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Softball Season in Review
Following the conclusion of Liberty's 2014 softball season, Alan York of Liberty Flames Sports Network caught up with Lady Flames first-year head coach Dot Richardson for an interview.
A two-time Olympic Gold medalist, Richardson was named the fifth head coach in the history of the Lady Flames' softball program on July 19, 2013. Richardson helped Team USA win two Olympic Gold medals, along with Gold at five Pan American Games and four World Championships. Among her many honors, Richardson was named the 1980's NCAA Player of the Decade.
Facing a challenging schedule that included games against No. 20 Tulsa and defending national champion Oklahoma, the Lady Flames posted an 11-46 record, including 4-20 in Big South play.
The Lady Flames downed Norfolk State, 5-1, Feb. 15, as Richardson picked up her first career coaching victory. Liberty played its best softball down the stretch, averaging 7.6 runs per game while batting .345 as a team over the final five games of the season. The team picked up its first conference series victory on April 26-27 at Presbyterian College.
On April 24, the Lady Flames split a doubleheader with ETSU, serving as the last games played at Liberty Softball Field. Liberty went 206-178 all-time at its home facility, which opened in 1994. The Lady Flames' new softball stadium is slated to be ready for the 2015 season.
Liberty, the No. 9 seed, opened the 2014 Big South Softball Championship with an 8-5 win over No. 8 seed Gardner-Webb, keyed by a five-run sixth inning that included a two-out grand slam by Grace Nordan. Kelby Allen hit two homers against Gardner-Webb, giving her a team-best nine home runs on the season.
Richardson's squad blazed the basepaths this season, leading the Big South and ranking 24th nationally at present with 92 stolen bases, one shy of the program record of 93, set in 1996. Senior Katie Zavodny stole 32 bases this year, while sophomore Blair Lawrence recorded 20 stolen bases and senior Marybeth Sciolino added 10 steals.
Three Lady Flames were named to the 2014 Big South All-Conference Softball Team, in junior Megan Robinson (1st team - 2B), Zavodny (2nd team - OF) and junior Hanna Nichols (Honorable Mention - 1B). It marks Liberty's most all-conference honorees since placing six players on the 2011 Big South All-Conference Softball Team.
Robinson was voted to the Big South All-Academic Team for the second straight year, in addition to being voted to the Capital One Academic All-District III Team. She batted .303, while leading Liberty with 10 doubles, a .526 slugging percentage and nine multiple-RBI contests.
Zavodny earns her third straight all-conference award, becoming the sixth player in program history to be named a three-time All-Big South player. She hit .349 with team highs of 37 runs, 66 hits, 32 stolen bases and 83 total bases. She finished her career as Liberty's all-time stolen-base leader, and second in Big South history, with 111 career steals.
Nichols (.289) receives her first all-league honor, as she ranked third on the team with six doubles, four home runs, 18 RBIs and a .360 on-base percentage.
Five seniors (Alyssa DiMartino, Nordan, Sciolino, Sammi Shivock and Zavodny) have graduated. The Lady Flames will welcome a large freshman class, and look forward to the opening of their new stadium in 2015, poised for further success.