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Lady Flames Pull Away From Gardner-Webb, 13-5
Facing an early, 3-1 deficit, the Liberty softball team posted a pair of six-run innings on the way to a 13-5, six-inning victory over Gardner-Webb on Saturday.
With the win, the Lady Flames advance to 19-21, including 8-8 in conference play after winning the weekend series, 2-1. Gardner-Webb falls to 7-27, with a 4-14 Big South mark. Liberty has now won its last two conference series finales in lopsided fashion, including a 15-4 win at Charleston Southern last Sunday.
Sammi Shivock went 3-for-3 with a double and a three-run homer, while Amber Donovan hit a three-run round tripper of her own. Jill Stephens and Katie Zavodny both recorded two hits, with Zavodny scoring twice and Stephens tying a career high with three runs scored. Blair Lawrence plated two runs with her second career double.
Samantha Meenaghan batted 3-for-4 with a home run and three RBIs, while Taylar Pridgen went 3-for-3 and Scarlett Harris hit 2-for-3.
Chandler Ball (8-9) earned the win, allowing two runs on three hits, with three strikeouts, in three innings of relief pitching. Starting pitcher Annah Jo Brittingham lasted three innings, giving up three runs on seven hits.
Ashley Rhyne (4-11) drew the loss after yielding four runs on three hits over the first 3 1/3 innings of the game. Alyssa Gutierrez allowed seven runs (four earned) on six hits in two innings of relief.
Liberty took a quick, 1-0 lead during the bottom of the first inning. A pair of walks and a Shivock single loaded the bases with one out. Kelby Allen then drove in Stephens with a sacrifice fly, good for a 1-0 Liberty advantage.
Gardner-Webb jumped ahead with a two-run second inning. Harris doubled to lead off, and scored on a Mariana Gallardo two-bagger. Meenaghan singled, plating Gallardo with the go-ahead run.
The Runnin' Bulldogs added to their lead in the second. With Savannah Burns on first and one out, Harris doubled to left center, giving Gardner-Webb a 3-1 advantage.
Ball entered the circle in relief of Brittingham in the top of the fourth inning, and struck out two batters in a scoreless frame.
The Lady Flames' offense exploded in the bottom of the fourth. Lawrence lined a two-run double off the fence in left field, tying the score at 3-3. After Gutierrez entered the circle, Zavodny singled, and then Stephens drove in Lawrence with a single. Shivock hit a three-run homer, boosting Liberty's lead to 7-4. A fielder's choice and a runner caught stealing ended the inning.
Gardner-Webb received two baserunners in the fifth, as Burns walked and Melinda Dulkowski reached on an error. Ball then got Jordyn Arrowood to ground out for the third out.
The Runnin' Bulldogs trimmed the deficit to two, 7-5, in the top of the sixth, as Meenaghan followed Pridgen's one-out single with a home run.
Liberty put the game away during the sixth stanza. A three-base throwing error put leadoff batter Zavodny on third. Stephens plated her with a single, and Shivock walked. After a fielder's choice, Allen hit an RBI single. Jessica Childers then came on in relief of Gutierrez. Donovan hit a two-out, three-run blast over the fence in left field, pushing the lead to 12-5. An error extended the inning, and Zavodny put the finishing touches on the run-rule victory with an RBI single.
The Lady Flames remain home, and will face Longwood in a doubleheader on Monday at Liberty Softball Field. Game one for Monday's twin bill is set to begin at 5 p.m.