Mar 9, 2010

Lady Flames exhibit strong showing at Buzz Classic

by Ryan Carr

With the season in full swing, the Liberty softball team traveled to Woodstock, Ga. last weekend to take part in the Georgia Tech Buzz Classic. The Lady Flames started off with four wins in the tournament before dropping their final game to the No. 23 Kentucky Wildcats, 7-0 on Sunday.

Liberty began play on Friday with wins against Dartmouth and Kennesaw State, 11-0 and 8-5 respectively.

The Lady Flames started off fast against Dartmouth with four runs in the first inning. Sophomore Kaylee West doubled to bring in two runs for the Lady Flames and later scored on a single from sophomore Kelly Strickland.

Junior Ashley Bensinger advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by senior J’nae Jefferson and later scored on a double from junior Amber DePasquale. Liberty continued the scoring by scoring seven more runs in the second inning, led by Strickland’s three-run home run. Liberty finished off the Big Green with solid pitching from freshman Katie Warrington who only allowed three hits in five innings of work.

The Lady Flames continued their heavy hitting in the second game of the day against Kennesaw State. Liberty took the early lead over the Owls in the second inning off of home runs from sophomore Danielle Howard and Strickland. Howard hit a solo home run to start the inning and Strickland hit a two-run home run to put the Lady Flames ahead 3-0.

Howard and Strickland both added solo home runs in the top of the fifth to extend the lead to 5-0. The Owls responded in the bottom of the fifth with their first two runs of the game to bring the score closer at 5-2. Liberty went on to score three runs in the sixth off of another RBI from Howard and a two RBI double from sophomore Jenny Law. The Lady Flames went on to win the game 8-5, despite a three run inning for the Owls in the seventh.

Liberty resumed play on Saturday with a 3-1 victory over the Akron Zips. The Lady Flames again began the scoring early with all three runs coming in the second inning. Strickland was hit by a pitch and then advanced on a bunt by Bensinger. Both runners advanced after a passed ball got past Akron catcher Sarah Stromack. Strickland scored on a single from sophomore Bridgett Woods.

Liberty’s second run came from a second passed ball that scored Bensinger. Howard then drove in woods with a sacrifice fly to finish off the scoring for the Lady Flames. Akron scored its only run of the game in the fourth inning when Allison Dorr was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.

With two Akron runners in scoring position in the bottom of the seventh, junior pitcher Tiffani Smith recorded two strikeouts and forced Alissa Birkhimer to fly out to end the game.

Liberty’s fourth win of the weekend came against Rhode Island later on Saturday with a final score of 8-0. After scoring one run in the first, the Lady Flames exploded for five more runs in the third inning.

West and Strickland began the inning with doubles, and West then scored on a single by Bensinger. DePasquale singled to score Strickland and move Bensinger over to third.

Bensinger then scored on a bunt from junior Keely McMillon. DePasquale crossed the plate on a throwing error and the Lady Flames added one more run to take the 6-0 advantage over the Rams.

“I really like the way we’re starting to swing the bat. We’ve got to get it all the way up and down the lineup but I think the capability is there,” said Head Coach Paul Wetmore.

The Lady Flames finished off their tournament schedule by facing their toughest competition in Kentucky on Sunday. The Wildcats wasted no time in getting on the board as they took a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Kentucky added to the lead in the second with a leadoff homer from Samantha DeMartine.

With the bases loaded Natalie Smith hit a triple that scored three runs to take the lead 5-0. Chanda Bell who had 10 strikeouts for the Wildcats held the Lady Flames to just three hits all day.

“The team did a really good job. We never gave up. It was so amazing to be able to face that kind of pitching. We actually did an okay job even though it was better pitching then what we’ve seen but all in all I thought we did a good job as a team,” Strickland said.

The Lady Flames now head to Tuscaloosa, Ala. to face the No. 9 Alabama Crimson Tide on Monday in a doubleheader.

Contact Ryan Carr at
rmcarr2@liberty.edu.
 


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