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Liberty Softball Takes Unbeaten Record into Prestigious Mary Nutter Classic
Complete Game Notes
The Liberty softball team, off to a 5-0 start for the first time since 2006, makes its first trip to California since 2009, competing in the prestigious Mary Nutter Classic from Friday through Sunday. Liberty's schedule this weekend in Cathedral City, Calif., features six games, including matchups with No. 9/9 Oregon on Saturday, and No. 6/8 UCLA on Sunday.
Liberty has faced Loyola Marymount, UC Davis and UCLA in program history, going a combined 0-5 against those teams.
Lady Flames at a Glance
Liberty posted a dominant 5-0 showing at the Dot Richardson Invitational in Clermont, Fla., to open the 2017 season. The Lady Flames outscored opponents, 47-6, hitting .460 as a team, while also posting a 0.97 ERA.
Freshman shortstop Amber Bishop was named Big South Player of the Week on Monday, after batting .625 with nine RBI in Florida. Bishop's twin sister, Autumn, hit .500 with 10 runs scored last weekend. Jasmeen Click and Emily Sweat both batted .500, while Sarah Robertson (.444) scored six runs and drove in seven. 2015 Big South Freshman of the Year Alexia Taylor has hit 4-for-7 (.571) so far.
In the circle, freshman Elizabeth Engler was named Big South Pitcher of the Week after going 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA on the weekend. Opening-game starter Kenzie Friesen also sports a 0.00 ERA, while Chase Cassady (0.84 ERA) is 2-0 with one shutout.
How to Follow the Lady Flames
FloSoftball will be live streaming all games at the Mary Nutter Classic, which can be viewed for a subscription cost. Live stats will be available for select games this weekend.
- Liberty is 5-0, with a 6-0 start to the 1996 season as the best start in program history.
- Liberty is making its third-ever trip to California, and first since 2009.
- Liberty Head Coach Dot Richardson will be coaching against her alma mater, UCLA.
- Liberty Softball Stadium was voted sixth-best softball stadium by FloSoftball.com.
- The Lady Flames tied a program record with three triples against Morgan State, Sunday.
- Liberty has run-ruled four straight opponents for the first time in program history.
- The Lady Flames' .548 on-base percentage leads NCAA Division I.
- All of Liberty's regular starters are batting .333 or better so far this season.
- Liberty earned both Big South Player and Pitcher of the Week honors this week.
- A record seven Lady Flames hail from California, marking the first time that California has been the most represented state on the Liberty softball roster.
Liberty's All-Time Record vs.
Loyola Marymount: 0-2 (LMU 2-1, LMU 6-0; March 16, 1999 - Los Angeles, Calif.)
UC Davis: 0-1 (UC Davis 5, Liberty 0; Feb. 7, 2009 - Palm Springs, Calif.)
Oregon: First meeting
Saint Mary's: First meeting
Cal Poly: First meeting
UCLA: 0-1 (No. 1 UCLA 3, Liberty 0; May 16, 2002 - NCAA Regional - Columbia, S.C.)
Top 25 Challenge
The Liberty softball team has competed against top 25 teams 53 times in program history, posting a 6-47 record versus nationally-ranked opponents.
Liberty went 0-4 against ranked opponents last year, falling to then No. 17/17 UCF (Feb. 11), No. 5/5 Alabama (Feb. 14), No. 21/21 Baylor (Feb. 19) and No. 5/6 LSU (March 5).
Liberty has six games on its 2017 schedule against teams that were ranked in the top 15 of both national preseason polls (NFCA and USA Softball).
In 2007, Liberty knocked off No. 23 Hawai'i, No. 10 Baylor and No. 6 Michigan. The Lady Flames' 2-0 win over No. 6 Michigan, March 24, 2007, marks the highest-ranked team that Liberty has beaten in softball, and the team's most recent victory over a nationally-ranked team.
Fourth-year Head Coach Dot Richardson was a legendary shortstop for UCLA from 1981-83, helping the Bruins win their first NCAA softball title in 1982. She was named the NCAA Softball Player of the 1980's, before later winning two Olympic Gold Medals in 1996 and 2000.
