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Consistent Hitting Helps Liberty to 7-2 Win
The Lady Flames recorded double-digit hits for the sixth time in the last eight games, as their 10 knocks helped them to a 7-2 win over Winthrop, Sunday afternoon.
Liberty, which split a doubleheader with the Eagles yesterday, improves to 12-14 overall and 3-2 in conference play. Winthrop drops to 8-22 and 1-4 in the Big South.
The Lady Flames struck first, scoring two runs on three hits and a Winthrop miscue in the top of the second inning. Kelly Strickland led off with a single through the right side, and moved to second on a sac bunt by designated player Jill Stephens. Strickland advanced to third when Jenny Law singled to right, and Law promptly stole second. Next up was Kaylee West, who drove in Strickland with a single through the right side.
With two outs, Sammi Shivock reached on a throwing error by second baseman Brittany Stoudemire, allowing Law to score for a 2-0 Liberty lead.
The Eagles loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom of the second. Veronica Berrie was hit by a pitch with one out, and Stoudemire followed up with Winthrop's first hit of the game, a single to left. After both runners advanced by tagging on a fly out by Ashleigh Jackson, Kelly Blea drew a walk to load the bases.
But Liberty escaped the jam and kept Winthrop from scoring, as pinch hitter Lauren Levin grounded out to shortstop to end the inning.
The Lady Flames tacked on three more runs to their lead for a 5-0 score in the top of the third. With one out, Bensinger singled to left, and Strickland was hit by a pitch. Stephens then belted a single down the left field line to score Bensinger, and Law followed up with a single over the center fielder's head to load the bases with one out.
West then reached on a fielder's choice, as Strickland scored and Stephens was forced out at third. Amber DePasquale drove in another run with a single through the left side to extend Liberty's lead.
The Eagles inched back in the bottom of the third. Leadoff batter Megan Chapman started the frame with an infield single, then successfully stole second. She moved to third on a sac bunt by McKenzie Corn, and scored on a double by Chelsey Schoenfeldt that nearly cleared the wall in right field, putting Winthrop on the board.
The Lady Flames stayed hot at the plate in the top of the fourth, scoring two more runs on two hits to take a 7-1 lead. McMillon led off with a single to right center, followed by a Bensinger walk. Both runners advanced on a wild pitch, and Strickland stepped in the box to bust a single down the right field line for an RBI.
Next up was Bridgett Woods, who came into the game for Stephens in the designated player slot. She grounded out to first, but Bensinger scored on the play.
The Eagles were able to add a run to their total in the bottom of the fifth. Corn, who reached on a fielder's choice with two outs, scored after back-to-back singles by Kathryn Eberlin and Schoenfeldt, bringing the score to 7-2.
McMillon recorded her second hit of the game to lead off the sixth with a stand-up double to right center. But she was out on the next play when Strickland grounded into a double play, and Woods struck out to end the at-bat.
The Eagles made a last-ditch effort in the bottom of the seventh, when Chapman reached on a one-out single to right center. She then moved into scoring position on a wild pitch by Alyssa DiMartino, who had just entered the game in relief at the beginning of the half-inning. Corn was up next, and drew a walk to put runners on first and second with one out.
But DiMartino settled down, striking out Eberlin. Schoenfeldt then grounded out to first to end the game, giving Liberty a 7-2 victory.
Strickland led the Lady Flames, batting 2-for-3 with an RBI and two runs scored, while West was 1-for-4 and drove in two runs. Also recording two hits for Liberty were McMillon and Law.
Schoenfeldt paced the Eagles, batting 2-for-4 and driving in two runs.
Katrina Johnson picked up the win in the circle to improve to 7-4. She gave up seven hits and struck out one batter in six complete innings.
Schoenfeldt (4-7) suffered the loss, giving up five hits and four earned runs in 2.1 innings of work.
Not only was the contest broadcast live on ESPNU, a first for the Liberty softball program, but two members of the Lady Flames softball family were honored prior to the game. Kayla and April Jace, who were officially adopted as honorary members of the Liberty softball team on April 3, 2010, threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
Kayla and April were matched up with the Lady Flames through the Friends of Jaclyn organization, which is a program that improves the quality of life for children with pediatric brain tumors and their families. The foundation was inspired by Jaclyn Murphy, who was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor in March 2004 when she was nine. Jaclyn's strength, courage, relentless spirit and joy for life are an inspiration to those who know her. Her wish is "for all children in hospitals to be healed."
In 2010, prior to a regular-season Winthrop vs. Liberty doubleheader at Liberty Softball Field, the players and coaches from both teams hosted a hitting skills clinic to raise money for the foundation.
Liberty is back in action Wednesday in Greensboro, N.C., taking on UNC Greensboro in a non-conference doubleheader at 3 p.m. The Eagles also have a non-conference opponent listed next on their schedule, as they will travel to Cullowhee, N.C., Wednesday, to face off against Western Carolina.