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Fridey's Game-Winning Single in the Seventh Gives Liberty Blue Ridge Thunder Championship
Earlier in the day, the Lady Flames downed Georgetown, 10-2, enabling Liberty to post a perfect 4-0 record as the host of the two-day tournament.
Due to rain during the later part of the morning, the 11 a.m. between Georgetown and Hampton and the 1 p.m. game against Liberty and Hampton was cancelled. Liberty's final game against Hampton at 3 p.m. served as the championship game, pitting the top two records in the tournament in the title game.
With the pair of victories on the day, the Lady Flames raise their record to 21-14. The win over Georgetown gave the Lady Flames' the 20th win of the season, marking the third-straight year and the 10th time since making the move to the Division I level Liberty has surpassed the 20-win plateau.
Liberty once again took the early lead as Shannon McKain homered in her second straight at bat as the junior gave the Lady Flames a 1-0 lead with a solo home run in the bottom of the first inning.
The Lady Flames tacked on an additional run in the bottom of the third inning as Liberty took advantage of a trio of Hampton mishaps.
J'nae Jefferson was issued a walk. Dawn Jeffs followed with a grounded ball to shortstop, but Evelyn Garcia wasn't able to make the play at second, allowing both runners to reach safely.
McKain followed with another ground ball, but this time first baseman Jada Jeffries wasn't able to handle the hot shot, loading the bases.
The third and final error of the inning came as catcher Jennifer Gonzalez tried to catch Jefferson leading off at third base, but her throw sailed down the left field line, allowing Jefferson to score the unearned run and push Liberty's lead to two runs, 2-0.
The score remained the same until the top of the fifth inning when Hampton used back-to-back hits and two Liberty mistakes to take a one-run lead, 3-2.
Garcia led off the frame with a walk. Two batters later, the Pirates mounded a two-out rally as Tesara Liggins singled to left field, followed by a two-RBI double by Brittany Davis to the gap in left-center field, scoring both Garcia and Liggins.
Liberty looked like they were going to get out of the inning as Jeffries grounded to shortstop, but Jefferson wasn't able to handle the ball, giving the Pirates runners at the corners. Starting pitcher Terra Lowe started with a wild pitch, allowing Davis to score and give Hampton the 3-2 advantage.
But the lead was short lived as Liberty was able to score on a base-loaded situation in the bottom of the fifth. Jeffs singled up the middle to start the inning. After a sacrifice bunt by McKain moved Jeffs to second, Jessica Moore was intentionally walked.
Ashley Williams singled to left to load the bases, followed by Beth Bennett grounding into a fielder's choice where both Moore and Williams were out on the play, but not before Jeffs could cross the plate and tie the game at 3-3.
For the second-straight inning and third time during the game, the Lady Flames loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh where Fridey was able to come up with the game-winning hit to secure the victory.
Jeffs led off the top of the seventh with a double to the gap in left center. Back-to-back intentional walks were issued to Moore and Williams. Hampton pitcher Amanda Black got Bennett to ground into a fielder's choice for the second out of the inning.
But she couldn't stop one of Liberty's hottest hitters on the weekend as Fridey, who entered the weekend just 1-for-7 on the year, got her eighth hit of the tournament as the designated player got a base hit to left, scoring Moore and ending the game. On the weekend, Fridey batted .727 from the plate as she was 8-for-11, with four runs scored, two doubles, two home runs and seven RBI.
Sarah Ellis picked up the win in relief of Lowe as Ellis pitched two innings of hitless ball, striking out two batters to move to 8-5 on the year. Lowe allowed three runs on five hits and striking out six in the no decision.
Offensively, Jeffs finished the game 2-for-4 with a run scored, while McKain was 1-for-2 with a RBI and Fridey was 1-for-3 with a RBI.
The Lady Flames return to action on Wednesday when they travel to Harrisonburg, Va., to take on James Madison in their final tune-up before opening conference action next weekend at Winthrop. First pitch of the doubleheader against the Dukes is scheduled for 2 p.m.