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Nordan's Walk-Off Home Run Propels Liberty to Win
Grace Nordan ended a see-saw battle between Liberty and Fairfield in the opening game of the East Carolina Pirate Invitational, Friday morning. The shortstop's eighth inning two-run homer helped the Lady Flames rally, completing a 9-8 win for Liberty.
The victory was the Lady Flames' second in a row and moved Liberty to 2-3 on the season. The loss dropped the Stags to 0-1 in their 2013 season-opening game.
Both teams bats were active in the contest that was delayed an hour due to early morning rain showers in the area. Each team finished the game with 12 hits.
Nordan led the Lady Flames, finishing the game 3-for-5, spotlighted by her second home run of the year. Katie Zavodny (2-for-4), Holly Seiz (2-for-5, 3 RBIs) and Kelby Allen (2-for-4, 3 RS) each finished the game with multiple hits.
Chandler Ball (1-1) picked up her first win of the season in relief. The sophomore allowed an earned run on three hits in 2.1 innings of relief. Lady Flames' starting pitcher Annah Brittingham allowed six runs (three earned runs) on nine hits in 5.2 innings of no decision work.
Fairfield was offensively paced by Mikayla Shumate (3-of-5, 3 RS) and Tiffany Lawson (3-of-4, 1 RS).
Rae Ball (0-1) was the losing pitcher, as she allowed three runs (two earned) on four hits in three innings of work. Stags' starting pitcher Lauren Falkanger worked the first 4.1 innings of the game and finished with six runs allowed (four earned) on eight hits.
Fairfield got out to a quick 2-0 in the top of the first inning, jumpstarted by a single to left center by Shumate.
Brittingham then walked Kristen Filicia and stuck Lauren Liseth with a 0-2 pitch to load the bases. Brittingham continued to struggle a bit with her control, issuing a second walk in the inning to Taylor August to force in the game's first run.
After an infield pop-up for the second out of the frame, Lawson got down a bunt for a base hit, scoring Filicia and giving the visiting team on the scoreboard a 2-0 lead.
The Lady Flames answered back in the bottom of the second inning, thanks to the first career base hit for Seiz.
Allen opened the frame with a single up the middle. After getting the next two batters out, Falkanger walked Blair Lawrence and hit Zadony with a pitch to load the bases.
However, Seiz quickly cleared the bags with a triple off the base of the right field wall, giving the freshman her first career base hit and the Lady Flames a 3-2 lead.
The Lady Flames extended their lead in the bottom of the third inning thanks to a pair of base hits and a Fairfield fielding error.
Allen reached on a fielder's choice play followed directly by a single from Hanna Nichols to centerfield. The base hit was mishandled by Shumate, allowing Allen to score and push Liberty's lead to 4-2.
However, the two-run advantage was short lived after Fairfield manufactured a run. Lawson led off the inning with a bunt single and moved to second on sacrifice bunt by Falkanger.
After Lawson stole third base, the right fielder crossed the plate on a single up the middle off the bat of Shumate to pull Fairfield back within one run, 4-3.
Fairfield had a scoring opportunity in the fifth inning when Lawson had a two-out single to left field, but Lawrence was able to cleanly field the ball and throw pinch runner Nicole Capra out at the plate to keep the score the same.
The Lady Flames pushed their lead to three runs in the bottom of the fifth with one swing. After Nordan singled to right field, Allen followed with her first home run of the season and the fifth of her career. The two-run shot to left field gave the Lady Flames a 6-3 lead.
The Stags were able to string together three consecutive hits in the top of the sixth inning to help them tie the game at 6-6.
Following a fielding error that allowed Nikki Osofsky to each base, Sammy Ruffolo, Shumate and Filicia followed with singles, resulting in two runs. Liberty made a pitching change following the three base hits and Ball walked in the first batter she faced, forcing Shumate to score and knot the game at a half dozen runs for each team.
Neither team could push across a run in the seventh, sending the Lady Flames into their second extra inning game of the season.
The Lady Flames nearly got out of the eighth inning without allowing a run, but a two-out single to right field by Lawson plated Shumate and Liseth to give the Stags the temporary 8-6 lead.
In the bottom half of the frame, leadoff hitter Shivock traded places with international tiebreaker runner Seiz with her first double of the year.
Following an infield popup, Nordan struck a 1-2 pitch and sent it over the left field wall to secure the win and her fourth career home run.
The Lady Flames will continue action in the East Carolina Pirate Invitational later this afternoon when they face host East Carolina. First pitch is scheduled for 1:50 p.m.