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Liberty Stays Alive, Edges Chants 5-3
After trailing for three innings, timely homers by Bridgett Woods and Meredith Baisden set up a 5-3 victory for No. 2 seed Liberty over No. 6 seed Coastal Carolina, Friday night, in the 2010 Big South Softball Championship in Conway, S.C.
With the win, the Lady Flames improve to 39-17 on the year, which is the third-most wins in Liberty program history. The 1999 and 2006 squads ended their seasons with 41 victories.
In addition, Tiffani Smith picked up her 20th win of the season in the circle, which ties her with Katie Phillips for the second-most wins in a single season.
The Lady Flames started out shaky, as the Chanticleers loaded the bases with only one out in the top of the first. Ashley Pisone led off with an infield single, and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Sarah Maples. Freshman Jazmin Daigle drew a base on balls, and Cacia Pierre reached on a fielding error by first baseman Kaylee West, loading the bags.
Stacy Snellings then stepped into the box to rip a two-RBI single to left center, followed by a single through the left side by Michelle Evans to bring in another run, giving Coastal Carolina a 3-0 lead.
Head coach Paul Wetmore made the call to the bullpen at that point, bringing in Smith in relief, who was named Big South Pitcher of Year on Wednesday. Alyssa Tornatore grounded out to second, and Liberty left-fielder Meredith Baisden covered a lot of ground on the next play, making the catch on a fly ball in foul territory for the third out.
Kelly Strickland recorded Liberty's first hit of the game with a stand-up double with two outs in the bottom of the first. But Ashley Bensinger struck out swinging for the third out, and Coastal Carolina stayed on top.
The Lady Flames sparked in the bottom of the fourth, scoring three runs to tie it up. After West singled up the middle, designated player Bridgett Woods busted her first career home run, a shot down the left field line, to bring the score to 3-2.
Baisden kept the rally going, drawing a walk, and Amber DePasquale came through with an RBI single to left, tying the score at 3-3.
The Chants tried to answer in the top of the fifth. With one out, Pierre busted a liner into the gap in left center. However a strong throw in from DePasquale caught Pierre between bases, and Hendrix was able to field the cutoff and tossed to West, who applied the tag for the second out.
Coastal Carolina wasn't ready to sit down just yet, as Snellings drew a walk, Evans reached on a fielding error by Strickland at shortstop, and Tornatore walked to load the bases with two outs.
But Smith halted the Chanticleers' hopes of regaining the lead, striking out Olivia Piccirillo to get out of the jam.
Jenny Law nearly gave Liberty the first lead of the game with a shot deep to left center in the bottom of the fifth, but center fielder Tornatore robbed her of the homer with the catch over the fence, and the game stayed tied.
Bensinger led off the bottom of the sixth with a double down the left field line. After a groundout by West and a strikeout by Woods, Baisden stepped in to blast her fifth home run of the year, an opposite field shot to right, to put the Lady Flames ahead, 5-3.
The Lady Flames were able to contain Coastal Carolina in the top of the seventh, and walked away with a 5-3 win.
Woods and Baisden led the Lady Flames, each driving in two runs with their homers. Snellings paced Coastal Carolina, batting 2-for-3 with two RBIs.
Smith (20-7) gave up no earned runs and struck out six batters in six and 2/3 innings of work. The junior has now tossed 19 1/3 innings of work at this year's Big South Softball Championship, scattering 12 hits and two unearned runs, with both coming during extra innings against Winthrop, last night.
Ashley Frederick suffered the loss for the Chanticleers, as she (16-17) gave up seven hits and struck out five batters in five and 2/3 innings.
The win for Liberty extends the Lady Flames season, but eliminates the Chants from the 2010 Big South Softball Championship and ends their 2010 campaign with a 27-31 record.
Liberty stays alive, and will face No. 3 Winthrop in the consolation bracket finals tomorrow morning at 10 a.m. The Eagles defeated Liberty, 4-3 in nine innings, Thursday evening, before falling to No. 1 seed Radford today, 8-3.
The winner of tomorrow morning's contest will advance to the Big South Championship finals to face Radford at 2 p.m. tomorrow.