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Lady Flames Remain Perfect At Home With Sweep Over James Madison
The Lady Flames pounded out nine hits en route to an 8-3 opening game victory, while some timely hitting and a solid pitcher performance led to a 2-1 second game victory over James Madison, Wednesday afternoon, at the Liberty Softball Field.
With the pair of victories, the Lady Flames remain undefeated at home this year with a perfect 6-0 record. The team's overall record climbs to 21-8, marking the second fastest that Liberty has reached the 20-win plateau in the program's history, ranking just behind the 1996 squad that won 20 out of its first 25 games.
In the first game, James Madison wasted little time getting on the scoreboard as the Dukes second batter Jenn Chavez was issued a walk in the top of the first inning. After moving to second on a wild pitch, Chavez scored on a RBI base hit to right field by Megan Smith to give the Dukes an early 1-0 lead.
Liberty finally got its offense going in the third inning as the Lady Flames exploded for four run on four hits. Courtney Johnson started the scoring outburst by drawing a walk, while Jessica Moore and Dawn Jeffs followed with singles to load the bases.
Beth Bennett singled through the left side of the infield to drive in Johnson and Moore, while two batters later, Beth Hensley drove in Jeffs and Bennett with a triple off the fence in right field to give Liberty a 4-1 edge.
The Lady Flames added to their lead in the fourth inning as Johnson and Moore both reached base on fielder's choice plays, while for the second-straight inning, Bennett had a two-RBI single with a base hit to center field to drive in the two base runners and push Liberty's lead to 6-1.
The Dukes trimmed Liberty's lead back three runs in the top of the sixth inning as Katie George led off the frame with a single through the left side of the infield, while Megan Smith was issued a walk.
After relief pitcher Sarah Swor got back-to-back strikeouts to start her relief stint, Jenny Clochan was able to get the bat on the ball with a single back up the middle to plate George and Smith and cut the Lady Flames' lead to 6-3.
But Liberty answered back in the bottom half of the inning as Moore led off the frame with her team-leading 10th home run of the year, sending a solo shot over the fence in right center field. Jeffs followed with a base hit to left right, while Bennett followed with a double down the left field line to give the first baseman her fifth RBI of the game and give Liberty an 8-3 lead.
Sarah Ellis picked up the victory and upped her record to 6-0 on the year as the freshman allowed three runs on four hits in five plus innings of work, while striking out five and walking two. Swor finished off the final two innings of the game by allowing three hits and recording three strikeouts. Clochan suffered the loss as she allowed eight runs on nine hits in 5 2/3 innings of action.
Offensively, Bennett finished the game a perfect 3-for-3 from the plate with a season-high five RBI, while Moore was 2-for-4 with three runs scored and Jeffs was 2-for-2 with two runs scored.
In the second game, the Lady Flames kept their offensive push going as Jeffs connected on her third home run of the year with a solo home run to center field in the first inning, giving Liberty a quick 1-0 lead.
But, the remainder of the game turned into a pitcher's duel as the score remained the same until the top of the sixth inning when Julia Dominquez hit a two-out solo homer to right center field to knot the score at 1-1.
In the bottom of the seventh, Shannon McKain started a rally with a lead off single to right field, while pinch hitter Whitney Nixon drew a walk two batters later. Moore grounded into a fielder's choice, forcing pinch runner Sarah Love out a third base.
With runners at first and second base and two outs, Dukes' head coach Katie Flynn decided to internationally walk Jeffs to load the base, setting the stage for Bennett and the freshman came through with her sixth RBI of the afternoon with a game-winning single to left field to end the game and give Liberty the victory.
Terra Lowe picked up the victory and now stands at 7-4 on the year as she scattered eight hits and allowed just one run, while striking out eight batters in her fifth complete game of the year. Meredith Felts was the tough luck loser as she allowed two runs on five hits, while fanning nine batters in a complete-game effort.
Liberty mustered just five hits in the second game, with Jeffs finishing the game 2-for-3, while Bennett, Ashley Williams and McKain finished with the team's three remaining hits.
Jeffs 2-for-3 outing allowing the second basemen to push her hitting streak to 13-straight games, while Moore 0-for-4 outing in the second game ended her hitting streak at 13 games.
The Lady Flames return to action tomorrow when they travel to Knoxville, Tenn. to face second-ranked Tennessee for a non-conference doubleheader. First pitch of the first game is scheduled for 3 p.m. and both games of the twinbill will be broadcast LIVE on WWMC 90.9 FM "The Light" and online at www.TheLightOnline.com.