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Lady Flames End Hawaii Swing With Shutout Victory Over No. 10/14 Baylor
With the victory, Liberty's second in three days over a nationally-ranked opponent, Liberty raises its record to 14-9 on the year. The game brings to a close Liberty's Spring Break trip with the Lady Flames posting a 10-6 record over the previous 14 days of play, including a 6-5 mark in the state of Hawaii.
The victory also gives Liberty a win over its highest-ranked opponent and marks the fifth time the Lady Flames have defeated a nationally-ranked team in program history. Liberty downed No. 25 Texas A&M in 2005, swept a doubleheader from No. 24 Virginia Tech in Blacksburg last year and downed host No. 23 Hawaii to open this tournament on Wednesday.
Liberty jumped out to a quick two-run lead in the bottom of the first inning as the Lady Flames plated two runs on back-to-back hits. J'nae Jefferson starting the scoring run for Liberty as the freshman doubled off the fence in left-center field, followed by Jessica Moore's team-leading seventh home run of the year. The opposite field shot over the fence in right field gave the Lady Flames a 2-0 lead after one.
The Lady Flames added to their lead in the bottom of the fifth inning as Liberty tacked on two additional runs on two hits and took advantage of an error in the outfield to take a four-run lead, 4-0.
Pinch hitter Courtney Johnson reached base on a fielder's choice play, followed by Dawn Jeffs drawing a walk two batters later. Jefferson got her second hit of the game with a single up the middle to load the bases, setting the stage for Moore again.
And the senior came through with her third base hit of the game, a sharply-hit ball that glanced off the glove of Brette Reagan at third base, driving in Johnson, while Tiffany Wesley wasn't able to handle the ball in the left which allowed Jeffs to score Liberty's fourth run.
But the Bears didn't go quietly in the top of the seventh as Baylor mounted a two-out rally in an attempt to get back into the game. A single by Ashley Monceaux was followed by back-to-back walks issued to Chelsi Lake and Reagan.
However, Sarah Ellis came in to relieve starter Terra Lowe and got the final out, securing the victory for Liberty. The Lady Flames finished the game by leaving 12 runners on base, including the bases loaded in the first, second and seventh innings.
Lowe was the victor in the game, for Liberty, raising her record to 5-2 as the senior scattered six hits in 6 2/3 innings of work, striking out a season-high seven batters and walking four. Ellis faced two batters in the seventh, walking one and getting the other to fly out to pick up her second save of the year.
Moore led the Lady Flames from the plate as the center fielder was a perfect 3-for-3 with three RBI and a run scored. Jefferson followed as the freshman was 2-for-3 with a run scored.
Liberty gave Baylor starting pitcher Brittany Turner her first loss of the year as the hurler fell to 2-1 after surrendering three runs on three hits in four innings of work. The loss for the team was just the eighth of the year as Baylor falls to 25-8 after the outcome.
The Lady Flames return to the mainland for their next tournament as Liberty will travel to Louisville, Ky., to participate in the Louisville Classic Friday – Sunday. Liberty will once again face a daunting line-up of opponents as the three-day event includes No. 7 Northwestern, No. 9 Michigan, No. 25 California and host Louisville.
Liberty opens the tournament against Louisville at 10:30 a.m. on Friday, followed by a 5 p.m. game against No. 25 California.