Richardson was a teammate of current UCLA assistant coach Lisa Fernandez on Team USA for both the 1996 and 2000 Olympics. Richardson and Fernandez have both been inducted into the UCLA Athletics and ASA/USA Softball National Halls of Fame.
The Lady Flames made their first-ever NCAA Regional Appearance in 2002, meeting then-No. 1 UCLA in the first round. The top-seeded Bruins broke a scoreless tie in the fifth inning, on the way to a 3-0 win, a game played in Columbia., S.C.
Lady Flames in California
This will be the third trip to California all-time for the Liberty softball team, and first since 2009, when the Lady Flames opened the season at the Cathedral City Kick-Off. Five out of Liberty's 12 games played in California have been against ranked opponents.
Liberty has two all-time wins over California schools, defeating Pacific March 9-10, 2007 in Honolulu, Hawai'i.
A program-record seven Lady Flames hail from California this season. This also marks the first time in program history that California has been the most-represented state on the roster.
Bishop, Engler Earn Big South Weekly Honors
Freshman Amber Bishop was named Big South Player of the Week on Monday, while freshman Elizabeth Engler was named Big South Pitcher of the Week. It marked the first time since May 10, 2010, that Liberty earned both awards in the same week.
Bishop had a monster weekend in Florida, batting .625 with a .938 slugging percentage, two doubles, one homer and nine RBI. She hit her first career homer against Morgan State on Sunday, while also posting a pair fo three-RBI games on the week.
Engler went 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA, striking out seven batters in 10 innings. She won in each of her first two collegiate appearances, including a complete-game victory over Morgan State. She is the first Lady Flame since Katie Phillips (1996) to win in each of her first two appearances.
Triple the Fun
Liberty tied a program record with three triples in a 9-1 win over Morgan State, Sunday, as Autumn Bishop roped two triples and Jaclyn Amader also tripled. Bishop's two triples tie a program single-game record, last set by Ashley Bensinger against Charleston Southern, April 9, 2011.
Start it Up
Kenzie Friesen pitched five shutout innings in the season opener against Chattanooga, helping Liberty win its first game of the season for the first time since 2007.
Also in that game, Amber Bishop hit a double in her first collegiate at bat, while fellow freshman Kayla Harris singled in her first at bat. They are the first two Lady Flames since Kelby Allen in 2012 to record a hit in their first collegiate at bat.
Round and Round We Go
The Lady Flames have averaged nearly 10 runs per game, and the Bishop twins, Amber and Autumn, have been key catalysts to the offensive explosion. Autumn Bishop has averaged a nation-leading two runs scored per game, while Amber Bishop has averaged 1.8 RBI per contest.
Sarah Robertson (seven RBI), Emily Sweat (six), Autumn Bishop (five) and Alexia Taylor (three) all average at least one RBI per game played.
Shutting the Door
Julia DiMartino, a 2016 Big South All-Conference first team selection as a freshman, earned her first career save with two innings in the season opener against Chattanooga.
The pitching staff has posted a 0.97 ERA, led by matching 0.00 showings from Elizabeth Engler (2-0) and Kenzie Friesen (1-0) and a 0.84 from Chase Cassady (2-0).
Cassady pitched her second career shutout on Friday against Fairleigh Dickinson, and she averages 7.8 strikeouts per seven innings.
Liberty has defeated each of its last four opponents via run-rule margins, the first time that has happened in program history. On Sunday, with a 9-1 win over Morgan State, the Lady Flames came up one run shy of scoring double-figures in four straight games.
Blazing the Basepaths
In their first three years under the direction of Head Coach Dot Richardson, the Lady Flames averaged 85 stolen bases per year. So far this year, Liberty has averaged 3.6 steals per game, good for fifth in NCAA Division I.
Jasmeen Click leads the way with four stolen bases, as 11 Lady Flames have stolen at least one base. Interestingly, junior Tori Zavodny has not stolen a base yet this year.
Zavodny, a two-time all-conference selection led the team in stolen bases each of the last two years. Her 53 career steals rank sixth in program history, one shy of fifth place. Zavodny has started each of the last three season openers, once in each outfield position.
After one weekend, Liberty led NCAA Division I with a .548 on-base percentage, while also ranking third in runs per game (9.40), fourth in batting average (.460), and seventh in slugging percentage (.643).