Mar 30, 2010

Lady Flames split doubleheader with UVA, dominate Radford

by Ryan Carr

The Liberty softball team traveled to Charlottesville Wednesday to face off against in-state rival Virginia in a doubleheader.

The Lady Flames dropped the first contest to the Cavaliers by a score of 4-0. Virginia pitcher Melanie Mitchell notched 11 strikeouts while holding the Lady Flames to only three hits all game. Junior infielder Cassie Hendrix picked up two of the Lady Flames hits with a double in the second inning and a single in the seventh.

Virginia got on the board in the second inning when Alexa Martinez walked with the bases loaded, scoring Alex Skinkis from third. The Cavaliers added another run in the fourth inning to take a 2-0 lead. The scoring was capped off in the sixth inning with two more runs, leaving the score at 4-0 in favor of Virginia.

The Lady Flames came out determined in the second game and wasted little time getting on the board. In the second inning with two outs and two runners on base, Hendrix reached on a fielding error by the shortstop that allowed sophomore Kaylee West to score. Senior J’nae Jefferson then doubled to score the second run of the inning and sophomore Jenny Law singled to put the score at 3-0.

Liberty added two more runs to its lead in the third inning with a single from junior Keely McMillion. McMillion drove in sophomore Kelly Strickland from third and junior Amber DePasquale to extend the lead to 5-0. The Cavaliers began a comeback in the bottom of the fifth with two runs on two hits. Virginia continued to threaten the Lady Flames in the following inning by picking up another two runs to pull within a run, 5-4.

With the Lady Flames holding a slim lead in the top of the seventh inning, Strickland sent one over the fence to give Liberty more breathing room and a two run lead. The Lady Flames held on and secured a 6-4 victory over the Cavaliers, moving to 15-9 on the year.

“We came out and we really just started swinging the bats much better and got a lead and we were able to hold it. Tiffani Smith pitched a very good game and I really liked the way we attacked the ball in the second game. We played much better,” Head Coach Paul Wetmore said. Smith earned her eighth victory of the season with six strikeouts in six innings. The Lady Flames finished the contest with nine hits after being held to three in the first game.

Liberty started off the week with a win on Tuesday over defending Big South Conference champion Radford. After dropping two games to the Highlanders at Radford just five days earlier, the Lady Flames were eager to come up with a win in their first home game of the season.

With the Lady Flames trailing 1-0 in the third inning, Strickland smacked a two-run home run to take a 2-1 lead. DePasquale added a solo home run for the Lady Flames to finish off the three-run inning.

Liberty’s offense exploded in the fifth inning to put six runs on the board and take an overwhelming 9-1 lead over the Highlanders. Sophomore Danielle Howard started the scoring with a triple that scored junior Ashley Bensinger. Howard then came around to score on a single from West to add to the lead 5-1. Hendrix drove in the sixth run of the day with a single.

“We were extremely well prepared and we were ready for Radford when they got here. We had a good game plan and we executed the game plan and that doesn’t happen all the time,” Wetmore said. Law finished off the struggling Highlanders with a three-run double to end the game after five innings. Liberty overpowered Radford with 13 hits, while the Highlanders only managed three hits off of Smith.

The Lady Flames return home to Liberty Softball Field on April 2-3 for a three-game series with conference rival Winthrop.

Contact Ryan Carr

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