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Lady Flames Shut Out No. 6/9 Michigan at Women4Women Softball Invitational
With the win, the Lady Flames raise their season record to 15-11. The win marks the third nationally-ranked opponent Liberty has defeated this year (also No. 10/14 Baylor and No. 23 Hawaii) and the sixth in program history.
It also marks the third highest ranked opponent a Liberty athletics team has defeated in department history, falling only behind the baseball team's victory over No. 3 Wake Forest in 2002 and the men's soccer team's win over No. 5 Wake Forest in 2000. The baseball program also knocked off No. 6 Clemson in 2000, tying Liberty's effort against the Wolverines today.
The Lady Flames broke open a scoreless tie in the top of the sixth inning as Dawn Jeffs slapped a single to left. Two batters later, Jessica Moore doubled off the base of the fence in center field to put both runners in scoring position. Williams followed with a doubled into the right centerfield gap, driving in Jeffs and Moore to stake Liberty to a 2-0 lead.
Michigan, who has been to the College World Series eight out of the last 12 years including a national championship season in 2005, threatened numerous times during the contest as the Wolverines stranded 12 runners over the game's seven innings, including leaving the bases loaded in the fifth and seventh inning.
The Wolverines first serious threat came in the fifth as Michigan mounted a two-out rally with back-to-back hits by Alessandra Giampaolo and Molly Bausher, followed by a walk issued to Samantha Findlay.
Tiffany Worthy looked like she was going to give Michigan its first runs of the game as the catcher lined a shot to left field, but J'nae Jefferson made a leaping catch to snag the ball and keep the shutout in tack.
Michigan pressured the Lady Flames in its final at bat as well as Giampaolo led off the frame with a single, followed by Bausher reaching on a fielder's choice. Giampaolo was safe at second on the play.
After getting two outs, Liberty looked like it was going to finish off the game as Angela Findlay grounded back to Ellis in the circle, but the pitcher wasn't able to handle the hot shot, loading the bases for Michigan.
Teddi Eving then hit a hard grounder into the hole on the left side of the infield, but Jefferson was able to snag the ball and get the force out at third to secure Liberty's second shutout over a nationally-ranked team this year.
Ellis upped her record to 6-4 on the season as she scattered seven hits in the complete-game victory, walking two and striking out three. Nikki Nemitz picked up her second loss of the year as the hurler fell to 10-2 by allowing two runs on seven hits over 5 1/3 innings of work.
Liberty pounded out eight hits in the game with the first six batters in its line-up combining for the eight hits. Jeffs and Beth Bennett paced the Lady Flames as Jeffs was 2-for-4 with a run scored and Bennett was 2-for-3. Williams got the big hit in the sixth for Liberty and finished the game 1-for-3 with two RBI.
The Lady Flames will round out action at the Women4Women Softball Invitational when they face No. 7/8 Northwestern at 12:30 p.m., tomorrow afternoon. The contest will mark the first time Liberty and the Wildcats have met on the softball diamond and the seventh time Liberty has faced a nationally-ranked opponent this year.