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Lady Flames Sweep 24th-Ranked Hokies In Softball Doubleheader

May 4, 2006
|  Blacksburg, Va.
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Lady Flames Sweep 24th-Ranked Hokies In Softball Doubleheader
Home runs by Sarah Swor and Ashley Williams led the Lady Flames to an opening 6-5 win, while a solid pitching performance from Swor guided Liberty to a 3-0 second game win over 24th-ranked Virginia Tech, Thursday afternoon, at Tech Softball Park.
With the doubleheader sweep, Liberty improves its record to 38-18 on the season, marking the second most victories in a season for the softball team and leaves Liberty just three wins short of the 1999 squad who won a school record 41 games.
      The pair of victories also marks the program's second and third victories over a nationally-ranked program. Liberty picked up it's first-ever win over a ranked program last year when the Lady Flames downed 25th-ranked Texas A&M Corpus Christ in a 2-1 eight inning win on March 15th.
      In the first game, the Lady Flames jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the second inning as Shannon McKain was struck by a pitch to reach first. Sarah Swor followed by connecting on her fifth home run of the season as the shot high off the fair pole in left gave Liberty an early two-run edge.
      The Hokies cut the lead in half in the bottom of the second as Kelsey Hoffman led off the frame with a double over the head of Beth Hensley in left field, while Beth Walker traded places with the catcher with a RBI double to the gap in left center to pull Virginia Tech to within one run, 2-1.
      The score remained the same until the fifth inning when Liberty added three more runs to the scoreboard with one swing of the bat. Jessica Leary led off the inning with a double to the gap in right center field, while Beth Bennett drew a two out walk later to get the inning alive.
      And Ashley Williams made the most of the extra opportunity as the catcher connected on her 11th home run of the season, sending a shot well over the fence in left field to drive in three runs and give Liberty a 5-1 advantage.
      The Hokies plated a run in the bottom of the fifth inning as Callie Rhodes led off the inning with an infield single. After advancing to second on her team-leading 30th stolen base of the year and to third on a pass ball, Rhodes scored an unearned run on a RBI single to center field off the bat of Erin Ota to cut Liberty's lead to 5-2.
      The Lady Flames plated an insurance run in the top of the seventh inning as Dawn Jeffs reached base on a fielder's choice play. Beth Bennett followed with a single through the left side of the infield, while Williams slapped one up the middle to plate Jeffs on the RBI single to give Liberty a four-run lead.
      And the Lady Flames would need all the runs they had as the Hokies mounted a serious seventh inning rally with three runs on three hits. Rhodes started the inning by drawing a walk, while Kelly Brown followed two batters later with a single to left field.
      Charisse Mariconda kept things alive with a single back up the middle to drive in Rhodes, while Hoffman followed two batters later with a two-out base hit to right field to drive in Brown and Mariconda and pull the Hokies within one run, 6-5.
      However, relief pitcher Terra Lowe was able to get Beth Walker to strikeout to secure the victory. Lowe picked up her second save of the season as she tossed three innings of relief work by allowing three runs on four hits and striking out two. Sarah Ellis upped her record to 9-1 on the season as she allowed two runs, just one earned, on six hits in four innings of work.
      Katie Maynard suffered the loss and falls to 13-10 on the season as she was roughed up for six runs on nine hits, while fanning five and walking three in a complete-game effort.
      Williams paced the way for Liberty offensively as she was 2-for-4 with four RBI and a homer, while Swor and Hensley were each 2-for-3 with Swor driving in two runs.
      The Lady Flames kept the momentum of game one going in the top of the first inning of the second game as Jessica Moore led off the game with a double to left field. After moving to second base on a sacrifice bunt by Jeffs, Bennett sent a shot down to third base that was misplayed by Mariconda to allow Moore to score and give Liberty a 1-0 edge.
      Liberty added to its lead in the second inning as Lowe lined a base hit off of Karie Morrison in the pitcher's circle. Two batters later, Moore doubled down the left field line in her second-straight at bat to plate Lowe, while Jeffs traded places with her with a RBI double down the left field line as well to drive in Moore and give the Lady Flames a 3-0 lead.
      And the three runs would be all that Liberty would need as Swor recorded one of her better pitching performances of the year by scattering five hits over seven innings of work. The complete-game victory upped Swor's record to 15-9 on the season and marked her third shutout of the season.
      Morrison drops to 0-1 on the year as she allowed three runs on four hits in two-plus innings of work, while Angela Tincher finished off the final four innings in effective relief by striking out nine batters and allowing no hits.
      Moore led the Lady Flames from the plate as she was 2-for-4 with two runs scored, while Jeffs was 1-for-3 with a RBI and Lowe was 1-for-2 with a run scored.
            The Lady Flames will conclude their regular season schedule over the next few days as Liberty returns to Big South Conference action for its next three games. The Lady Flames travel back to Conway, S.C. to make up the second game of the doubleheader against Coastal Carolina on Saturday at 1 p.m., while Liberty will host Winthrop for a league twinbill on Monday starting at 3 p.m.