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Lady Flames Take Third Place At Tar Heel Invitational With Victory Over Rutgers
With the victory, the Lady Flames raise their overall record to 8-4, marking the third-best start in the program's history. Liberty opened 2006 with a 10-4 record and the 1996 squad started the year by winning 17 of its first 21 games.
The Lady Flames jumped out on top in the second inning as Liberty plated three runs thanks to four hits during the frame. Courtney Johnson got things started with a single which clipped the glove of Shantai Dixon at third base, followed by a walk issued to Jessica Leary.
Dawn Jeffs provided Liberty with its first lead of the day as the second baseman connected on a three-run homer over the fence in right field, marking her third round tripper of the tournament and fourth of the season, to give Liberty a 3-0 edge.
Rutgers cut into Liberty's advantage in the top of the fourth inning, starting with a leadoff walk issued to Amanda Shaw. After moving to second on a sacrifice bunt, Shaw scored on a double to the gap in left-center field by Sarah Kalka.
The Scarlet Knights kept things rolling as Rutgers took advantage of a few Liberty miscues. The inning was kept alive by a two-out fielding error, with Kalka advancing to third, followed by a wild pitch which allowed Kalka to score and cut Liberty's lead to 3-2.
The long ball continued to play a factor for Liberty as the Lady Flames plated three more runs thanks to another three-run homer in the fourth inning.
Jeffs got the inning started by legging out an infield single, followed by a base knock through the left side of the infield by Jessica Moore. Two batters later, Beth Bennett hit her third home run of the year and Liberty's 11th of the weekend, sending a three-run homer well over the fence in left field to push Liberty's lead to 6-2.
The Lady Flames added an insurance run in the sixth inning as J'nae Jefferson led off the frame with a double off the wall down the left-field line and later scored on a wild pitch, giving Liberty its seventh and final run.
Rutgers was able to muster one more run in the top of the seventh inning as a bases-loaded walk forced in Brittany Loisel from third before Terra Lowe struck out Kristen Madoch to defuse the Scarlet Knights' potential rally and pick up her first save of the year.
Jeffs and Moore led the Lady Flames from the plate as the pair of seniors were each 3-for-4, extending both of their hitting streaks to nine-straight games.
Sarah Ellis upped her record to a team-best 4-1 as the sophomore allowed three runs, two of which were earned, on four hits and six strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings of work.
The Lady Flames will leave the continental United States for the first time in program history for their next several games as they participate in a pair of Spring Break tournaments hosted by Hawaii in Honolulu, Hawaii. Liberty opens tournament action at the Hawaii Spring Fling against Boston College (2 p.m.) and host Hawaii (6 p.m.) on Wednesday, local time.