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Liberty Halts Blackbirds, 6-4
Katie Zavodny was 4-for-4 and Jenny Law drove in two runs, helping the Lady Flames to a 6-4 win, Friday afternoon, over Long Island. The game was Liberty's second of the day as part of the USF The Game Tournament in Clearwater, Fla.
The win breaks a four-game skid for Liberty, and the Lady Flames are now 8-8 on the year.
The Blackbirds of Long Island drop to 7-20 in 2011 after losing their second game in a row.
The Lady Flames had 10 hits in the contest, tying for the second-best offensive performance this year.
Liberty exploded in the top of the first, scoring three runs on three hits to take an early lead. Sammi Shivock led off with a walk, and Zavodny reached on a bunt single down the third base line. Both runs scored when Law doubled to right center, and advanced to third on the throw home.
The Lady Flames didn't stop there, as Law crossed the plate on a single to right center by Kelly Strickland, put Liberty ahead, 3-0.
Long Island bounced back in the bottom of the second, taking advantage of a couple of illegal pitches by Tiffani Smith plus a Liberty fielding error, scoring three runs on two hits to tie the game.
The Lady Flames responded with another run in the top of the third to regain the lead, 4-3. Zavodny led off with a bunt single, then stole second. After Strickland drew a one-out walk, Bensinger reached on a fielding error by shortstop Bianca Mejia and Zavodny came home.
Liberty tacked another run onto its lead during the next frame to go up by two runs, 5-3. Keely McMillon led off with a ground-rule double that rolled under the fence in left center. One out later, Shivock reached on a fielder's choice, but pinch runner Grace Nordan was caught in a pickle between third and home. Next, Shivock, who had advanced to second on the previous play, stole third, and scored on a Zavodny single.
The Blackbirds made it a one-run game once again in the bottom of the fifth. Madison Zymkowitz led off with a walk, and Emily Kakusa singled to right. Both runners advanced on a sac bunt by Jazmin Rodriguez, and Sterling Hoham drove in a run with a single through the right side, bringing the score to 5-4.
A wild pitch by Megan Sheaf made it 6-4 in the top of the sixth. Kaylee West led off with a long double to right center, and pinch-runner Meredith Crisante moved to third on a wild pitch, then scored on another wild pitch to put Liberty up by two.
The Blackbirds tried to make it interesting in the bottom of the seventh, putting runners on first and second with two outs. Rodriguez reached on a one-out single up the middle, and Hoham fouled out. Next, pinch hitter Brooklyn York came up with a big single to left, keeping the hope alive for Long Island.
But Liberty closed it out on the next play, when Amanda MacIntosh popped up to Johnson, sealing the 6-4 win for the Lady Flames.
Zavodny had a stellar day at the plate with four hits and an RBI, and McMillon was 2-for-3 for Liberty. Other than Law, Lady Flames with RBIs were Zavodny and Strickland with one apiece.
Hoham led the Blackbirds, batting 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored.
Johnson (4-4) picked up the win in the circle, giving up six hits and striking out five batters while giving up one earned run in 5.1 innings of work.
Sheaf took the loss, dropping to 1-7 after giving up 10 hits and five earned runs. She struck out six Liberty batters in the contest.
Liberty continues the tournament tomorrow, with games scheduled against Chattanooga at 10 a.m. and Buffalo at 3 p.m.