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Errors Cost Liberty in Loss to Wolfpack
With the victory, the Wolfpack improve their record to 6-7 on the season. The loss drops Liberty's mark to 1-2-1 following the Lady Flames first weekend of action during the 2008 season.
The game remained scoreless until the bottom of the third inning, as N.C. State jumped out to an early 1-0 lead following a fielding error, which allowed a run to score.
Shanna Smith led off the frame with her team-leading ninth walk of the season, followed by her team-high fourth stolen base. After advancing to third on a sacrifice bunt by Ashleigh Davis and a strikeout by Sarah Ellis, Liberty looked like they were going to get out of the inning.
However, Cassie Hendrix was unable to handle a grounded ball up the middle by Lacey Holm, allowing Smith to cross the plate and break the tie on the unearned run.
The Wolfpack tacked on an insurance run in the bottom of the fifth inning, capitalizing on another Liberty error, the Lady Flames' fourth of the contest. Smith led off the frame with a ground ball to second, which got by Hendrix, allowing Smith to reach on the misplayed ball.
Following a sacrifice bunt by Ashleigh Davis, Smith swiped her second base of the afternoon to get to third base. And N.C. State made good on the scoring opportunity, as Alyssa Allbritten lofted a ball to left field, deep enough to allow the speedy Smith to score on the sacrifice fly and give the Wolfpack a 2-0 edge.
The Lady Flames threatened in the top of the seventh inning, finally getting on the scoreboard. Beth Bennett battled a nine-pitch at bat to draw a walk. Elena Lampman took Bennett's place at first and the speedy pinch runner was able to score on a double to the gap by J'nae Jefferson.
But starting pitcher Mendy McKenzie halted the attempted rally with her sixth and final strikeout of the game, sealing her team-leading fourth victory of the year. The hurler finished the game by allowing one run on four hits during the complete-game victory.
After struggling during its first two games of the year, Liberty got its second-straight solid pitching performance, this one coming from Ellis. The junior scattered two hits over six innings of work, allowing the two unearned runs and fanning five batters to fall to 0-1 on the year.
Neither team found much offense at the plate, as the two squads combined for six total hits over seven innings. Hendrix led the Lady Flames, as the freshman was 2-for-3, while Shannon McKain was 1-for-3 and Jefferson was 1-for-3 with the RBI double.
Smith led the Wolfpack from the plate, as she was 1-for-3 with two runs scored, followed by Allbritten, who as 1-for-2 with a RBI.
The Lady Flames will return the softball diamond for the first doubleheader of the year on Wednesday, when Liberty travels to Knoxville, Tenn., to face Tennessee. The non-conference twinbill is scheduled to start at 5 p.m., against the nation's fifth-ranked team inside of the newly completely Sherri Parker Lee Softball Complex.