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Eagles Clinch Top Seed with Afternoon Sweep

April 25, 2008
|  Lynchburg, Va.
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Beth Bennett drove in Liberty's lone run during the second game against Winthrop, going 1-for-3 in the contest.

Beth Bennett drove in Liberty's lone run during the second game against Winthrop, going 1-for-3 in the contest.

Winthrop batted around the order in the fourth to break open a one-run game, clinching the No. 1 seed in the upcoming Big South Softball Championship with a 7-1 victory over Liberty, Friday afternoon, at the Liberty Softball Field.

With the afternoon sweep, Winthrop improves its record to 32-17 overall and 13-1 in Big South play, following its eighth-straight conference victory. The loss drops Liberty's overall record to 13-36-1 and to 3-8 in conference action.

After committing five errors in the opening game, miscues continued to plague the Lady Flames in the second contest, allowing Winthrop to jump out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning.

Consecutive singles by Lisa Kingsmore and Stephanie Reid, were followed by a long fly ball to center by Mallory Hogan. But for the second time on the day, Amber DePasquale wasn't able to bring in the potential out, and the ball dropped in to extend the inning.

Two batters later, Lenny Stoddart laced a double to the gap in left center, allowing Kingsmore and Reid to cross the plate and give the visitors the early advantage, 2-0.

Errors continued to abound in the third, but this time it cost the Eagles their first run allowed on the day. DePasquale opened the third by beating out an infield single, deep in the hole at shortstop.

Following DePasquale's fifth stolen base of the year, Pearl Coleshill wasn't able to handle a batted ball by Cassie Hendrix, giving Liberty runners at the corners.

Beth Bennett was able to squeeze in DePasquale from third with a successful sacrifice bunt, giving Liberty its first run of the day and trimming the Eagles' lead in half, 2-1.

But the one-run deficit was short-lived, as Winthrop batted around the order to plate five runs on five hits and take advantage of two additional fielding errors by Lberty.

The five-run frame was highlighted by a RBI single to left by Kingsmore to drive in Coleshill, who had reached on an infield single. Two batters later, Mallory Hogan clocked her Big South-leading 10th home run of the year, sending an outside pitch out of the park in right for a three-run round tripper.

The remainder of the game went quietly, as the two teams combined for five hits. Liberty threatened in the sixth, loading the bases before Cari Wooldridge got J'nae Jefferson to pop out to first base to halt the attempted rally.

Wooldridge was the victor in the game, scattering five hits over six innings of work. The sophomore walked two and fanned four to increase her record to 14-9 on the season. For the second-consecutive game, Izzy Trottier came in to close out the game for Winthrop in the seventh, with a walk and a strikeout to add to her record.

Sarah Ellis suffered the loss, allowing seven unearned runs on 12 hits during her 16th complete game of the year to fall to 5-19. The junior walked two and struck out one, while offering two wild pitches.

Winthrop pounded out 12 hits during the game, tying for the third-highest hit total by a Liberty opponent this season. Kingsmore was 3-for-4 for the second game to increase her Big South leading average to .465, scoring twice and knocking in another.

Reid and Stoddart finished the contest 2-for-4 each, while Hogan was 1-for-4 with three RBIs.
Liberty evenly spread out its five hits among five different players. Bennett drove in the lone runner and finished the game 1-for-3 from the dish.

Liberty and Winthrop will return to the Liberty Softball Field tomorrow at 1 p.m., to conclude the Big South weekend series. Prior to the first pitch, Liberty will honor Shannon McKain and Ashley Williams, as the contest will serve as the Lady Flames' senior day.