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Lady Flames Hold Off Pirates for 5-4 Win
The Lady Flames scored four runs in the first three innings and held off a late charge from East Carolina, closing out their play at the East Carolina Pirate Invitational with a 5-4 win over the host school on Sunday afternoon.
With the victory, the Lady Flames finished the tournament with a 2-3 record and are now 3-6 on the season. The loss, East Carolina's fourth in fifth games at their own event, drops the Pirates to 6-7 on the season.
The victory was Liberty's first over East Carolina since 2004 and the fourth in 37 tries against the former associate member of the Big South Conference.
Annah Jo Brittingham went the distance to up her record to 2-2 on the year with her second complete game of the season. The freshman allowed four runs (three earned) on eight hits, while walking four and striking out one.
The Lady Flames tied a season high, pounding out 13 hits. Five Liberty players finished the game with multiple hits, led by Sammi Shivock, who was 3-for-4 with two runs scored and two RBIs.
Katie Zavodny, Holly Seiz and Amber Donovan each finished the game 2-for-4, while Kelby Allen was 2-for-3.
Courtney Smith took the loss for the homestanding Pirates, falling to 0-2 after allowing three runs on three hits in two innings of work. Sarah Christian finished off the last five innings, allowing two runs (one earned) and 10 hits.
Kristi Oshiro was Pirates' offensive leader, finishing the game 2-for-3 with a run scored and another driven in.
Seiz and Shivock gave the Lady Flames a quick 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning thanks to Liberty's fourth and fifth home runs at the tournament.
Seiz continued her hot hitting, starting the two-run burst with a solo shot to left center, followed by Shivock's second round tripper of the season to center field.
The Lady Flames doubled their lead in the top of the third inning thanks to a trio of hits and a fielding error by East Carolina.
Zavodny led off the inning with an infield single and advanced on a base hit to right field by Seiz. Shivock followed with an RBI single to left field, pushing Liberty's lead to three.
Following a fielder's choice play, East Carolina looked like it was going to get out of the inning, as Grace Nordan grounded to second. However, the ball was misplayed, allowing Shivock to score and give Liberty a 4-0 lead.
The four-run advantage was short lived, as the third home run of the game trimmed Liberty's lead in half. After Brittingham retired the first two batters of the inning, Liberty's freshman starter hit Oshiro with an inside pitch. Alex Fieldhouse directly followed with her team-leading third home run of the year, a two-run shot to left field, cutting the Liberty lead to 4-2.
The Lady Flames got one of the runs back in the top of the fifth inning when Liberty strung together three consecutive base hits to push its lead to 5-2.
Donovan started the scoring frame with a double to the gap in right center. Nordan followed with an infield single, while Allen drove in Donovan with a base hit through the left side to give the Lady Flames a three-run lead.The home team was able to cut its deficit to one run, 5-4, during the home half of the fifth inning, starting with a single off the bat of Meredith Mitchell to open the frame.
Next, Jill Jelnick ground the ball up the middle and Megan Robinson made a nice diving stop, but her throw to second base to force the lead runner was just off, allowing Mitchell to get into scoring position.
Oshiro followed with a double down the left field line, plating Mitchell. Two batters later, Casey Alcorn dropped a single between Robinson and Donovan in right, driving in Jelnick and leaving the bases load. However, Brittingham was able to buckle down and get the last two out to maintain Liberty's overall lead.
Both teams threatened in the seventh inning, but neither team could add runs to the scoreboard.
Liberty loaded the bases during its final at bat. Christian got the last two Liberty batters to pop the ball up in the infield to keep East Carolina's deficit to one.
Oshiro led off the bottom of the seventh with a double down the right field line; however, the second baseman was erased when Allen threw her out trying to steal third base.
The Lady Flames will return to action on Tuesday when they host in-state foe Hampton in Liberty's 2013 home opener. First pitch for the non-conference doubleheader is slated for 2 p.m. at the Liberty Softball Field.