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Highlanders Down Lady Flames To Advance To Title Game At Big South Softball Championship
No. 2 seed Radford plated four runs in the third and three more in the sixth, while Big South Pitcher of the Year Ashley Taylor settled down to lead the Highlanders to a 7-2 victory over No. 3 seed Liberty in Game 11 of the 2006 Big South Softball Championship presented Aéropostale, Saturday morning, at Dedmon Center Field.
With the loss, the Lady Flames finish the season with a 41-23 overall record, which ties the school record for wins in a season as the 1999 squad finished the year with a 41-25 record.
The Lady Flames jumped out on top quickly as Liberty plated two runs on two hits in the top of the first inning. First-team all-conference honoree Dawn Jeffs started things by reaching first on a fielder's choice play.
Beth Bennett followed by drawing a walk, while Ashley Williams doubled off the bottom of the fence in left field to plate Jeffs and give the catcher her 61st RBI of the season to set a new school record as she surpasses the previous record of 60 set by Meredith Hollyfield in 2000.
Two batters later, Shannon McKain was issued the third walk of the inning to load the bases again. Beth Hensley singled to straightaway center field to drive in Bennett from third, while Williams was thrown out at the plate on the play as she rounded third and slipped on the play and was tagged out for the final out of the inning.
Radford was able to get its offense going in the third inning as the Highlanders got three hits and plated four unearned runs as a costly error for Liberty extended the inning that allowed the Highlanders to take a 4-2 lead.
Ashley Carlson started things with an infield single, while the center fielder moved to second base on her team-leading 21st stolen base of the year. Alex Roderick grounded a hard shot down to Bennett at first base, but she wasn't able to make the play, giving the Highlanders runners at the corners.
After a strikeout by Amanda Walling, Ashley Taylor singled to the gap in right center field to plate both Carlson and Roderick to tie the game, while Cassie Rhodes followed with her fifth home run of the year with a two-run homer to left field to give Radford a 4-2 lead.
The Highlanders added three insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth inning as Danielle Tompkins was able to reach first on a throwing error on a tough play by Jessica Moore. Jennifer Everhart followed with a double to the gap in left center field to drive in pinch runner Larissa Williams, while Anne Tatum cleared the bases with a two-run run home run just over the fence in left field to give the Highlanders all the runs they would need.
After getting roughed up in the first inning, Taylor settled down and retired 18 of the last 19 batters of the game with a single by Williams in the sixth as the only hit over the final six frames. With the victory, Taylor upped her record to 20-9 on the year as she allowed two runs on three hits, while striking out 11 batters in seven innings worked.
Sarah Swor suffered the loss and finishes the year with a 16-11 record as she allowed seven runs, with just two earned, on seven hits in 5 1/3 innings of work, while Terra Lowe finished off the final 2/3 innings of work.
Williams led the Lady Flames from the plate as she was 2-for-3 with the record-setting RBI, while Hensley was 1-for-3 with a RBI base hit.
With the victory, the No. 2 seed Radford advance to Game 12 of the 2006 Big South Softball Championship where they will face No. 1 seed Coastal Carolina at 1 p.m. today.
If Coastal Carolina wins the game, the Chanticleers will claim the conference's title, while a victory by Radford will force a second title game with the victory winning the title and receiving the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Regionals.