Apr 17, 2007

Getting Swor(n) in: Lady Flames senior Sarah Swor swats three homers in series sweep

by Jake Petersen, Sports Reporter
The Lady Flames softball team lost its chance to upset the Virginia Cavaliers when inclement weather postponed their doubleheader that was supposed to be played in Charlottesville.

Instead, Liberty took the extra rest and waited on Big South cellar-dweller Charleston Southern. The Lady Flames took them to task with three straight victories.

In the first game of the three game series, senior Sarah Swor delivered in a big way. With the Lady Flames up 2-0 in the sixth inning, Swor secured a victory when she connected on a 1-0 pitch from Buccaneer hurler Amanda Noble, sending it over the center field fence to put the Lady Flames up 4-0.

The Buccaneers tacked on a run in the following frame as Tiffany Reid doubled home Brittany Gianni. However, sophomore Sarah Ellis got Noble to fly out to left field, improving her record to 10-6 on the year.

Swor continued her hot hitting in the second game of Friday’s doubleheader as she and Big South Player of the Week Jessica Moore each blasted home runs in the sixth inning to propel the Lady Flames to victory.

In the second inning, after junior Ashley Williams reached on a two-base error by Gianni, Swor sent the first pitch she saw from Jillian LaFrance into the right center field gap.

Williams raced home to give the Lady Flames an early 1-0 lead. It was Swor’s fourth hit and fourth RBI in the series up to that point. With the Lady Flames down a run in the bottom of the sixth inning, Swor followed Moore’s solo shot with a two-run bomb of her own down the left field line.

The blast gave the Lady Flames the 4-2 victory as senior Terra Lowe set the Buccaneers down in order in the seventh inning to bring her record to 10-5 on the year as she scattered five hits over seven innings, striking out nine.

In the third game of the series on a rainy Saturday morning, the Lady Flames were looking to bring out the brooms in an attempt to sweep the Buccaneers.

Senior Dawn Jeffs got things started for the home team, reaching base on a single and moved to second on a perfect bunt by junior Shannon McKain.

After a walk to Moore, cleanup hitter Williams ripped a double to the center field wall, scoring Jeffs from second base.

Swor then stepped up and lofted a 0-1 delivery from pitcher Caitlin Allen over the left field fence, just past the outstretched glove of Jill Shondel for her third home run of the series.

After scoring four runs in the first, the Lady Flames came back with another three in the second inning, this time with a little small ball.

Freshman J’Nae Jefferson bunted her way to a single to lead off, but was unable to advance on a fielder’s choice off the bat of Jeffs.

Jeffs, however, was able to come around to score on a screaming double down the left field line by McKain, increasing the lead to 5-0.

Moore followed with a single up the middle, advancing McKain to third. A double steal allowed McKain to steal home and plate the sixth run of the contest.

Williams, who had three RBIs during the series, sent a 3-2 delivery right back through the middle to bring home Moore and increase the lead to 7-0 after two innings of play. Charleston Southern managed only two runs during the game and lost 7-2.

The Lady Flames cruised their way to their 12th victory over their last 14 games backed by nearly untouchable pitching by Ellis. The sophomore allowed only five hits and two earned runs over 4 2/3 innings and earned her second victory of the weekend.

Liberty currently stands at 27-16 overall and 5-1 in the Big South Conference standings heading into the final month of the season.

“It was good to finally come home and play well,” said Swor after the game. “With me being a senior, it was very nice to hit well here in front of the home crowd.”

“Right now, we’ve just been all about business,” said Head Coach Paul Wetmore. “We came out and scored early today, and I attribute that to beating nationally ranked teams such as Michigan, Hawaii and Baylor early on in the year. The investment of time and money for this program is really starting to pay off.”

The Lady Flames seem poised to make a run at the NCAA Tournament, although both players and coach are not setting it in stone.

“Conference games mean the most right now for us,” said Moore. “We’re planning on (making the tournament), but as of right now it’s not a definite.”

Wetmore echoed his center fielder’s statement, saying, “We have to win the Big South Conference to make it outright, but we could possibly make it as an at-large bid. We have to play well against Radford next weekend, but right now we are right where we need to be. We’ve got a lot of work to do, but we’re right on track.”

The Lady Flames will play host to Lynchburg College this afternoon at 3 p.m. at the Liberty softball field and will also host conference leader Radford in a three-game series this weekend.
A doubleheader starting on Friday at 2 p.m. will be followed by a single game on Saturday at 1 p.m.

Contact Jake Petersen at jtpetersen@liberty.edu.

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