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Wheeler and McKain lead Liberty to Victory
Liberty opened and closed its annual Spring Break trip with victories, but lost 13-consecutive games in between, setting a new program record for consecutive losses. The victory earns Liberty a split on the day with St. Louis and raises Liberty's record to 3-19-1, while the loss drops the Billikens' record to 7-13.
The Lady Flames jumped out to an early lead in the top of the second inning, as Liberty mounted a two-out rally. Leah Cossentino got the inning going by beating out an infield single up the middle.
Keely McMillon followed by dropping a single into right center, while Jenna Eatmon got Liberty's third-straight hit with a single down the right-field line to drive in Cossentino and give Liberty a 1-0 edge.
The Lady Flames added to their lead in the top of the third to take a 3-0 lead. Cassie Hendrix started the inning by legging out an infield single to shortstop and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by J'nae Jefferson.
But the sacrificial hit proved to be a moot point, as Shannon McKain followed Jefferson's bunt with her team-leading third home run of the year. The senior belted a two-run blast well over the fence in left to stake Liberty to the three-run advantage.
The remainder of the game was left in the hands of Wheeler, who scattered five hits over seven innings of work to up her record to 2-4 on the year. The lefty fanned 10 batters, her second-highest strikeout total of the year, while tossing her third complete game of the year.
St. Louis threatened to keep Wheeler from picking up her second shutout victory of the year, loading the bases in the fifth. But the sophomore fanned Allison Hopke to keep the Billikens from getting on the scoreboard.
Stacy Gillette suffered the loss for St. Louis, falling to 1-5 on the year, as she allowed three runs on eight hits during the first five innings of work. Erin Kelly came in to finish the last two innings where she didn't allow a hit, while walking one and striking out three.
For the third-consecutive game, Liberty's bats came alive, this time producing three runs on eight hits.
Yesterday, the Lady Flames collected seven hits without plating a run against Dartmouth, while Liberty set a new season high with nine hits early in the day against the Billikens to no avail in 1-0 game-one loss.
Beth Bennett pushed her hitting streak to four-straight games, leading Liberty from the plate by going 2-for-3, while Hendrix also extended her hitting streak to four games with a 1-for-4 outing at the plate.
McKain was 1-for-3 during her trio of plate appearances, clocking the two-run blast in the third inning to give Liberty all the cushion it would need for the victory.
The Lady Flames will have the next eight days off before they open the home portion of their 2008 schedule when James Madison comes into town on March 25. Opening pitch of the non-conference doubleheader is scheduled for 2 p.m. at the Liberty Softball Field.