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Lady Flames Set to Begin Big South Tournament, Thursday Against Longwood

May 7, 2013
|  Lynchburg, Va.
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Liberty softball opens the 2013 Big South Softball Championship on Thursday at 7:30 p.m., with a first-round matchup against No. 3 seed Longwood.

Complete Game Notes

Liberty (19-35, 8-16 Big South) enters the Big South Softball Championship as the sixth seed for the second year in a row. The Lady Flames take on conference newcomer, third-seeded Longwood (36-17, 16-8) in a first-round matchup on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at Terry Field in Rock Hill, S.C.

The Games
The winner of Thursday's game between Liberty and Longwood will face the winner of No. 2 Campbell and No. 7 Gardner-Webb, Friday at 4:30 p.m. The losers of those two first-round contests will meet in an elimination game at 11:30 a.m. on Friday.

How to Follow the Lady Flames
Fans can follow all of Liberty's conference tournament games through GameTracker live stats, provided by the Liberty Athletics Communications office. Each Lady Flames contest will also be broadcast on 90.9 FM The Light, with Alan York calling the action. A live video stream will be available for all games, for a nominal fee, through the Big South Network. Sunday's championship final will be broadcast live nationally on ESPNU.

Quick Hits
- Liberty is 36-35 all-time in Big South Softball Championship play, winning the title in 2002 and 2011 and placing second in 1998, 2000, 2008 and 2009.
- Both of Liberty's conference championships have been won in Rock Hill, S.C.
- 20th-year head coach Paul Wetmore will retire after the conclusion of the 2013 season.
- The Lady Flames have competed in conference final three out of the last five years.
- The Lady Flames are looking to snap a 14-game winless streak (longest of season).
- Sammi Shivock was named to Capital One Academic All-District Team.
- Katie Zavodny has stolen a program-record 41 bases this season.

Liberty vs. Longwood
Longwood (36-17, 16-8) boasts one of the top offenses in NCAA Division I softball, ranking in the top 25 in most major offensive categories nationally. Three Lancers bat .400 or better, in Kori Nishitomi (.446,  Big South-record 75 runs scored), Brooke Short (.433, 17 home runs, 63 RBIs) and Megan Baltzell (.423, conference-record 26 homers, 71 RBIs). Emily Murphy bats .309 with 10 homers and 56 RBIs. Short (18-8, 2.97 ERA) and Libby Morris (16-7, 3.23) share time at pitcher.

Longwood holds a 25-13 edge all-time against Liberty, with the Lancers winning the last two meetings. The last five Liberty-Longwood softball games, dating to May 5, 2012, have been high-scoring contests. The average score of those five tilts was 9-7, in favor of Longwood. During the last two years, Longwood is 3-2 against Liberty, winning by scores of 11-3, 14-6 and 9-2, with the Lady Flames winning its two games, 14-6 and 8-7.

Series Recap - 2013
Liberty built a 6-1 lead over the Lancers, April 8, and held off a furious rally from Longwood to win, 8-7. The Liberty win snapped an eight-game winning streak for the Lancers. Katie Zavodny went 3-for-5 with two runs scored for Liberty, while Hanna Nichols was 2-for-4 with two RBIs. Megan Baltzell drove in two runs for the Lancers.

On April 15, Longwood downed Liberty twice, 14-6 and 9-2.

During game one, Liberty's Kelby Allen hit two homers, while Amber Donovan added a three-run blast. Baltzell and Brooke Short both hit home runs for Longwood, while the Lancers added five doubles.
Kassidy McCoy of Liberty hit her first career home run during game two of the twin bill.

Coach Wetmore to End Successful 20-Year Career as Lady Flames' Head Coach
Liberty softball head coach Paul Wetmore has announced his retirement, as his 20-year head coaching career will come to a close following the conclusion of this season.

Wetmore is the winningest head coach in Liberty athletics history, with 546 coaching victories. The Lady Flames' head coach since the program was reinstated in 1994 following a seven-year absence, Wetmore has coached every game that Liberty softball has played at the Division I level. He has guided the Lady Flames to nine 30-win seasons, two 40-win campaigns, two conference tournament titles, and three Big South regular-season championships.

