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Eleventh-Inning Double Gives LU First Game

April 2, 2008
|  Lynchburg, Va.
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Leah Cossentino's double to the gap in right gave Liberty a 5-4 victory in the 11th inning.

Leah Cossentino's double to the gap in right gave Liberty a 5-4 victory in the 11th inning.

Liberty finally cashed in on several scoring opportunities when Leah Cossentino slapped a two-out single to the gap in right in the 11th inning. The two-base hit scored the game-winning run in a 5-4 victory over James Madison, Wednesday afternoon, at the Liberty Softball Field.

With the victory, the Lady Flames raise their record on the year to 5-20-1 and pick up their third win in the last four games. The loss drops James Madison to 16-17 on the year.

The Dukes wasted little time taking a lead, as the visitors scored a first inning run, thanks in part to a pair of Liberty errors. Courtney Simons took second on a ball that was lost in the sun, falling into the right-center gap for a double.

Amber Kirk followed by grounding to short, but Cossentino's throw to third got by J'nae Jefferson, allowing both runners to remain on base. Starting pitcher Dana Wheeler got the next two batters to keep the ball in the infield; however, the second was misplayed by Cassie Hendrix, giving James Madison the game's first run.

James Madison added to its advantage in the fourth inning on a pair of singles. Lauren Mernin sent a shot down the third base line to open the frame.

Melissa Hill helped advance pinch runner Kendra Johnson to second with a sacrifice bunt, which proved beneficial when Brittney Dyson singled to left, driving in Johnson for a 2-0 Duke lead.

However, Liberty claimed the lead in consecutive swings of the bat during the bottom half of the inning. Hendrix started the frame with a single to left center, followed by Ashley Williams battling a lengthy at bat to clock her second home run of the year.

Williams' shot over the fence in left center was followed by a first-pitch solo home run to center field by Beth Bennett, giving Liberty a 3-2 lead.

The score remained the same until the top of sixth when Hill hit her first career home run, as the freshman sent a solo shot over the fence in left to chase Wheeler from the game and knot the score at 3-3.

Liberty had a chance to win the game in regulation, loading the bases with one out in the bottom of the seventh. Jefferson opened the inning with a single to left, followed Cossentino reaching base on a misplayed bunt attempt.

After Jessica Leary advanced both runners with a sacrifice bunt, Amber DePasquale was issued a one-out walk to give Liberty runners at every base.

However, starting pitcher Meredith Felts got Hendrix and Williams to groundout to end the threat and send the contest into extra innings.

Both teams plated their international tiebreaker rule runner in the eighth. Kaitlyn Wernsing crossed the plate on a ball hit by pinch hitter Katie Cochran, but misplayed by Cossentino at short.

In the bottom half of the frame, pinch runner Tiffani Smith moved to third on a two-strike bunt by Bennett, while later scoring on a two-out single deep in the hole to short by Keely McMillon.

Neither team mounted much of a charge in the ninth or 10th innings. In the final frame, the Dukes looked like they might get on the board, as Cochran stood on third with no outs, following a stolen base. But Moxey lined into a double play and Simons grounded out, keeping the scored tied at 3-3.

In the bottom of the 11th, back-to-back fielder's choice plays left Jefferson on first with two outs, where Cossentino slapped an opposite field double to gap, allowing Jefferson to score the game-ending run.

Williams and McMillon led the Lady Flames from the plate, as both players tallied multiple hits to pace Liberty's eight-hit attack. Williams was 2-for-4 with two RBIs and run scored on the two-run blast, while McMillon was 2-for-5 with a RBI.

The Dukes had three batters with multiple hits, led by Dyson who was 3-for-4 with a RBI. Wernsing (2-for-5) and Hill (2-for-4) rounded out the set for James Madison.

Sarah Ellis came in to toss six innings of effective relief, allowing just an unearned run on one hit, while walking three and fanning five to up her record to 2-11.

Wheeler saw her scoreless innings streak come to an end at 18 innings, as the sophomore allowed three runs on nine hits, while striking out two during the no decision.

Jenny Clohan suffered the loss, allowing two runs, both of which were unearned to fall to 5-6 on the year. Felts took the no decision for the Dukes, allowing Liberty's first three runs on six hits during her seven innings of work.

The Lady Flames and the Dukes will conclude today's doubleheader with the second game at the Liberty Softball Field, following a 20 minute intermission.