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Jefferson Shines on Senior Day as Flames Win
J'nae Jefferson sparkled in her final game at Liberty Softball Field, batting 3-for-4 with four RBIs as Liberty defeated Coastal Carolina, 8-2, on Senior Day.
With the win, the Lady Flames completed the sweep of the visiting Chanticleers, as Liberty won yesterday's doubleheader, 2-0 and 3-2.
The 2010 Liberty squad finishes the regular season with 37 wins, which is the third-most victories in a single season in program history. The Lady Flames will enter the Big South Championship next week as the No. 2 seed, behind the No. 1 Radford Highlanders.
Coastal Carolina jumped ahead in the top of the first with a run-scoring double to left by Stacy Snellings, giving the Chanticleers an early 1-0 advantage.
Kelly Strickland and Ashley Bensinger recorded back-to-back base hits with two outs in the bottom of the first, but they couldn't advance, as Kaylee West grounded out to the pitcher for the third out, and Coastal Carolina kept the lead.
The Chanticleers plated another run in the top of the second. Michelle Evans led off with a walk, and Alyssa Tornatore singled with a slap through the left side. Both runners advanced on a sacrifice bunt by Olivia Williams, and Evans crossed the plate when Brittany Bailey grounded out to short, giving Coastal Carolina a 2-0 lead.
Jefferson gave the Lady Flames a one-run lead in the bottom of the second with her second homer in two days, a three-run bomb over the left field fence. The shot scored Bridgett Woods, who walked, and Meredith Baisden, who doubled to left field, and Liberty went ahead, 3-2. The home run marked Jefferson's eighth of the season.
Liberty had a big inning in the bottom of the third, scoring three runs to take a 6-2 lead. With two outs, West ripped a double down the left field line, and scored when Bridgett Woods doubled up the middle. Baisden then added two more runs with her fourth homer of the year, a shot to center field for the inning's fourth hit and extending Liberty's lead.
Cacia Pierre led off the top of the fourth with a double that sailed over the head of Baisden, and advanced to third when Evans grounded out to West at first. But she remained stranded, as Liberty pitcher Kat Johnson recorded back-to-back strikeouts to end the at-bat.
Jefferson continued her stellar Senior Day performance in the bottom of the fourth, leading off with a double that nearly cleared the left field fence. She then scored one out later when Strickland hit a sacrifice fly to center field, and the score moved to 7-2.
Baisden led off the bottom of the fifth with a double that dropped into short left field, and stole third. With two outs, Jefferson kept her streak going, singling to center field for an RBI and extending the score to 8-2.
The Chanticleers weren't able to generate a comeback, and Liberty held on for the 8-2 win.
Liberty ends the regular season with a 37-16 overall record and a 13-5 mark in the Big South, which is the most conference wins in a single season in Liberty program history. In addition, Liberty had a 16-2 record at home this season, and won all 10 conference games played at Liberty Softball Field, which ties for the best home records in program history.
The Chanticleers end their regular season 25-29 overall and 6-12 in Big South play, and will enter next week's Big South Championship as the No. 6 seed.
Jefferson led all players, batting 3-for-4 with four RBIs, while Baisden was 3-for-3 with two doubles and a home run.
Stacy Snellings led the Chanticleers, batting 1-for-3 and driving in one run.
Johnson (10-4) picked up her fourth consecutive win in the circle, and claimed all three victories over Coastal Carolina in this weekend's series. Today, she gave up four hits and struck out seven batters in the complete-game win.
Katelin Edwards (11-10) suffered the loss, giving up seven hits and recording one strikeout in two 2/3 innings of work.
The Lady Flames will travel to Conway, S.C., for next week's Big South Championship. Liberty is scheduled to play No. 7 Presbyterian in the first round on Thursday at 11:30 a.m.