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Gardner-Webb Holds Off Lady Flames, 13-10
The visiting Gardner-Webb Runnin' Bulldogs posted a trio of three-run innings, and held off a late Liberty rally, downing the Lady Flames, 13-10, during the nightcap on Friday at Liberty Softball Field.
Gardner-Webb is now 13-19, including 3-11 in Big South play, following the doubleheader sweep today. Liberty's record stands at 6-36, 1-16 in conference action, after suffering its ninth loss in a row.
Four different Runnin' Bulldogs posted two hits apiece, with Samantha Meenaghan batting 2-for-3 with a home run, four RBIs and three runs scored. Jill Blank added a double and three RBIs, while Megan Champion hit a home run.
Katie Zavodny went 3-for-5 with a stolen base and two RBIs for the Lady Flames. Zavodny became just the second player in Big South history with 100 career stolen bases. Kassidy McCoy and Kelby Allen both homered, with Allen going deep for the second game in a row. Hanna Nichols, Blair Lawrence and Marybeth Sciolino all had two hits.
Ashley Rhyne (5-12) earned her second win of the day, pitching seven innings in relief. Rhyne allowed six runs on 10 hits, after starter Alyssa Gutierrez yielded four runs on three hits without recording an out.
Grace Nordan (1-4) drew the loss, giving up seven runs, five earned, on four hits in 2 2/3 innings of work. Alyssa DiMartino pitched the final 4 1/3 innings, yielding six runs (five earned) on eight hits while striking out three.
Gardner-Webb struck first, on a two-out RBI single by Megan Gibbons in the top of the first.
The Lady Flames quickly chased Gutierrez, with Megan Robinson hitting a two-run double and Allen following with a two-run blast to center, making it 4-0 with nobody out. Rhyne came in and got the final three outs.
The Runnin' Bulldogs tied the game, 4-4, when Meenaghan lined a three-run home run to right with two outs in the second inning.
McCoy drew a leadoff walk in the bottom of the second, and scored from third on a two-out RBI single by Lawrence, making it 5-4, Liberty.
The visitors regained their lead by plating three during the third frame. Gibbons doubled to lead off, and later scored on a wild pitch. Gardner-Webb then loaded the bases with one out. After bases-loaded walks to Meenaghan and Kellie Beres made it 7-5, DiMartino came on to get the third out.
Following a 1-2-3 Liberty third, Blank hit an RBI double in the top of the fourth, boosting the guests' lead to 8-5.
Liberty chipped away at the deficit in the fourth, with Han and Sciolino singling. Zavodny then hit a one-out RBI single, with Han and Sciolino scoring, setting the ledger at 8-6. The Lady Flames stranded a pair, as Robinson popped out and Allen grounded out.
Champion opened the sixth inning by homering to center, and Blank later singled to left, plating Gardner-Webb's 10th and 11th runs of the game.
Liberty got a run back during the bottom of the sixth, as Sciolino walked and stole second. Zavodny then singled, driving in Sciolino. Rhyne retired the next three batters, leaving the score at 11-8 through six.
Gardner-Webb added two insurance runs in the seventh, building its lead to 13-8.
The Lady Flames rallied with two outs in the bottom of the seventh, after Gardner-Webb turned a 6-4-3 double play. Han walked, and pinch hitter McCoy blasted a two-run shot to left, drawing Liberty to within 13-10. Sciolino followed with an infield single, before a Zavodny groundout brought the game to a close.
Liberty and Gardner-Webb will conclude this weekend's series with a 1 p.m. game, tomorrow at Liberty Softball Field. Prior to tomorrow's game, Liberty will honor its five seniors – Alyssa DiMartino, Grace Nordan, Marybeth Sciolino, Sammi Shivock and Katie Zavodny, with a pregame senior day ceremony.