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Highlanders Hand Liberty Loss at Pirate Clash

March 2, 2008
|  Greenville, N.C.
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Beth Bennett got one of Liberty's two hits during Liberty's match-up with Radford on Sunday.

Beth Bennett got one of Liberty's two hits during Liberty's match-up with Radford on Sunday.

Liberty had a rare opportunity to see a conference foe before Big South play began, and Radford proved why they are one of the preseason favorites to win the title, claiming a 4-0 victory over Liberty, Sunday morning, at the ECU Softball Field.

The loss closes out Liberty's run at the Pirate Clash with a 0-5 mark, dropping Liberty's overall record to 1-7-1 on the year. With the victory in the 48th match-up between the arch rivals, Radford improves to 11-5 and advances to the finals of the Silver Bracket of the event.

The Highlanders broke a scoreless tie by plating three runs in the bottom of the third inning. Ashley Carlson started the frame with a bunt single down the third base line. Following Carlson swiping second base, Radford had runners on the corners when Jennifer Everhart singled up the middle.

Cassie Rhodes grounded to Beth Bennett at first, but the junior wasn't able to make the play and committed her first error of the year, allowing Carlson to score the game's first run.

Liberty got the next two batters to ground out, but both ground balls were deep enough to shortstop and second to allow Everhart and Rhodes to score, giving the Highlanders a 3-0 lead.

Radford added an insurance run in the bottom half of the fifth. Sarah Himan started the inning with a single up the middle. Following Himan's stolen base and a walk issued to Kristen Shifflet, Vicki Madden moved both runners into scoring position with a grounder back to the circle.

Hope Creasy gave the Highlanders their four-run advantage, lofting a ball to right field for a sacrifice fly, as the ball was deep enough for pinch runner Larrisa Williams to score from third.

The remainder of the game belonged to Big South Preseason Pitcher of the Year Ashley Taylor, as the senior allowed two hits and fanned 12 batters. With the victory, Taylor moves to 5-3 on the year and 6-2 overall during her career against the Lady Flames, striking out 63 in 46 total innings of work.

The loss for Liberty goes to Sarah Ellis, as the senior allowed four earned runs on six hits, walking and striking out four batters apiece during six innings of action, dropping her record to 0-3.

Everhart led the Highlanders offensively by going 2-for-4 from the plate with a run scored. Radford's remaining four hits were evenly scattered among four batters, with Carlson leading the way by going 1-for-4 with a run scored.

Liberty managed to scratch out two hits against the Big South's premier pitcher. Beth Bennett singled in the fourth for her team-leading 10th hit of the year to go 1-for-3 on the day, while Jenna Eatmon got her first collegiate hit by going 1-for-2.

The Lady Flames will return to the softball diamond on Tuesday when they host the Venezuelan National Softball team in a single-game exhibition contest. First pitch of the game is scheduled for 2 p.m., at the Liberty Softball Field.

Liberty will resume the remainder of its 2008 slate next weekend, when they open up their annual Spring Break trip at the Hatter Classic, hosted by Stetson in Deland, Fla. Liberty will face the host Hatters and future Big South Conference member Presbyterian Friday through Sunday at Patricia Wilson Field.