While at Liberty, Wetmore has coached the best players in program history, spotlighted by two All-Americans (Jessica Moore, 2007 and Kelly Strickland, 2011). Also, the Lady Flames have claimed six victories against top 25 programs, including wins over No. 6 Michigan and No. 10 Baylor in 2007 and a doubleheader sweep of No. 24 Virginia Tech in 2006.

Where Champions Compete
Liberty has been very successful in Big South Softball Championships held in Rock Hill, S.C. The Lady Flames claimed their first two conference titles there, in 2002 and 2011, while finishing as runner-up in 1998 and 2008 when Winthrop hosted the tournament. Each of the last two times that the Big South Softball Championship was contested in Rock Hill, Liberty made it to the final round. 

In 2002, the fifth-seeded Lady Flames swept through the conference tournament to earn their first Big South title. Nine years later, No. 2 seed Liberty dropped its first game to Winthrop before reeling off four straight victories to hoist the championship trophy.

Shivock Named to Capital One Academic All-District Team
Junior designated player Sammi Shivock was named to the 2013 Capital One Academic All-District III Softball Team. A native of New Castle, Del., Shivock holds a 3.81 GPA as a sport management major.

Shivock is the first Lady Flame to be voted to the Academic All-District team since Dawn Jeffs in 2007. In total, five Liberty softball players all-time have received the honor.

She bats .327 on the season and leads the team with career highs of 13 doubles and 42 RBIs. She has also hit seven home runs and scored 30 runs on the campaign.

End It
During their final doubleheader of the season, last Tuesday against Virginia Tech, the Lady Flames held an End It Game. The team wore red X symbols in support of the End It Movement, which shines a light on modern-day slavery in hopes of ending it.

The Lady Flames fell to the Hokies, 11-1, in game one, but led game two, 2-1, after six innings. Liberty pitcher Chandler Ball held the Hokies to one run on four hits through six frames before Virginia Tech rallied for three runs in the seventh to down Liberty, 4-2.

During game two, Kassidy McCoy hit her third career homer, while Katie Zavodny recorded her 41st stolen base of the campaign.

Record Setting
Katie Zavodny has stolen a program single-season-record 41 bases so far this season, breaking Stacy Radulovich's previous record of 39, set in 1996.

Zavodny has 79 career stolen bases, and needs two more steals to break Radulovich's career record of 80 (fourth all-time in Big South history), set from 1996-99.

Earlier this season, Zavodny set the single-game record for hits (5, twice), and tied Alycia Stevens' (1995) record with a 23-game hitting streak from Feb. 24 through April 3.

Zavodny leads the Big South and ranks sixth in NCAA Division I in stolen bases.

Double the Fun
Sammi Shivock leads Liberty with 13 doubles. She has recorded the most doubles by a Lady Flame since 2008, when Ashley Williams connected for 13 two-baggers.

Sophomore Amber Donovan has registered 10 doubles this season, matching her total from 2012 when she led Liberty with 10 two-baggers. Donovan is the third Lady Flame in program history to hit 10 or more doubles as a freshman and a sophomore, joining Amanda Maska (2002-04) and Ashley Williams (2005-08).

Conference Recap
The Lady Flames went 8-16 in league play this season, giving the team 41 Big South wins over the last four years. That total is good for its second-most conference victories over a four-year span in program history. Liberty won 43 Big South contests from 2009-12.

The team posted a series sweep of Presbyterian College, March 22-23. Liberty's 2-1 series victory over Gardner-Webb gave Liberty the tiebreaker over the Runnin' Bulldogs, as the two teams finished in a tie for sixth place.

Katie Zavodny hit .416 with 13 stolen bases and 21 runs scored during conference play, while Kelby Allen batted .397 with five homers and 20 RBIs. Hanna Nichols held a .360 batting average in league play, followed by Kassidy McCoy, at .299. Sammi Shivock (.284) drove in 21 runs, while Amber Donovan connected for five home runs. Chandler Ball tossed a complete-game shutout on April 3 versus Radford.