Apr 7, 2009

Women's Softball

by Jonathan Thompson

It was a weekend of ups and downs for the Liberty Lady Flames’ Softball team. The bright side, they claimed a three-game sweep over conference leader Charleston Southern. The bad news, Sophomore pitcher Tiffany Smith was removed after five innings in game one due to an unknown injury.

Smith was stellar in her pitching duel with Sondra Vetter. Smith gave up only four hits, collected five strikeouts and only allowed one run, a solo shot to shortstop Megan Lombard in the sixth.

“She gave us five great innings,” Coach Paul Wetmore said, “but after that she just couldn’t get her breath.”

Wetmore and the team hope that Smith will be back up to full strength after the 7-10 day rest prescribed by doctors.

Senior pitcher Sarah Ellis was brought in to relieve Smith, and collected the win retiring the last five Lady Bucs. Sophomore
catcher Keely McMillon was the hero on the offensive side for
Liberty as she provided a two-run triple in the bottom of the sixth, driving in sophomore center fielder Amber DePasquale and senior first baseman Beth Bennett.

“It felt awesome to finally connect with a ball,” McMillon said. “I just wanted to keep running, it felt great.”

Those two runs provided the win for the Lady Flames, setting the stage for the entire weekend. Come from behind wins, but more importantly, production from the entire lineup were on the menu for Charleston Southern.

With Smith out, Ellis was called upon to pitch the final two games of the crucial series. She proved more than up to the task, allowing only two runs in each game and picking up two more wins, moving her record to 8-14 on the season.

“I’m just glad that the team came out and got three wins,” Ellis said. “Whether I get them or not doesn’t really matter to me. It was so clutch after getting swept by Winthrop last weekend, and hopefully it will keep going.”

Liberty was not lacking in offense during the final two contests, as they would rack up 10 hits in game two, and 11 hits in game three. Freshman shortstop Kelly Strickland, sophomore designated player Ashley Bensinger and Bennett all collected home runs in the series.

Bennett led the Lady Flames over the weekend, going 5-for-8 with three RBI’s and two runs scored. Strickland was 4-8 with two runs scored and one RBI. McMillon, Bensinger and freshman right fielder Kaylee West all recorded multi-hit games as well. Eight of the nine starters for Liberty had at least two hits over the
series

“We did well. We hit the ball hard,” Bennett said. “It feels good that our girls are not going to give up. Something happened up at UVa, and we just came out of our shell, and now we are just
running with it.”

“The key is, we got production from our seven, eight and nine hitters,” Wetmore said. “One through six have been doing well, and our bottom three really stepped up this series. That was the key.”

Liberty lost two games earlier in the week to UVa, both come from behind wins for the Cavaliers. Liberty collected 18 hits over the two games and only lost by one run each game.

But even after a sweep of the conference leaders, Liberty is not out of the woods yet. There is still a question of whether or not Smith will be able to pitch.

“We hope that she will be able to go for the Gardner Webb series,” Wetmore said. “If she can’t, we have no idea what we are going to do. We cant pitch Sarah (Ellis) every day, especially during conference play.”

Liberty does have two freshmen who could spell Ellis, or split Smith’s shift if she is unable to pitch for an extended amount of time.

“We really have no idea,” Wetmore said, “(Smith) is a great kid, and right now we are just trusting in God to work everything out.”

Contact Jonathan Thompson at
jmthompson@liberty.edu.

 


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