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Lady Flames' Run Against Nationally-Ranked Foes Draws Top 25 Vote
Link To ESPN.com/USA Softball Poll (as of March 27, 2007)
The Liberty University softball team's run against some of the best teams in the country has drawn national attention, as the Lady Flames received the program's first-ever vote in the latest ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25 poll released earlier today.
Liberty (15-14) was one of 12 teams to also received consideration for this week's Top 25, tying for 34th place along with Creighton, Cal State Fullerton and Penn State, as the quartet of teams each received a single vote in the latest poll.
For the seventh-consecutive week, Tennessee maintained the top spot in the poll as the Lady Vols pushed their season-to-date record to 35-2 after a pair of victories over Liberty, 5-1 and 4-0, last night at Tyson Park in Knoxville, Tenn.
Three-time All-American Monica Abbott picked up both victories on the evening, fanning a combined 25 batters in the twinbill. With the combined 25 strikeouts, Abbott surpassed the 2,100 career strikeout mark, moving her within 153 strikeouts of becoming the NCAA's all-time career leader in the statistical category. Texas hurler Cat Osterman is the current NCAA all-time leader with 2,265 career Ks.
Ashley Williams was responsible for the Lady Flames' lone run on the evening, as the junior hit a solo home run to left field in the second inning of the first game. The run marked just the ninth Abbott has allowed this season in 180 innings of work.
The twinbill against the Lady Vols brought to a close the most grueling stretch of games in program history as 10 out of Liberty's last 14 contests have come against nationally-ranked opponents. The Lady Flames posted a 6-8 record during the stretch, including wins over No. 6/9 Michigan, No. 10/14 Baylor and No. 23 Hawaii.
The Lady Flames softball team will take to the friendly confines of the Liberty Softball Field for the first time this year when Liberty hosts Norfolk State for a non-conference doubleheader on Wednesday. First pitch of the afternoon is set for 2 p.m.
Wednesday afternoon's contests with Norfolk State will mark the fifth and sixth time the Lady Flames and the Spartans have met on the softball diamond. Liberty holds a perfect 4-0 series against Norfolk State, including a doubleheader sweep (7-4 and 7-3) last year in Norfolk, Va.
Lady Flames' Softball Game Notes:
Lady Flames Pick Up Big Time Wins
Liberty posted its third win over a nationally-ranked opponent this weekend when the Lady Flames shut out No. 6/9 Michigan, 2-0, at the Women4Women Softball Invitational. Liberty also knocked off No. 10/14 Baylor (4-0) and No. 23 Hawaii (4-3) this year, both at the Bank of Hawaii Invitational in Honolulu, Hawaii. Liberty has now defeated six ranked opponents over the last three seasons.
Win Over Wolverines Ranks Among Best
Liberty's win over No. 6/9 Michigan last Saturday marked the highest-ranked opponent Liberty has ever defeated in softball program history and the third-highest in athletic department history. The baseball program knocked No. 3 Wake Forest in 2002 and the men's soccer team downed No. 5 Wake Forest in 2000.
Big South Honorees
Ashley Williams became the third Lady Flame this year to be honored by the Big South Conference as the junior was named Big South Player of the Week on Monday. Williams batted .462 (6-for-13) last weekend, with four doubles and five RBI at the Women4Women Softball Invitational, hosted by Louisville. Liberty's other league honorees this year include Sarah Swor, who was named Player of the Week on Feb. 20 and Terra Lowe, who was named Pitcher of the Week on March 19.
Happy To Be Home
After playing their first 29 games away from Liberty's campus, the Lady Flames softball team opens its 2007 home schedule tomorrow with a doubleheader against Norfolk State. The Lady Flames have posted a 15-6 record in their previous home openers, including a 10-3 mark since moving to the Division I level in 1994. Last year, Liberty finished the season 15-7 at the Liberty Softball Field, marking the program's second-highest home win total in a season.
Lady Flames Tangle With No. 1 Tennessee
Liberty continued its run against the country's top-ranked teams as the Lady Flames squared off against the nation's best squad in No. 1 Tennessee for a non-conference doubleheader, yesterday in Knoxville, Tenn. This marked the second time in program history the softball team has faced the nation's top-ranked team as Liberty squared off against No. 1 UCLA in the opening game of the 2002 NCAA Regionals, falling 3-0 to the Bruins in Liberty's first-ever NCAA Tournament game.
Moore Moves Up Career List
Jessica Moore moved into second place on the Lady Flames' all-time hit list this past weekend as the senior now has 190 career hits (in just three years). Moore needs 36 hits during the remainder of this year to become the school's all-time career hits leader, moving past Stacy Radulovich, who finished her career with 224 hits (1996-99).
Swor On Verge Of Lady Flames Record
Senior pitcher Sarah Swor entered the week needing just five more strikeouts to become Liberty's all-time strikeout leader, as the hurler has 441 Ks to her credit. Ali Thompson (2000-02) finished her Liberty career with 446 strikeouts.
Hensley's Streak Comes To An End
In the second inning of game two against No. 1 Tennessee last night, Beth Hensley, who finished the game batting 2-for-3, was thrown out attempting to steal second base. The caught stealing snapped a streak for the senior as Hensley had successfully swiped 20-straights bases over the last three-plus years. The only other time in Hensley's career she has been caught stealing was against Wright State on Feb. 22, 2004, the eighth game of the outfielder's career. Hensley is now 21-of-23 in stolen base attempts over 187 career games.