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Home Runs Abound As Lady Flames Drop Two To Winthrop In Regular-Season Finale
The Lady Flames won the home derby on the day as Liberty hit five of the nine balls that left the park, but Winthrop was victorious in the wins column at the end of the day as the Eagles swept Liberty in a key Big South softball doubleheader, 8-6 and 8-4, Tuesday afternoon, in both team's regular-seasons finales.
With the pair of losses, the Lady Flames finish the regular season with a 38-21 overall record and a 7-5 mark in Big South action. Liberty finishes the conference season tied with Birmingham-Southern for third place in the conference, but will receive the No. 3 seed in the upcoming tournament by virtue of the tiebreaker.
Winthrop improves to 30-28 overall on the year and 5-7 in league play. The Eagles will enter the upcoming Big South Softball Championship as the No. 5 seed and will face No. 4 seed Birmingham-Southern in Game 1 at 11 a.m. on Thursday at Radford.
In the first game, the contest remained scoreless until the top of the fourth inning as Winthrop exploded for five runs on five hits to take the lead. Hilary Peacock led off the frame with a single through the left side of the infield, while two batters later, Lindsey Merriman followed by drawing a walk.
Lauren Blaser gave the Eagles the lead with her second home run of the year with a three-run blast over the fence in left field, while Jenny Scrymgeour followed on the next at bat with a solo homer to straightaway center field.
Stephanie Turney kept things going with a single down the left field line, while two batters later, Lisa Kingsmore dropped a double into the gap in right center field to score Turney and give Winthrop a 5-0 lead.
The long ball continued to play a factor in the next inning as Laura Hill and Merriman connected on back-to-back single to left field, while Blaser connected on her second three-run homer of the game to center field to put the Eagles up 8-0.
In the bottom half of the frame, Rachel Love was struck by a pitch, while Jessica Moore got into the home run fest with her team-leading 17th home run of the season as the two-run homer to left field kept the game alive for the Lady Flames.
The score remained the same until the seventh inning as the Lady Flames mounted a last inning rally. Moore started the rally by drawing a walk, while Sarah Swor followed with a single to left field. Ashley Williams was walked to load the bases, while Beth Bennett lofted a ball to left field to allow Moore to score on the sacrifice fly.
Shannon McKain trimmed Winthrop's lead to two runs with her sixth home run of the season as her three-run blast to center field cut the lead to 8-6.
Jessica Leary kept the rally going as she lined a base hit off of Peacock's glove at first base, but relief pitcher Jacqueline Trottier got Lowe to chase a 3-2 pitch up and away to end the game and secure the victory for the Eagles.
Shahna Ashard picked up the victory to up her record to 17-8 on the season as she allowed six runs on six hits, while walking six and striking out four in 6 2/3 innings of action. Trottier faced the final two batters of the game to record her third save of the year.
Lowe suffered the loss to fall to 14-9 on the season as she allowed four runs on five hits in 4 1/3 innings of work, while relief pitcher Sarah Ellis allowed four runs on six hits in 2 2/3 innings of action.
Jeffs led the Lady Flames from the plate as she was 2-for-4, while Moore was 1-for-2 with two RBI and two runs scored and McKain was 1-for-4 with three RBI.
The Eagles jumped out to an early one run lead in the top of the first inning of the second contest as Winthrop capitalized on two Liberty errors. Leadoff hitter Tessa Thomas bunted back to Sarah Swor in the circle to start the game, but Swor's throw to first was wide to allow the center fielder to reach base.
After a sacrifice hit moved Thomas into scoring position, a bunt single to third by Stephanie Reid gave the Eagles two base runners. Peacock followed by grounding into a fielder's choice as Moore forced Reid out at second, but Bennett was not able to handle Moore's throw at first on the attempted double play which allowed Thomas to score.
Liberty tied the contest in the bottom half of the frame as Moore led off the inning with a solo home run down the left field line, tying her own school record for single season home runs set last year as she also recorded 18 round trippers in her first year with the program.
However, the Eagles broke things wide open in the top of the second inning as Winthrop plated four runs on five hits, highlighted by a two-RBI single to the gap in right center field by Reid, while Peacock followed in the next at bat with a two-RBI double to the same location to give the visitors a 5-1 lead.
Winthrop continued to add to its lead in the fourth inning with a two-out rally as Peacock doubled to the gap in left center field to drive in Thomas, while Laura Hill knocked Peacock in with a single to right center to push the Eagles advantage to 7-1.
Liberty cut into the lead in the bottom half of the frame as Sarah Swor led off the inning with a double down the left field line, while three batters later, Lowe connected on her fifth home run of the season as her two-run shot to left field trimmed Winthrop's lead to 7-3.
The Eagles added an insurance run in the top of the seventh inning as Merriman connected on a solo home run well over the scoreboard in center field, her fifth of the year, to give Winthrop a five-run cushion, 8-3.
Ashley Williams tried to keep the Lady Flames hopes alive for another seventh inning rally as the catcher belted a two-out solo home run to right center field, her 12th of the year, but Trottier was once again able to close out the game and secure the victory for Winthrop.
Julie Harvey picked up the victory to up her record to 11-14 on the season as she allowed three runs on seven hits in 3 2/3 innings of work, while Trottier finished off the final 3 1/3 innings by allowing one run on three hits.
Swor was roughed up for seven runs on nine hits in 3 2/3 innings of work, before Lowe finished off the final 3 1/3 innings of the game by allowing just an additional run on two hits.
Offensively, Jeffs, Swor and Williams all finished the game 2-for-4 from the plate, while Lowe drove in two RBI as she was 1-for-3 with a run scored on the two-run homer.
The Lady Flames will look to regroup and begin their quest for a Big South Conference title when the No. 3 seed Lady Flames take on No. 6 seed Texas A&M Corpus Christi in Game 3 of the 2006 Big South Softball Championship on Thursday. The game is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. at Dedmon Center Field in Radford, Va.
The winner of Game 3 will face the winner of Game 4, which features No. 2 seed Radford and No. 7 seed Charleston Southern, at 7 p.m. on Thursday, while the losers of Games 3 and 4 will face off against each other in an elimination game on Friday morning at 11 a.m.