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Lady Flames Open Home Season with 1-0 Win

March 25, 2008
|  Lynchburg, Va.
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J'nae Jefferson clocked her first home run of the year to give Liberty its lone run during its game-one victory over UNC Greensboro.

J'nae Jefferson clocked her first home run of the year to give Liberty its lone run during its game-one victory over UNC Greensboro.

For the third-consecutive season and the 12th time under head coach Paul Wetmore, the Lady Flames opened the home portion of their schedule with a victory. Liberty downed visiting UNC Greensboro, 1-0, Tuesday afternoon, in game one of a non-conference doubleheader held at the Liberty Softball Field.

The victory was Liberty's second straight and ups the Lady Flames' mark on the year to 4-19-1. The win also pushed the Lady Flames' record to 12-3 in home openers at their on-campus facility.

The loss drops UNC Greensboro's record to 9-19 and marks the Spartans' ninth-straight setback and 12th loss during their last 13 games.

Liberty jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second, thanks to one swing of the bat. Sophomore J'nae Jefferson took a 2-2 offering from UNC Greensboro's Amber Harrell and sent it well over the left-field fence for her first home run of the year, staking the Lady Flames to the early advantage.

The remainder of the game was left in the hands of Dana Wheeler and Sarah Ellis, as the two hurlers went the distance by holding the Spartans bats in check for the victory.

Wheeler scattered four hits over six-plus innings of work, upping her record to 3-4 on the year by picking up her second-straight win. Ellis got three outs in the seventh for her first save of the year and the fifth of her career.

Harrell was the tough-luck loser for the Spartans, allowing one run on four hits during seven innings of work. The sophomore tallied five walks and fanned seven to fall to 6-10 on the season.

UNC Greensboro put together its first charge midway through the contest to try and put a dent in the scoreboard. The Spartans got three-consecutive single to open the fourth inning. However, Wheeler got two fielder's choice plays and one of her four strikeouts on the afternoon to halt the threat.

The Spartans attempted to mount one more charge during their final at bat. Wheeler walked Kaitlin Merkt to open the seventh inning, accounting for the hurler's third walk of the year in 61 innings of work.

Ellis was called in to close out the game. The junior righty got Whitney Miller out on a sacrifice bunt, followed by striking out pinch hitter Emily Akiyama. Pinch runner Laura Olenderski moved to third on a wild pitch, but Ellis left the game-tying run stranded 60 feet from home plate when she got Kristen Gabel swinging on an outside pitch.

Neither team mustered much offense during the game, with both squads recording four hits apiece. Leslie Furness led the Spartans by going 2-for-3 from the plate, while Whitney Sirois and Brittany Ausley were each 1-for-3.

Liberty evenly spaced out its four base hits. Jefferson officially finished the game 1-for-1 with the solo home run and a pair of walks. Beth Bennett was 1-for-2 pushing her hitting streak to five games, while Ashley Williams and Amber DePasquale were 1-for-3 from the dish.

Following a 20-minute break, the Lady Flames and the Spartans will return to action at the Liberty Softball Field when they play the second game of today's doubleheader.