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Extra Base Hits Abound As Lady Flames Split Doubleheader With Hampton
The Lady Flames pounded out 10 extra base hits, including three home runs to set a new single season home run record in a doubleheader split over Hampton, 11-2 win and a 7-6 extra inning loss, Thursday afternoon at the Hampton Softball Field.
After the split, the Lady Flames' record is 28-15 overall on the season, while Liberty, who ranks ninth in the nation in home runs, finishes the day with 45 home runs on the year which surpasses last year's school record 43 round trippers.
The Lady Flames jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning as three out of Liberty's four first inning hits fell for extra bases. Jessica Moore started the game with a double to right field, while two batters later, Beth Bennett doubled to the gap in right center field to put the Lady Flames on the scoreboard with the RBI base hit.
Ashley Williams followed with a RBI two-base hit to the fence in left center field to drive in Bennett, while Sarah Swor helped out her own cause with a single to left field to plate Williams and give Liberty a 3-0 lead.
Hampton trimmed the lead to just two runs in the bottom of the first as Camille Whittaker connected on her fourth home run of the year by sending a solo shot well over the fence in right center field to cut the lead to 3-1.
The Pirates continued to pull closer in the third inning as Brittany Davis reached on a base hit back up the middle. After moving to second on a passed ball, Davis scored on a RBI single to right field by Evelyn Garcia to trim Liberty's advantage to 3-2 midway through the game.
The Lady Flames upped their lead back to three runs in the fourth inning as Beth Hensley led off the frame by reaching first after a throwing error by Maggie Wolfe at third base. Swor followed with another helpful hit this time connecting on her fourth homer of the year with a two-run shot to right center field. The round tripper gave Liberty a 5-2 lead and helped the program tie a school record as that marked Liberty's 43rd home run of the year.
Liberty gave itself two insurance runs in the top of the sixth inning when pinch hitter Whitney Nixon and Jessica Leary both reached base on back-to-back walks, while Dawn Jeffs drove in pinch runner Sarah Love and Leary with a two-out two-RBI base hit to the gap in left filed to push the Lady Flames' lead to 7-2.
The Lady Flames put the game out of reach in the seventh inning as back-to-back singles by Williams and Hensley was followed by a two-RBI double by Swor, while Shannon McKain gave Liberty's its final two runs of the game with a two-run homer to left field, setting a new school record.
Swor upped her record to 10-6 on the season as she scattered four hits, while allowing two runs and striking out 11 batters in a complete-game effort. Amanda Black suffered the loss and falls to 7-4 as she was roughed up for 10 runs on 11 hits in six innings of work.
From the plate, the Lady Flames finished with 12 total hits, including five doubles and two home runs, while Swor led the Lady Flames offensively with a career day as she was 4-for-4 from the plate with five RBI and falling just a triple short of the cycle (single, two doubles and a home run).
Neither team started the second game looking sharp defensively in the field as a pair of errors by both teams led to a 2-1 Hampton lead after a complete inning.
Jessica Moore led off the game with a double down the left field line, while later scoring as Dawn Jeffs singled to left and the ball got passed Angela Balser to give Liberty a brief lead.
In the bottom half of the frame, Evelyn Garcia and Camille Whittaker had a single and double, respectively to give the Pirates runners at second and third. Maggie Wolfe grounded to short, but Moore was unable to hand the ball, allowing both runners to advance, while Balser flew out to deep left field and the throw back into the infield was misplayed to allow Whittaker to score and give Hampton a 2-1 lead.
Hampton continued to add to its lead in the bottom of the fourth inning as Wolfe connected on her team-leading 12th home run of the year, starting off the frame with a solo home run to right center field and giving the Pirates a 3-1 edge.
The Lady Flames regained the lead in the top of the fifth inning as Moore was struck by a pitch and stole second base. Jeffs was intentionally walked to set up the force at any base; however, starting pitcher Ashley Weissenbach tossed back-to-back wild pitches with the second miscue allowing Moore to score.
Two batters later, Williams followed with her eighth home run of the year with the two-run opposite field shot over the fence in right field giving Liberty a 4-3 lead.
The Lady Flames added an insurance run in the sixth inning as Shannon McKain doubled down the left field line, while pinch hitter Claire Fridey drove in pinch runner Rachel Love with a double to the gap in left center field to give Liberty a 5-3 edge.
Hampton was able to tie the game in the bottom of the sixth as Wolfe and Balser led off the inning with consecutive base hits down the left field line. Later in the frame, Amanda Black drove in pinch runner Julie Stalling with a base knock to center field, while Teresa Liggins got a two-out single to left field to plate Balser and knot the game at 5-5.
Liberty reclaimed the lead in the see-saw battle in the top of the seventh as Beth Bennett had single to right field, while pinch runner Erika Rasmussen was able to advance all the way to third on a pair of wild pitches. After Williams was struck by a pitch, Beth Hensley got a base hit to center field to drive in Rasmussen and give Liberty the lead again.
But it was short lived as the Pirates tied the game in the bottom of the seventh inning with a two-out rally as Wolfe walked and Balser followed with a RBI double to the gap in right center field to tie the game at 6-6.
Liberty wasn't able to get one across in the top half of the eighth inning, but the homestanding Pirates were a Kera Mathes, who started the inning at second base as part of the international tiebreaker rule, scored the decisive run on a game-winning back hit back up the middle by Black to give Hampton the victory.
Black picked up the victory in relief of Weissenbach as Black allowed just one run on two hits in 2 1/3 innings of work, while Swor suffered the loss in relief of starter Terra Lowe as Swor allowed four runs on six hits in four innings of work.
The Lady Flames will take the Easter Weekend off and return to action on Tuesday when they host UNC Greensboro for a non-conference doubleheader, starting at 2 p.m. at the Liberty Softball Field.