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Despite 5-Run Rally, Liberty Falls to Coastal Carolina, 9-5
Liberty mounted a five-run rally to tie the game in the bottom of the second, but Coastal Carolina scored three third-inning tallies on the way to a 9-5 victory over the Lady Flames on Saturday.
Prior to Saturday's game, the Lady Flames softball team honored its two graduating seniors, in outfielder Jill Stephens and manager Abbie Seale, with a pregame Senior Day ceremony.
Coastal Carolina has finished its regular-season schedule at 34-20, with a 19-5 record in Big South games, after sweeping this weekend's series. The Lady Flames are 19-33 overall, and wrapped up conference play with an 8-16 league mark.
Sammi Shivock batted 2-for-4 with her team-leading 13th double of the season, while driving in three runs. Kelby Allen batted 2-for-3 and hit her team-high ninth home run of the campaign. Stephens added an RBI and a run scored on her Senior Day.
Brooke Donovan went 3-for-3 with a homer and three RBIs, while Morgan Noad hit a grand slam and Kory Hayden added a round tripper for the Chanticleers.
Kiana Quolas (21-9) pitched the final 5 1/3 innings in relief of starter Ashley Bagwell, allowing no runs on four hits and fanning three. Bagwell yielded five runs on three hits, walking two and hitting a batter.
Annah Jo Brittingham (8-12) drew the loss after giving up four runs (three earned) on four hits, and recorded three strikeouts in six innings of relief pitching. Liberty starting pitcher Chandler Ball yielded five runs (four earned) on three hits in one inning of work.
The visitors struck quickly, plating five runs during the first inning. The first two batters reached, and a double steal put runners on second and third with nobody out. Bri Chiusano crossed the plate on a fielding error, making it 1-0. After a walk and a flyout, Noad cleared the bases, boosting Coastal's lead to 5-0. A pair of flyouts ended the top of the first.
Brittingham entered the circle in the second frame, and pitched a 1-2-3 inning.
The Lady Flames rallied to tie the score during the home half of the second. Allen led off with a homer to straightaway center field. With one out, Kassiy McCoy was hit, and Megan Robinson walked. Katie Zavodny hit a two-out single, filling the bases. Stephens walked, drawing Liberty to within 5-2. Shivock then slammed a three-run double to left off of new pitcher Quolas, leveling the score at 5-5.
Coastal Carolina responded to Liberty's scoring barrage by recording three tallies in the next stanza. Cacia Pierre singled to lead off, and Jazmin Daigle reached on an error. With one out, Brooke Donovan launched a three-run home run to center, good for an 8-5 Coastal edge.
After a three-batter fourth for the Chanticleers, Robinson hit a leadoff single in the bottom of the frame. The Lady Flames left a runner on second, and Coastal's three-run advantage remained.
The visitors received two baserunners with two outs during the fifth, before Sara Rasley flied out to end the threat.
With one out in the bottom of the fifth inning, Amber Donovan doubled. Allen followed by singling, pushing runners to first and third. Quolas escaped the jam with a strikeout and a groundout.
Hayden tacked on an insurance run for the Chanticleers, hitting her team-leading 15th homer of the season to open the seventh inning. Brittingham then fanned the next two batters, before getting Noad to fly out.
Quolas retired the Lady Flames in order in the seventh, securing the 9-5 victory and series sweep for Coastal Carolina.
The Lady Flames will wrap up their 2013 regular-season slate on Tuesday, hosting the Virginia Tech Hokies for two games at Liberty Softball Field. Game one between Liberty and Virginia Tech is set to begin at 2 p.m. on Tuesday.