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Liberty Softball Set to Compete in Pirate Invitational
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The Liberty softball team (1-3) heads to Greenville, N.C., to compete in the Pirate Invitational, hosted by East Carolina, Friday through Sunday. The Lady Flames closed out the KSU Invitational on Sunday with a 5-2 win over IUPUI, slugging three homers while getting three stolen bases from Katie Zavodny. Annah Jo Brittingham pitched a complete-game five-hitter in the win.
Liberty takes on Lehigh at 10 a.m. on Friday, followed by a noon matchup with Fairfield. Lehigh and Fairfield both open their respective seasons against the Lady Flames. On Saturday, Liberty meets Fairfield and Notre Dame, before closing the tournament on Sunday at 1 p.m. against the host East Carolina Pirates.
This invitational features a strong field, as both Lehigh and Notre Dame won 40 games and made the NCAA Tournament last season. Fairfield was picked to win the 2013 MAAC title, while Liberty and ECU both made the NCAA postseason as recently as 2011.
How to Follow the Lady Flames
Fans can follow all of Liberty's games this weekend through Gametracker, provided by the East Carolina Athletics Media Relations office. Live stats can be accessed through the Live Stats link on LibertyFlames.com. Also, Liberty's game against East Carolina on Sunday will be video streamed, for a small fee, through ECU's All-Access Video page.
- The Lady Flames went 1-3 at the KSU Invitational, including a 5-2 win over IUPUI.
- Head coach Paul Wetmore has led the Lady Flames throughout their Division I era.
- Liberty has five players hitting .300 or better so far this season.
- Amber Donovan has opened the campaign with a four-game hitting streak.
- Katie Zavodny stole three bases against IUPUI, now 4th in school history (41 steals).
- Annah Jo Brittingham - first Liberty freshman pitcher since 2004 to start season opener.
- The Lady Flames' roster includes 9 freshmen, 6 sophomores and 7 juniors.
- Liberty has competed in the East Carolina Invitational four times (2004-06, 2008).
Liberty went 1-3 at the KSU Classic in Woodstock, Ga., this past weekend.
The Lady Flames opened the season with a 10-3, eight-inning loss to Tennessee Tech. Freshman pitcher Annah Jo Brittingham became the first Liberty freshman pitcher to start the season opener since Kayla Maddox in 2004.
After losses to Eastern Kentucky (4-0) and SIU Edwardsville (4-3), the Lady Flames exploded for three homers during a 5-2 win over IUPUI on Sunday.
Sammi Shivock, Grace Nordan and Hanna Nichols all went yard against IUPUI, while Nichols had a career-high three RBIs and Katie Zavodny stole a career-high three bases. Brittingham pitched a complete-game five-hitter for the victory.
Liberty's lineup currently features five .300 hitters at present. Hanna Nichols is batting .667 (4-for-6) with a homer and two RBIs.
Amber Donovan has hit .385 with two doubles so far, recording base hits in all four games.
Liberty's 1-2 batters, Blair Lawrence and Katie Zavodny, are hitting .357 and .333, respectively, while Sammi Shivock sports a .308 average.
Three freshmen - pitcher Annah Jo Brittingham, first baseman Katie Han and third baseman Blair Lawrence - appeared in Coach Wetmore's opening-day starting lineup against Tennessee Tech last Saturday. The last time three or more freshmen started the season opener also came against Tennessee Tech, on Feb. 22, 2008.
Current volunteer assistant coach Keely McMillon started at catcher in the 2008 opener, joined by fellow freshmen Cassie Hendrix, Amber DePasquale and Elena Lampman.
Off and Running
Katie Zavodny stole a career-high three bases on Sunday against IUPUI, moving her past both Meredith Crisante and Jessica Moore into fourth on Liberty's all-time stolen bases list with 41.
Zavodny's three steals against IUPUI were the most by a Lady Flame since Libi Cook stole three bases on May 7, 1999 against Charleston Southern. She became the seventh Lady Flame since 1994 with three or more steals in a single game. The program's Division I record of four, is held by Susan Naylor, Stacy Radulovich and Paula Smith.
