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Liberty Season Ends with 4-0 Loss to Winthrop
The Liberty offense struggled against Winthrop pitcher Cari Wooldridge, only recording three hits, as the No. 3 seeded Eagles defeated the No. 2 seeded Lady Flames, 4-0, in the consolation finals of the Big South Championship in Conway, S.C.
With the loss, the Lady Flames end the regular season with a 39-18 overall record, which is the third-most wins in Liberty program history. 2010 also marks the third consecutive year that Liberty has advanced to Championship Saturday at the Big South Championship.
After a three-up, three-down at-bat by the Eagles, J'nae Jefferson led off with a single through the left side in the bottom of the first. But Winthrop made the play on three straight outs, stranding one Liberty runner and moving the game into the second frame.
After a hitless second inning, Winthrop took a lead in the top of the third. After Liberty catcher Ashley Bensinger was charged with a dropped foul on a pop-up behind the plate, Ashleigh Jackson ripped a solo homer to left center, giving the Eagles a 1-0 advantage.
Winthrop recorded a hit in the top of the fourth when Lauren Levin singled with a blooper down the right field line, but the Liberty defense kept a run from scoring another run.
Jenny Law put the bat on the ball in the bottom of the fourth, picking up Liberty's second hit with a single to left center. But Law was forced out on the next play when Kelly Strickland hit a grounder to third baseman Pearl Coleshill. That was followed up by a swinging strikeout by Bensinger, and
Kaylee West grounded out to the pitcher to end the inning without a Liberty run scoring.
The Eagles put a runner in scoring position in the top of the fifth, when Veronica Berrie reached on a fielder's choice, then stole second. Pitcher Katie Warrington fanned the No. 9 batter, Lenny Stoddart, and Megan Chapman was out when she touched the ball in fair territory, and the score stayed unchanged.
Amber DePasquale caught a lucky break in the bottom of the fifth, reaching on a fielding error when Winthrop shortstop Chapman missed a pop-up. But her luck ran out, as she was caught stealing on the next play for the third out.
Winthrop made another offensive threat in the top of the sixth, as Coleshill caught a lucky break of her own with a double on a short fly ball to left that shortstop Strickland couldn't keep in her glove on the backhand stab. Coleshill moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Taylor Wright, and Levin drew a walk to load the bases. Tiffani Smith came into the circle in relief at that time.
The Eagles scored another run on a squeeze play by Revell, and pinch runner Jenna Harbin advanced to third when she saw no one was covering. Harbin then crossed the plate on a sacrifice fly to left by Kelly Blea, giving Winthrop a 3-0 lead with time running out.
Cassie Hendrix led off the bottom of the sixth with an infield single, trying to spark the offense. But J'nae Jefferson flied out to right and Jenny Law grounded into a 6-3 double play to end the inning.
The Eagles added an insurance run in the top of the seventh when Colsehill tapped an RBI single into center field, scoring Berrie, and Winthrop moved to a 4-0 lead.
The Lady Flames failed to generate a comeback in the bottom of the seventh, and the Eagles sealed the 4-0 win.
Winthrop advances to the championship game, where the Eagles will face No. 1 Radford for the Big South Softball Championship title, today at 2 p.m.
Jefferson went 1-for-3 in her last appearance as a Lady Flame, while Law and Hendrix each went 1-for-2 at the plate. Jackson led the Eagles, batting 2-for-3 with an RBI.
Warrington (8-7) took the loss, giving up five hits and striking out four batters, while Wooldridge (17-14) gave up three hits and struck out four batters in the shutout.