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Four-Run Fourth Gives Liberty Afternoon Sweep
With the second victory on the afternoon, Liberty ups its record to 11-34-1 on the season and picks up its second doubleheader sweep of the year. The loss drops Norfolk State's record to 16-26, marking the Spartans fourth-straight setback.
The Spartans broke a 23-inning scoreless streak in the bottom of the second inning, plating the game's first run on three singles.
Jeannette Sauceda opened the inning with a single up the middle. Following a base hit to left center by Jacklyn Peaton, Sauceda scored on the Spartans second base hit up the middle, when Ashley Archer plated the first baseman to give Norfolk State the early 1-0 lead.
The homestanding Spartans added to their lead in the bottom of the third inning with one swing of the bat. Ellis retired the first two batters of the inning, but couldn't get Rebecca Barnes. The third baseman clocked her fifth home run of the year, this one to left, tying her for team-high honors in round trippers and giving Norfolk State a two-run lead, 2-0.
But the lead was short lived, as Liberty batted around during the top of the fourth to jump out to a 4-2 lead. Beth Bennett opened the inning with a single up the middle.
Ashley Williams followed, collecting her 46th career double, while a single to right field off the bat of Shannon McKain plated Bennett and Williams.
Following a walk issued to Leah Cossentino, Keely McMillon tried to move both base runners into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt. But starting pitcher Micki Rodriguez's throw to first was errant, allowing McKain and Cossentino to cross the plate on the costly miscue.
Norfolk State trimmed Liberty's two-run lead in half during the bottom of the fourth inning, starting with an infield single by Peaton.
Ellis struggled with her control during the next part of the inning, walking Archer and issuing two wild pitches, with the second allowing Peaton to score and cutting the lead to 4-3.
But the junior settled down, retiring nine out of the last 11 batters to secure the complete-game victory. Ellis allowed three runs on seven hits to up her record to 4-18, while walking one and striking out seven batters.
Rodriguez suffered the loss to fall to 6-12 on the season, as the righty was roughed up for four runs on six hits, over seven innings of work.
Liberty had six different players record the team's six hits. McKain was 1-for-3 with two RBIs, rounding out the top five hitters in the Lady Flames' line-up to record a hit. Williams followed by going 1-for-4 with a run scored, while the double in the four-run fourth moved her one away from Shannon Tanski's school record of 47 doubles.
Norfolk State outhit Liberty in the contest, 8-6, and was led by Barnes and Peaton, who were both 2-for-3 from the dish.
The Lady Flames will conclude their tour of the Commonwealth tomorrow, wrapping up an 11-game stretch against in-state opponents with a non-conference doubleheader against Hampton. First pitch for the twinbill is slated for 11 a.m. at Lady Pirates Field in Hampton, Va.