Liberty's bats came alive against IUPUI, with a season-high 13 hits and three home runs. It was the team's best power-hitting performance since last year's regular-season finale, a 14-6 win over Longwood, when the Lady Flames also hit three homers.
The Lady Flames' 13 hits on Sunday were their most since registering 17 hits against North Carolina A&T on April 10, 2012.
Busy Schedule Ahead
Starting on Friday against Lehigh, the Lady Flames compete in nine games over the span of six days, the most in a six-day stretch this season. Liberty plays in three different states during that time.
After an off day on Monday, Liberty hosts Hampton for its home-opening doubleheader on Tuesday, before travelling to Johnson City, Tenn., for a Wednesday twin bill against East Tennessee State.
Liberty vs. Lehigh (Lehigh leads all-time series, 2-0)
Lehigh opens its 2013 season on Friday against the Lady Flames. The Mountain Hawks are two-time defending Patriot League Champions, going 40-19 with an 18-2 conference mark last season. The team has been predicted to make it three titles in a row this season, with Liz Lucas and Becca Bliss named Preseason Player and Pitcher of the Year, respectively. In addition to Bliss and Lucas, infielder Emma Capetz, outfielder Rosie Roessel and pitcher Emily Bausher are returning All-Patriot League selections.
Liberty is 0-2 all-time against Lehigh, with the Mountain Hawks defeating the Lady Flames, 5-1, on Feb. 27, 2004 and by a 3-2 score on March 22, 1996.
Liberty vs. Fairfield (Liberty leads all-time series, 3-1)
Fairfield, like Lehigh, will begin its season against Liberty. The Stags were voted first in the MAAC Preseason Softball poll after going 31-27 and tying for second in the league last year. Fairfield has been runner up in each of the last two MAAC Softball Championships.Four Fairfield players - catcher Lauren Liseth, infielder Kristen Filicia, outfielder Sammy Ruffolo and pitcher Rebecca Trott - appear on the preseason all-conference team. Liseth and Filicia were first team all-conference selections a year ago.
Liberty holds a 3-1 record against Fairfield, winning the most recent meeting, 8-0, on March 2, 2007. Beth Bennett went 3-for-3 with a homer and four RBIs. Fairfield's only win over Liberty came on March 5, 2006, in Greenville, N.C., a 6-5 Stags victory.
Liberty vs. Notre Dame (Notre Dame leads series, 2-0)
Notre Dame (4-5) was picked to finish second in the BIG EAST this season. The team took No. 1 Oklahoma to the limit before falling, 7-5, in nine innings on Sunday. The Fighting Irish went 40-16 a year ago, placing second in the BIG EAST and qualifying for the NCAA Tournament for the 14th year in a row. Laura Winter, the 2012 BIG EAST Pitcher of the Year, has a 2.97 ERA. Catcher Amy Buntin, a 2012 NFCA All-America second team honoree, was named to the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Watch List. Returning all-conference outfielder Kelsey Thornton is batting .345 with six stolen bases.
Notre Dame has won both meetings against Liberty, including a 6-4 win on Feb. 27, 2011. Liberty rallied from a 6-0 deficit by scoring the game's final four runs. The Fighting Irish held off the Lady Flames, 3-2, on Feb. 28, 1999.
Liberty vs. East Carolina (East Carolina leads, 32-3)
East Carolina (5-3) is hosting a tournament for the third straight weekend. The Pirates are a perennial Conference USA power, winning the conference tournament in 2010 and 2011. Jill Jelnick, a 2011 Conference USA All-Conference outfielder, was named to the Conference USA Preseason All-Conference team. Sarah Christian, named to the C-USA All-Freshman team last year, is ECU's leading pitcher, with a 4-1 record and 1.62 ERA in 2013. Kristi Oshiro leads the Pirates with a .520 batting average and nine runs scored, while Alex Fieldhouse bats .450 with six RBIs.
East Carolina holds a 32-3 advantage in the all-time series with Liberty, winning the most recent four meetings, including a 7-3 decision on Feb. 29, 2008 in Greenville in the latest matchup. Liberty's last win over ECU, 6-5, came on April 17, 2004 in Lynchburg.