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No. 7/8 Wildcats Shut Out Lady Flames at Women4Women Softball Invitational
Northwestern, fresh off an 11-1 five-inning victory over No. 25 California to start the day, continued to roll as the Wildcats jumped on the scoreboard early, scoring two runs on a single hit in the first.
Leadoff hitter Katie Logan was struck by a pitch, followed by Garland Cooper's team-leading 11th home run of the year, a two-run blast to left field, staking the Wildcats to an early 2-0 lead.
Northwestern, last year's College World Series runner-up to national champion Arizona, padded its lead in the bottom of the third, scoring a run on three-consecutive two-out hits.
Tammy Williams started the two-out rally with a double off the base of the wall in right field, followed by a single to right by Cooper with Jessica Leary's relay to the plate not in time to get the speedy Williams, giving Northwestern a 3-0 edge.
The Wildcats added three insurance runs in the bottom of the fifth inning, plating three runs on three hits. Williams started the frame by singling up the middle, followed by a walk issued to Cooper.
Both runners advanced a base thanks to a sacrifice bunt by Nicole Pauly. After getting a second out as Erin Dyer flew out to center, Jessica Dyer was issued the second walk of the inning.
Julia Sears took advantage of the base-loaded situation with a single to right field, driving in Williams and pinch runner Aly Euler. Kelly Dyer followed with the Wildcats' third single of the frame with a base knock up the middle, scoring Jessica Dyer to give Northwestern a 6-0 lead.
Liberty got the first out of the bottom of the sixth with a strikeout, but four-consecutive singles ended the game. Logan started the sixth-inning run with a single up the middle, followed by Williams' single to center.
Cooper loaded the bases with a sharply-hit single to right, followed by Pauly's base hit up the middle, driving in Logan and Williams to end the game.
Liberty managed to muster just three hits against freshman hurler Lauren Delaney who remained unbeaten on the year (12-0), striking out eight and walking two in the complete-game win.
Terra Lowe (5-4) suffered the loss as she allowed three runs on four hits, striking out five in 3 2/3 innings of work. Sarah Ellis finished off the final 1 2/3 innings of the game as the sophomore allowed five runs on seven hits.
Dawn Jeffs and Beth Bennett finished the game 1-for-3 and J'nae Jefferson was 1-for-2, accounting for Liberty's three hits.
The Lady Flames, who fall to 15-12 after today's loss, will conclude their whirlwind tour against some of the best teams in the country tomorrow when they face the nation's top-ranked team in No. 1 Tennessee for a non-conference doubleheader at Tyson Park in Knoxville, Tenn. First pitch for the twinbill is scheduled for 5 p.m. and both games will air live on 90.9 FM, the Flames Sports Network.
Eight out of Liberty's last 12 opponents have been ranked in the Top 25 with Liberty posting three victories in those contests, including wins over No. 6 Michigan (2-0), No. 10 Baylor (4-0) and No. 23 Hawaii (4-3).
The contest will mark the fifth-straight year Liberty and Tennessee have met on the softball diamond and the second time Liberty has ever squared off against the nation's top-ranked team. Liberty opened play at the 2002 NCAA Regionals against No. 1 UCLA, falling 3-0 to the Bruins in the Lady Flames' first-ever NCAA Tournament game in Columbia, S.C.