Lovelace, and allowing Dial to single. However, she forced catcher Tabitha Veney to ground out to second base, ending the inning without injury.

“The word for today was ‘big.’ We really wanted to hit the ball well and control the tempo … We hit the ball well over and above that. We had good hitting and very solid pitching. Terra pitched very well in the first game, and to take 15 runs in four innings – we’ll take that any day,” Head Coach Paul Wetmore said.

Wetmore attributes the team’s 23-10, 2-0 record to the leadership of the juniors. 

“We’ve been waiting for leadership on this team. Now we’ve got it. Sarah Swor, Jessica Moore and Dawn Jeffs have commanded that role of leadership, and it’s really helped us,” Wetmore said.

Wetmore also said that Saturday’s double header set the tone for a very difficult week at home. Liberty will face Bethune, who went to the Sweet 16 last year, on Monday.

“They’re a very good team. We met them in Florida this year. We beat them 3-1 about two weeks ago but they’re going to be a challenge,” said Wetmore.

The team will then face UVa on Tuesday and Longwood on Thursday.

 Contact Megan Joiner at mkjoiner@liberty.edu.

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