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Liberty Softball to Face Longwood, N.C. Central This Week
The Liberty softball team opens a busy week on Thursday, traveling to Farmville, Va., for a 4:30 p.m. doubleheader against defending Big South champion Longwood. The Lady Flames (2-21, 0-3 Big South) and Lancers (13-5, 2-0) wrap up the series on March 27 at 4 p.m. Liberty returns home for a three-game non-conference series against North Carolina Central (3-17), Friday and Saturday at Liberty Softball Field.
The Lady Flames' doubleheader on Saturday will be held in conjunction with Liberty's Play 4 Kay day, as the Liberty Athletics Department will host events to benefit the Kay Yow Cancer Fund.
Play 4 Kay Information
Liberty and Longwood split four meetings last season, with the Lady Flames knocking off the eventual champion Lancers, 5-3, in the first round of the 2013 Big South Softball Championship. Overall, Longwood holds 25-14 record in the all-time series.
Liberty is 4-0 all-time against N.C. Central, winning all three matchups last year.
Flames at a Glance
The Lady Flames enter the week winless in their last 16 games. Most recently, Liberty went 0-3 in a Big South-opening series against Campbell, despite the Lady Flames launching six homers during the three-game home set versus the Camels.
Senior Katie Zavodny leads Liberty with a .338 average and 14 runs scored and 16 stolen bases. Hanna Nichols bats .333, while Kelby Allen (.262) leads the team with six doubles, three homers and 12 RBIs. Nichols and Sammi Shivock (.261) have both driven in seven runs, while Megan Robinson is tied with Allen for the lead, with three homers.
Senior RHP Alyssa DiMartino (1-9, 4.54 ERA) allowed just one earned run through her first five appearances. Sophomore RHP Annah Jo Brittingham (1-11) pitched her team-best fifth complete game on March 9 against Western Illinois.
How to Follow the Lady Flames
Fans can follow all of this week's games through live stats. Live stats can be accessed through the Live Stats link on LibertyFlames.com. Thursday's doubleheader between Liberty and Longwood can be viewed, free of charge, online through the Big South Network.
Liberty vs. Longwood (Longwood leads, 25-14)
Defending Big South champion Longwood (13-5, 2-0 Big South), has won six in a row, and seven out of its last eight, including a sweep of CSU to open Big South play, Saturday. Longwood bats .289 to lead the Big South. The Lancers have three players batting .360 or better, in 2013 NFCA All-American Megan Baltzell (.415), Emily Murphy (.380) and Chelsea Sciacca (.362). Longwood freshmen Jenna Carnes (3-0, 1.33 ERA) and Elizabeth McCarthy (5-2, 2.10) have been top cotributors in the circle, as Longwood is second in the conference with a 2.43 ERA.
Longwood holds a 25-14 all-time lead against Liberty in softball, while these two programs are 2-2 as Big South opponents. Last year, the visiting team won all three regular-season meetings between Liberty and Longwood. Liberty's Kelby Allen has found success against the Lancers, with two-homer games versus Longwood in both 2012 and 2013.
Liberty vs. Longwood - 2013 Recap
Liberty and Longwood split four meetings last year, while the Lady Flames were the only team to defeat the Lancers at the 2013 Big South Softball Championship.
On April 8 in Farmville, Liberty built a 6-1 lead over the Lancers, holding off a furious rally from Longwood to win, 8-7. Katie Zavodny went 3-for-5 with two runs scored.
Longwood then downed Liberty twice, 14-6 and 9-2, on April 15. During game one, Liberty's Kelby Allen hit two homers, while Amber Donovan added a three-run blast. Megan Baltzell and Brooke Short both hit home runs for Longwood, while the Lancers added five doubles. Kassidy McCoy hit her first career home run during game two.
Liberty opened the conference tournament with a 5-3 win over Longwood, homering three times. Chandler Ball allowed three runs on six hits, while Liberty's Amber Donovan, Jill Stephens and Hanna Nichols all homered.
Last year, Katie Zavodny batted .529 versus Longwood, while Kelby Allen (.417), Kassidy McCoy (.400) and Hanna Nichols (.357) all hit .300+ against the Lancers.
Liberty vs. N.C. Central (Liberty leads, 4-0)
N.C. Central enters this week with a 3-17 record, having won three in a row against Maryland Eastern Shore over the weekend. The Eagles play a doubleheader at Norfolk State on Tuesday before heading to Lynchburg. London Germ leads NCCU with a .407 average and 11 runs scored, while Emerie Germ bats .345 with 10 RBIs. De'onne Smith (.273) and Jenny Tracy (.250) have hit two home runs apiece. London Booker in 1-9 with a 5.67 ERA.
Liberty is 4-0 all-time against N.C. Central, defeating the Eagles, 14-5, on Feb. 11, 2012 before winning all three meetings (8-4, 4-1, 16-3) last March in Durham, N.C. In the teams' most recent matchup, March 10, 2013, Liberty erupted for 16 runs and 14 hits, defeating NCCU, 16-3, behind a nine-run fourth inning. Katie Han drove in a career-high four runs, while 10 different Lady Flames crossed the plate.
Liberty hit a season-high four home runs in a 9-8 setback on Friday against Campbell. It marked the Lady Flames' most homers in a game since recording four longballs on April 10, 2012 against North Carolina A&T. It was the most home runs Liberty hit in a Big South game since going deep four times against Radford on March 26, 2011.
Kelby Allen and Sammi Shivock hit back-to-back homers in the first inning against Campbell on Friday, the first Lady Flames to hit back-to-back home runs since Holly Seiz and Shivock did so at East Carolina, Feb. 24, 2013.
The Lady Flames hit six home runs over the weekend, more than doubling their season total of four coming into the series.
Hanna Nichols and Megan Robinson both connected for two homers against Campbell. Robinson and Kelby Allen are tied for the team lead, with three homers apiece.
Senior Sammi Shivock joined elite company on Friday, recording her 100th career RBI with a solo homer in the first inning. She is now ranked eighth all-time at Liberty with 107 runs scored, and is seventh with 101 RBIs.
She is the fourth Liberty player all-time to have recorded both 100 runs and 100 RBIs, joining program standouts Jessica Moore (2005-07), Ashley Williams (2005-08) and Shivock's former teammate, Kelly Strickland (2009-12).
Racing to the Front
Senior Katie Zavodny, Liberty's career record holder in stolen bases, moved into third place all-time in Big South history with her 95th career steal, Friday against Campbell. She is only three stolen bases behind Ashley Carlson of Radford (2005-08), and with five more steals would become just the second player in conference history with 100 or more stolen bases. Jessica Falca of Coastal Carolina (1996-99) holds the Big South record with 196.
Power Throughout the Lineup
This past weekend, seven different Lady Flames recorded at least one extra-base hit against Campbell, as Liberty totaled four doubles, one triple and six home runs.
Hanna Nichols led the extra-base brigade, with a double and two home runs versus the Camels, while Megan Robinson hit two homers and Kelby Allen recorded a double and a round tripper over the weekend.