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Jackson State Narrowly Defeats Liberty, 7-6
Despite home runs by Jenny Law, Ashley Bensinger and Kelly Strickland, the Lady Flames dropped a 7-6 decision to Jackson State, Friday afternoon, in the opening game of the Stetson Classic in DeLand, Fla.
The game saw three lead changes, with the Tigers holding on for the win.
Liberty drops to 5-3 on the year, while Jackson State improves to 6-11.
Liberty attacked immediately, taking advantage of costly Tiger errors to score two runs in the top of the first. With two outs, Jenny Law drew a walk, and advanced to third when Ashley Bensinger reached second on a throwing error by pitcher LeEthel Guillory. Both runners scored on the next play, when Kaylee West singled to left and moved onto second when left-fielder Anesha McClendon bobbled the ball.
The Tigers roared back in the bottom of the second, ripping five hits off starter Tiffani Smith, moving to a 3-2 advantage. With one out, designated player Janell Plaza singled on a bunt, then moved to second when catcher Bensinger made a wild throw on a pickoff attempt at first.
Arianna Smith was up next, and singled through the left side. Both runners scored with two outs, when Guillory singled to left field.
After Breea Jamerson singled to center field, Guillory scored on a single up the middle by Wendi Reed, giving Jackson State the one-run lead.
That lead didn't last long, as Law and Bensinger teamed up for back-to-back solo homers to give Liberty a 4-3 advantage.
West tried to keep the momentum going, following up with a deep double that just missed clearing the center field fence. After Kelly Strickland drew a walk, Bridgett Woods struck out to end the top of the third.
But the Tigers came right back to tie it, 4-all, in the bottom of the third. Farren Wright led off with a walk, and moved to second on a groundout. After Plaza walked, Jackson State pulled a fake bunt-double steal, putting runners on second and third with one out. When Smith grounded out to relief pitcher Alyssa DiMartino, Wright scored to tie the game.
After the Lady Flames failed to muster any offense in the top of the fifth, the Tigers came back to the plate and scored another run to regain the lead. Later, with two outs, Wright scored from second on a single to right by Smith, which was a close play at the plate. That was enough to give Jackson State a 6-4 lead going into the sixth inning.
Strickland cut that lead to one run at her next at-bat, busting a solo home run down the left field line, her first of the season.
After a scoreless bottom half of the inning, the Lady Flames tied it up once again in the top of the seventh. Katie Zavodny led off with a bunt single, then stole second. Pinch hitter Grace Nordan then stepped up with a sacrifice bunt to move Zavodny to third, and Bensinger hit a sacrifice fly to center field to tie the game, 6-6.
But Jackson State was able to close it out in the bottom of the seventh, loading the bases with no outs. Reliever Katrina Johnson hit Smith with a pitch to bring in the winning run, and the Tigers walked away with the 7-6 win.
West was 2-for-4 with two RBIs for Liberty, and Bensinger was 1-for-3 at the plate and drove in two runs.
The Tigers were paced by Wright, who hit 2-for-3 and scored three runs, while Guillory recorded two RBIs on one hit.
DiMartino suffered the loss, dropping to 0-1, while Guillory (3-5) picked up the win in the circle.
Liberty starter Tiffani Smith threw 2.1 innings, giving up five hits.
The Lady Flames will next face the Iowa Hawkeyes in the Stetson Classic. First pitch is scheduled for 1:30 p.m.