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Big Seventh Frame Lifts Liberty Over Princeton
A five-run seventh inning propelled the Lady Flames past the Princeton Tigers, 8-2, Saturday afternoon, at the UMBC Retriever Classic in Baltimore, Md.
The game was tied going into the sixth inning, before Ashley Bensinger's first homer of the year gave Liberty a lead that it never relinquished.
Liberty improves to 5-2 on the year, while the Tigers, who defeated Iona earlier in the day, 7-6, drop to 1-2 in 2011.
The Lady Flames immediately took a 1-0 lead, thanks in part to a Princeton fielding error in the top of the first. Katie Zavodny led off with an infield single, then promptly stole second. She scored on the next play, when Sammi Shivock's fly ball to left popped out of Austin Sanders' glove.
After a full frame of three-up, three-down situations, the Tigers put runners on base in the bottom of the third. Designated player Kelsey VandeBergh led off with a hard-hit single to third, but was thrown out by Bridgett Woods at second on the next play. After Sanders drew a walk, Maddie Cousens, who had reached on a fielder's choice, moved to third when Nicole Ontiveros reached on another fielder's choice as Sanders was thrown out at second by Shivock. With runners on the corners, Kaylee West stopped a grounder by Candy Button and tagged first to end the inning without a Princeton run being scored.
The Lady Flames got into trouble in the top of the fourth, as Princeton loaded the bases with nobody out. Then, Megan Weidrick ripped a single to right field, bringing in two runs to give the Tigers a 2-1 lead.
Liberty forged back in the top of the fifth, with pinch hitter Jill Stephens leading off with a single up the middle. She advanced to second when Meredith Crisante followed up with a single to third, and scored on a wild pitch by starter Michelle Tolfa, tying the game at 2-2.
The Tigers made another threat in the bottom of the fifth, after Tiffani Smith entered the game in relief. Ontiveros led off with a single through the left side, but Smith struck out the next two batters, and catcher Bensinger threw Ontiveros out at second on a steal attempt, ending the inning with the score remaining 2-2.
Next came Bensinger's solo shot in the top of the sixth inning, a one-out bomb that sailed over the fence in right center, giving Liberty a one-run advantage.
After a scoreless Princeton at-bat, the Lady Flames came up to the plate for a magical inning. Crisante started things off with a single to right field, and Amber DePasquale brought her in with a double down the left field line. After Zavodny struck out, Princeton's Liza Kuhn walked three straight batters: Shivock, Jenny Law and Bensinger, allowing DePasquale to score.
Kaylee West was up next, and placed a timely two-RBI single through the right side. Kelly Strickland continued the hot streak with a single of her own, bringing in another run and giving Liberty an 8-2 advantage.
Three groundouts took place in the bottom of the seventh, allowing Liberty to walk away with its third straight win.
Smith picked up the win to improve to 3-1 on the year, giving up two hits and striking out four batters in three complete innings. Meanwhile, starter Katrina Johnson also struck out four batters in four innings of work.
Kuhn (0-1) suffered the loss for the Tigers, giving up five hits and six earned runs while fanning two batters in two complete innings.
Bensinger paced the Lady Flames, batting 2-for-2 with two RBIs and two runs scored, while West also drove in two runs.
Weidrick led the Tigers, going 1-for-3 with two RBIs.
The Lady Flames will conclude the UMBC Retriever Classic tomorrow, facing the Siena Saints for a second time during the tournament. First pitch is scheduled for 9:30 a.m.