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Lady Flames Survive Thriller With Birmingham-Southern To Advance In Big South Softball Championship

May 13, 2006
|  Radford, Va.
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Lady Flames Survive Thriller With Birmingham-Southern To Advance In Big South Softball Championship
An RBI single up the middle by Jessica Moore in the bottom of the sixth inning proved to be the deciding run in one of the stranger games in tournament history as No. 3 Liberty staved off elimination with a 6-5 win over No. 4 Birmingham-Southern in Game 10 of the 2006 Big South Softball Championship presented Aéropostale, Friday evening, at Dedmon Center Field.

With the victory, the Lady Flames improve their overall record to 41-22 on the season, tying the school record for victories in a year as the 1999 team finished the season with a 41-25 record.

The Lady Flames jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning as Liberty mounted a two-out rally, starting with a walk by Beth Hensley followed by a two-run homer by Terra Lowe, her sixth of the year, to left field to give Liberty a two-run lead.

Birmingham-Southern tied the game in the top of the third inning as Kayla Backland led off the frame by drawing a walk. Two batters later, Backland moved to second on a ground out by Brooke Reed, while the center fielder scored on a base hit up the middle by Grace Stokes.

After Nikki Rombough was intentionally walked and Jennifer Wellborn loaded the bases with an infield single, Stokes scored and Rombough and Wellborn moved up on a wild pitch to tie the game at 2-2.

Melissa Taunton walked to continue the drama off the inning to load the bases, while Heather Fox homered to straightaway center field for a grand slam which should have given the Panthers a 6-2 lead.

However, the home run was negated because Rombough, who was on third base before the home run, forgot to touch home plate and was called out, which was the third out of the inning to end the strange frame.

The score remained the same until the fifth inning when Lowe started the inning with a walk, while two batters later, Moore connected on her third home run of the Championship and school record 21st of the season with a two-run opposite field homer.

Dawn Jeffs followed with a double high off the fence in right field, while Beth Bennett gave the Lady Flames a 5-2 lead with a RBI single down the left field line to plate Jeffs and push Liberty's lead to three runs.

The Panthers trimmed the lead to one run in the top of the sixth inning as Fox started the two-run inning with a walk, while Schmissrauter singled to right field, but the ball got past Jessica Leary for a two-base error that allowed Fox to score and Schmissrauter to move to third base.

Backland followed with a base hit to right field to score Schmissrauter and pull Birmingham-Southern to within a run, 5-4.

Liberty added an insurance run in the sixth inning as Hensley started the inning with a walk, while a ball hit by Leary up the middle was mishandled by Reed to give Liberty runners at the corners. And first-team all-conference selection Moore came through for the Lady Flames again with a RBI base hit up the middle to plate Hensley and give Liberty a 6-4 lead.

And the Lady Flames would certainly need the extra run as the Panthers mounted a final inning run. Wellborn reached base on a fielder's choice play, while Taunton followed with a base hit up the middle.

Pinch hitter Tifani Talbert lofted a fly ball to center field to allow Wellborn to score, while pinch runner Anne Lawrence tagged up as well to move to third base. But Sarah Swor was able to get Backland to ground to second to end the game and allow the Lady Flames to advance to tomorrow's action.

Lowe picked up the victory to up her record to 16-10 on the season as she allowed three runs on three hits in 5 1/3 innings of work, while Swor picked up her third save of year by allowing two runs on four hits in the final 1 2/3 innings of the contest.

Kristina Villavicencio suffered the loss and falls to 17-11 on the year as she allowed five runs on five hits in 4 1/3 innings of work, while Erin Haggard finished off the final 1 2/3 innings of action by allowing an unearned run on two hits.

Moore led the team from the plate as she was 2-for-4 for the game with a run scored and three RBI, while Bennett was 2-for-3 with a RBI single.

With the victory, the No. 3 seed Liberty advance to Game 11 of the 2006 Big South Softball Championship when they will face No. 2 seed Radford, who lost, 1-0, to No. 1 seed Coastal Carolina earlier this evening.

The winner of Game 11 will advance to the championship game when they will face No. 1 seed Coastal Carolina for the conference title and the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.