Mar 24, 2009

Women's Softball

by Jonathan Thompson

After an exhausting spring break in Florida, where they played 14 games in nine days, the Lady Flames softball team was glad to return to the confines of Liberty Mountain.

Some well-deserved rest and relaxation was in order, but the Lady Flames were all business as they prepared to host Norfolk State in their 2009 home opener.

Liberty wasted no time getting on the board, as they notched the first run of the contest in the bottom of the first inning on a Danielle Howard single that brought in junior J’nae Jefferson from second.

The score remained 1-0 until the fifth inning, although both teams had opportunities to score. Jefferson was left stranded on second after a hit and a stolen base in the third, and the visiting Spartans wasted a bases loaded opportunity in the fourth.

Reigning Big South Pitcher of the Week Sarah Ellis held the Spartans in check long enough for her offense to catch up. Three insurance runs would come in the bottom of the fifth inning thanks to freshman shortstop Kelly Strickland.

Strickland notched the first home run of her collegiate career, clearing the center field wall and bringing home Howard and pinch runner Meredith Baisden.

“To step up and be there when the team needed it…it felt really great,” Strickland said.

Those insurance runs would be more than enough for Ellis, who completed the one-hit shutout, giving the Lady Flames’ a 4-0 victory in their home opener.

“It felt really good. To come and have a good show at home, and to be back in our comfort zone; it just felt great, and hopefully this streak will continue,” Ellis said.

And continue it did. Liberty would go on to sweep the double header by claiming a 3-1 victory behind sophomore Tiffany Smith later in the afternoon.

“Tiffany had a great game,” Head Coach Paul Wetmore said. “It was raining and she could hardly grip the ball, but she continued to go up there and throw strikes.”

The Lady Flames struck early again, posting a run in the bottom of the first, thanks to an RBI single by senior first baseman Beth Bennett that brought home junior Jenny Law.

Consistency was the name of the game for Liberty, as they would tack on two insurance runs in the bottom of the fifth, thanks to two errors by Norfolk State and a timely single by sophomore catcher Keely McMillon.

The Spartans threatened in the top of the seventh inning, getting an RBI double from center fielder Braineisha Eure, but Smith settled down and recorded the final outs to seal the twin bill sweep and move the Lady Flames’ record to 10-15 on the season.

Bennett led the Lady Flames, going 2-for-4 with one RBI, and Smith moved her record to 5-6 on the year.

“It felt great,” Bennett said. “To be able to come out here and show our home fans that we are ready to play, and ready to win for them.”

“We love playing here. We have been on the road for so long that it just feels great to be home,” Wetmore said. “We love our field, we love our fans, and we just love playing here.”

The Lady Flames will continue their home stand on March 24th with a doubleheader against Hampton, with the first game starting at 2:00 p.m.

Contact Jonathan Thompson at
jmthompson@liberty.edu.

 


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