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Sixth-Seeded Lady Flames Power Past No. 3 Seed Longwood, 5-3
The sixth-seeded Liberty softball team opened the 2013 Big South Softball Championship with a 5-3 victory over No. 3 seed Longwood, Thursday at Terry Field in Rock Hill, S.C.
The Lady Flames (20-35) homered three times during the contest, and scored two runs during the final frame to secure the upset victory over Longwood (36-18). Liberty had dropped its final 14 games in a row to close out the regular season, and snapped their winless streak against Longwood.
Liberty continued a trend on day one of the 2013 Big South Softball Championship, as the lower seed won four out of the five games.
The Lady Flames' three home runs tied a season high, and were the most by Liberty in a conference tournament game since going deep three times in a 3-0 victory over Winthrop in the 2011 Big South Softball Championship's elimination round.
Liberty advances to face No. 2 seed Campbell in the winner's bracket on 4:30 p.m. tomorrow.
Chandler Ball (9-16) picked up the complete-game victory, allowing three runs on six hits while walking five and striking out four.
Katie Zavodny batted 2-for-4 with an RBI, while Kassidy McCoy batted 2-for-3 with a double. Amber Donovan, Jill Stephens and Hanna Nichols all hit homers for the Lady Flames.
Megan Baltzell hit a two-run homer for Longwood, her NCAA Division I-leading 27th of the season. Katie Shinrock added an RBI single.
Longwood pitcher Libby Morris (16-8) drew the loss, yielding two runs on three hits with striking out four in 4 2/3 innings of relief work. Lancers starter Brooke Short gave up three runs on five hits over the first 2 1/3 innings of the game.
The Lady Flames jumped ahead quickly, crossing the plate twice in the first inning. Zavodny led off with a single, but was erased on a double play. Sammi Shivock singled with two outs, and Donovan blasted a two-run homer to right, good for a 2-0 Liberty advantage.
Longwood leadoff batter Kori Nishitomi drew a walk and stole second in the bottom of the first. The Lancers failed to cash in, as Ball retired the next three batters in a row.
McCoy hit a one-out double during the top of the second, before Short got out of the inning with a fielder's choice and a popout.
Stephens lined a homer to right with one out in the top of the third, boosting Liberty's lead to 3-0. Morris then came on in relief of Short to record the final two outs.
Longwood entered the scoring column with a two-out rally in the bottom of the third. Nishitomi doubled, and Baltzell then lined a round tripper to center, drawing the Lancers to within 3-2. Following a single by Short, Zavodny made a running catch for the third out.
The Lancers tied the game up during the fourth frame. Carly Adams and Jordan Cox recorded back-to-back singles, and then Shinrock plated Adams with a single to left. After Ball walked Nishitomi to load the bases, she got Baltzell to pop out, and the game went to the fifth, tied 3-3.
Morris retired the Lady Flames in order during both the fourth and fifth innings. Short then walked as the leadoff batter in the bottom of the fifth. After going to second on a sacrifice bunt, Short was caught stealing, bringing the inning to a close.
A scoreless sixth inning ensued, sending the game into the seventh inning in a 3-3 deadlock.
Liberty regained its lead during the top of the seventh, as Nichols led off with a home run to center. McCoy followed by singling up the middle, and pinch runner Marybeth Sciolino went to third on a sacrifice bunt and a groundout. Zavodny then plated Sciolino with a single down the left field line, making it 5-3, Liberty.
Ball faced the top of Longwood's lineup in the bottom of the final frame, and got two quick outs. After walking Short, she got Emily Murphy to pop out to third, sealing Liberty's 5-3 opening-round victory.