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Delaware Downs Liberty to Open Pirate Clash
With the victory, Delaware moves to 2-0 on the early year, following a season-opening 1-0 eight-inning victory over UNC Greensboro to open the day. The loss drops Liberty season record to 1-3-1.
Both team threatened early in the game, getting runners in scoring position in the first inning with two out rallies.
Following a base hit to left and back-to-back walks, Liberty's Tiffani Smith was able to get Quinn Megarel to ground out to third and halt the threat for the Blue Hens.
However, Liberty made good on its two-out opportunity with three-consecutive hits. Shannon McKain started the run, legging out an infield single to third, followed by Ashley Williams' base hit through the left side of the infield.
Beth Bennett slapped one straight back up the middle for her team-leading fifth RBI of the season, driving in McKain to give Liberty the early 1-0 lead.
Delaware loaded the bases again in the second inning, and this time they cashed in to score twice and take the lead. Caitlin Smith led off the frame with a base hit to center, followed by walks issued to Cecile Egan and Katie Lee.
After getting a strikeout, Tiffani Smith was unable to handle a ball hit back to her in the circle by Allison Borchers, allowing Caitlin Smith to score. Two pitches later, Egan crossed the plate on a wild pitch, staking the Blue Hens to a 2-1 advantage.
The bottom half of Delaware's line-up came through again for the Blue Hens in the third, mounting another two-out rally. Following a walk to Caitlin Smith, Egan connected on a sharply hit ball off of Tiffani Smith's glove in the circle.
Lee got one through the left side of the infield to load the bases, and Liberty looked like it was going to get out of the inning, as Katie DeSalvo grounded to short. However, Amber DePasquale was unable to collect the grounder, allowing Caitlin Smith to score her second unearned run of the game and give the Blue Hens a two-run lead, 3-1.
Delaware added an insurance run in the top half of the seventh, as the trio of Caitlin Smith, Egan and Lee struck again. Smith got a two-out walk, followed by Egan's single to right. Lee then slapped one through the left side of the inning, plating Smith and extending the lead to three runs, 4-1.
Liberty attempted to mount a rally late in the contest, getting five runners on during the last three innings, but Pagano settled down to secure her first collegiate victory. The rookie finished the game by scattering eight hits over seven innings of work, fanning five batters.
Tiffani Smith suffered the loss for the Lady Flames, allowing three unearned runs on four hits, while surrendering six walks during three-plus innings of work to fall to 0-1 on the year.
Dana Wheeler came in to give Liberty her second strong outing of the year. Following a 12-strikeout victory over Kennesaw State last weekend, the lefty allowed just three hits over the last four innings of work, while fanning six batters and walking one.
Ovittore, Egan and Lee all finished the game batting 2-for-3, recording six of Delaware's seven hits. Bennett led Liberty with a perfect 3-for-3 outing at the plate, while Cassie Hendrix was 2-for-3.
The Lady Flames will close out action on the first day of the Pirate Clash against host East Carolina, later this evening, following the conclusion of the East Carolina vs. Radford contest. Liberty will make the move back to ECU Softball Field for their nightcap.