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Radford Edges Liberty in Series Opener

April 19, 2008
|  Radford, Va.
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Ashley Williams became Liberty's all-time hits leaader when she clocked her 40th career home run, Saturday afternoon, against Radford.

Ashley Williams became Liberty's all-time hits leaader when she clocked her 40th career home run, Saturday afternoon, against Radford.

The Radford Highlanders stranded runners at third base with less than two outs in each of the first three innings, but a three spot in the fourth proved to be the difference in the game. The Liberty Lady Flames fall to their arch rivals, 4-1, in the first game of a Big South Conference doubleheader, Saturday afternoon, at the Dedmond Center Softball Field.

With the win, Radford moves to 33-13 and 5-2 in Big South play, while the loss drops Liberty to 9-32-1 overall and 3-4 in league play.

Radford had no worries getting base runners early on, but Liberty hurler Tiffani Smith was able to thwart any runs from crossing the plate.

In the bottom of the first, Ashley Carlson stole second and third base after drawing a walk. But the Highlanders' leadoff hitter was stranded after Smith struck out Jenn Everhart and Cassie Rhodes, while forcing Sarah Himan to foul out to Beth Bennett at first base to end the inning.

The Highlanders had a great opportunity to draw first blood in the bottom of the second inning, but Smith was able to fend off another threat. Vicki Madden led off the frame with a walk and was then was pulled in favor of pinch runner Larissa Williams.

Kristen Shifflett rocked Smith's offering into the right-center gap, placing runners on second and third with no outs. Hope Creasy then socked a hard-shot grounder to J'nae Jefferson at third base. The sophomore was able to hold the runners, and throw across the diamond for the first out. Shannon Keefe then hit a soft pop up to a charging Jefferson, who caught the ball, and was able to double Williams off at third base, ending the Highlanders threat.

Smith yielded a leadoff double to Ashley Taylor in the bottom of the third, but left the nine-hole hitter stranded on third base after getting the Highlanders to ground out twice to third base, and Himan to line out to Leah Cossentino at short.

For the fourth-straight inning Radford placed its leadoff hitter on first base, but this time they were able to plate run to start a three-run frame for the Highlanders.

Rhodes walked to start things and moved to second base on Shifflet's single to left. Rhodes scored on a Creasy single to left field, giving the Highlanders their first run of the ball game. Shifflet later scored on Shannon Keefe's sacrifice fly to center field. Creasy, who moved to third on the sacrifice fly, scored on a passed ball off the glove of Keely McMillon, capping the scoring rally.

Liberty bounced back in the top of the fifth inning when Ashley Williams put the Lady Flames on the scoreboard with her team-leading seventh home run of the season. The hit marked Williams' 40th home run of her career and 230th career hit, passing Jessica Moore for the most in program history. Williams' round tripper cut the Liberty deficit to two runs, 3-1.

Radford added an insurance run in the sixth inning when Madden clubbed her eighth home run of the season on a towering blast over the light pole in left-center field. With the run, Radford pushed its lead back to three runs, 4-1.

Ashley Taylor closed out the Liberty hitters in the seventh inning, striking out two of her seven batters of the game. With the win, Taylor upped her record to 21-8. Smith suffers the loss and falls to 2-10 on the season, dropping her first Big South start of the year.

Liberty's four hits were spread out as Amber DePasquale, McMillon, Williams and Shannon McKain all went 1-for-3 in the contest. Radford notched five hits, led by Shifflett's 2-for-3 game, while Madden and Creasy each went 1-for-3. Taylor added one hit in two plate appearances, helping her own pitching cause.

Following a 15-minute intermission, the Lady Flames and the Highlanders will return to the Dedmon Center Softball Field to play the second game of today's Big South doubleheader.