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Radford Edges Lady Flames, 5-4
Despite outhitting the Highlanders, 7-6, the Lady Flames couldn't muster enough offense at the end, and Radford walked away with a 5-4 victory, Saturday afternoon.
The win marks Radford's (19-10, 1-0 Big South) first Big South victory of the year, while Liberty drops to 9-13 overall and 0-1 in conference play.
The Highlanders struck first, scoring two runs off of two hits in the top of the second. After Taylor Cunningham led off with a single to right center, and moved to second on a successful sac bunt by Michelle Beall. Designated player Meredith Moore then drew a walk, and Shannon Keefe fouled out for the second out.
Both runners advanced on a wild pitch by Liberty starter Tiffani Smith, and Ryndee Ruch singled down the left field line to bring in the first run of the game.
The Lady Flames ran into trouble next, when Lauren Williams reached on a throwing error by Sammi Shivock, and pinch runner Maureen Hepner crossed the plate to put the Highlanders ahead, 2-0.
Radford extended its lead to 4-0 in the top of the third when Nichole Beall ripped a two-run homer with two outs. Cunningham also crossed the plate on the play after drawing a two-out walk.
Shivock recorded Liberty's first hit of the contest in the bottom of the third with a one-out rip up the middle. But she was out on the next play, when Amber DePasquale grounded into a double play.
The Lady Flames came alive in the bottom of the fourth inning, cutting Radford's lead in half. With one out, Keely McMillon drew a walk. An out later, Ashley Bensinger doubled down the left field line, and Radford hurler Jackie Jenkins intentionally walked Kelly Strickland to load the bases with two outs.
At that point, Meredith Crisante came up with a clutch hit, a double to center field, bringing in two runs to bring the score to 4-2.
But the Highlanders responded with another run in the top of the fifth to move ahead, 5-2. After Hannah Ojeda was hit by a pitch, she stole second. Two outs later, she scored from second on a RBI single by Michelle Beall.
Zavodny tapped an infield hit that was good for a single with two outs in the bottom of the fifth. But she stayed put, when McMillon hit into a fielder's choice and Zavodny was out at second.
But Liberty managed another run in the bottom of the sixth, when Bensinger tapped a solo homer over the fence in right center field to bring the Lady Flames back within two. Strickland tried to keep it going with a single to shallow center, but Crisante hit into a double play to end the inning.
Jill Stephens hit her first career bomb on the first pitch in the bottom of the seventh, a homer off the scoreboard in center field. But the Highlanders came up with three straight outs to end the game with a 5-4 score.
Michelle Beall led the Highlanders, batting 2-for-3 with three RBIs.
Bensinger was 2-for-3 at the plate and drove in a run for Liberty, while Crisante tallied two RBIs.
Jenkins (8-0) picked up the win, giving up six hits in 5.1 innings, and Stephanie Dameron picked up her first save of the year.
Smith took the loss in the circle, dropping to 3-7. She gave up four hits and struck out one Radford batter in 4.2 innings of work.
The Lady Flames will face Radford again this afternoon for the second game of the day's doubleheader.