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Eighth-Inning Rally Falls Short in 4-3 Loss To Louisville
The host Cardinals broke a scoreless tie in the top of the fourth inning by scoring a run on three hits. Audrey Rendon led off the frame by singling to center field, followed by another single up the middle by Courtney Moore, two batters later.
Brooke McCrain lofted a ball to left field, but the ball got just beyond the reach of Beth Hensley, allowing Rendon to score from second and giving Louisville a 1-0 lead.
Liberty took advantage of a fielding error in the bottom of the fifth inning to tie the game at 1-1. Hensley grounded to second base, but Becca Saksefski was unable to handle the ball, allowing Hensley to reach safely.
Jeffs followed with a sharply-hit ball, which bounded off the glove of Moore at shortstop and into the gap in left center. Kristi Cunningham's attempted relay throw to the plate wasn't in time, allowing Hensley to score the unearned run and knot the game at 1-1.
The score remained the same until the eighth inning, as the Cardinals took the Lady Flames into their fourth extra-inning game of the season. After a sacrifice bunt moved Candi Hicks, who was placed at second as part of the international tiebreaker rule, to third, Melissa Roth singled through the right side of the infield, allowing Louisville to regain the lead, 2-1.
Moore then provided the Cardinals two insurance runs as the shortstop hit a two-run home run over the fence in left center field, plating Roth and pushing Louisville's advantage to 4-1.
And the Cardinals would need those insurance runs, as Liberty quickly cut into the lead in the bottom half of the frame. Jessica Moore led off the bottom of the eighth inning with her team-leading eighth homer of the year, connecting on a two-run shot well over the fence in straightaway center field, scoring J'nae Jefferson, who was Liberty's international tiebreaker runner at second.
The Lady Flames continued to pressure the Cardinals as Ashley Williams walked and a fielding error on a ground ball by Beth Bennett gave Liberty runners at the corners with no outs.
Relief pitcher Kristen Wadwell got Sarah Swor to strike out swinging, followed by a fielder's choice play where Williams was tagged out at the plate. Courtney Johnson was struck by a pitch to load the bases, but Wadwell got Hensley to fly out to center field, securing her first save of the year.
Kassie Stanfill picked up the victory, as the Louisville hurler allowed three runs, one of which was earned, on five hits, striking out nine and walking four in seven-plus innings of work to up her record to 7-3 on the year.
Terra Lowe suffered the loss as the senior allowed four runs, three of which were earned, on 10 hits, striking out five and walking one in 7 1/3 innings of action to fall to 5-3. Sarah Ellis got the last two outs of the eighth inning in relief of Lowe.
Jeffs and Moore led the Lady Flames from the plate, as the seniors were both 2-for-4 with Jeffs driving in one run and Moore scoring one and driving in two. Williams recorded Liberty's fifth hit of the game, as the catcher was 1-for-3.
The Lady Flames, who fell to 14-10 with today's loss, will face No. 25 California in a rematch of last week's Bank of Hawaii Invitational game later this evening at 7 p.m. Last week, the Bears knocked off Liberty, 1-0, in a pitcher's duel in Honolulu, Hawaii.