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Bensinger Shines as Liberty Defeats CSU

April 9, 2011
|  Lynchburg, Va.
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Ashley Bensinger recorded two RBI triples and three different Lady Flames had multiple-hit games, Saturday afternoon, as Liberty defeated Charleston Southern, 4-1.

Bensinger's two-triple performance tied Stacy Radulovich for most triples in a game in program history. Radulovich recorded two triples on March 30, 1998 against North Carolina A&T.

The game marked the final contest of a three-game Big South series between the two teams, and the Lady Bucs and the Lady Flames split yesterday's doubleheader.

Liberty improves to 14-17 overall and 5-3 in conference play, while Charleston Southern drops to 17-24 overall and 4-4 in the Big South.

The Lady Bucs didn't waste any time, putting runners on base immediately. Megan Lombard drilled the first pitch to left center for a leadoff double. Kristin Kelleher hit a liner to left, but was robbed of a base hit when Katie Zavodny made a diving catch.

Erin Kegley was hit by a pitch to put two runners on, but Jana Matthews popped out and Jessica Brock grounded out to third, and Charleston Southern stayed scoreless.

Keely McMillon recorded Liberty's first hit of the game in the bottom of the first with a one-out single to left, and moved to second when Kelly Strickland grounded out to the pitcher. But she stayed stranded when Ashley Bensinger grounded out, sending the scoreless contest into the second frame.

Jenny Law tried to kickstart some offense for Liberty in the bottom of the second, leading off with a single to left. But the Lady Bucs came up with three straight outs to keep a run from scoring.

The Lady Flames were able to produce two runs in the bottom of the third for a 2-0 lead. Amber DePasquale led off with a walk, and advanced to second on a wild pitch.

Next up, Sammi Shivock safely reached first on a muffed throw by first baseman Kelleher, followed by a McMillon groundout and a Strickland lineout. That's when Bensinger stepped into the batter's box and ripped a triple to right field, scoring DePasquale and Shivock for the Liberty lead.

Liberty pitcher Katrina Johnson got into a jam in the top of the fourth, as the Lady Bucs loaded the bases with only one out.

At that point, Trea Steele singled through the left side for an RBI, cutting Liberty's lead in half for a 2-1 score.

But Johnson kept her composure, fanning Melissa Adams and Ari Tedesco to end the at-bat with no more damage.

Kaylee West led off the bottom of the fourth with a double to right center, and was replaced by pinch runner Grace Nordan. After Bridgett Woods struck out, Nordan advanced to third on a sac bunt by Zavodny. But Nordan stayed put, as DePasquale grounded out to end the inning.

Liberty was able to pad its lead in the bottom of the fifth. McMillon reached on a one-out single up the middle, but was forced out at second when Strickland reached on a fielder's choice.

Next, Bensinger ripped her second triple of the game to score Strickland, and Bensinger herself crossed home on a single up the middle by Law, giving the Lady Flames a 4-1 advantage.

After a three-up, three-down at-bat for the Lady Bucs, Liberty was able to put a runner in scoring position in the bottom of the sixth. With one out, Zavodny singled up the middle, then stole second for her 18th stolen base of the season. She moved onto third when DePasquale lined out, and Shivock fouled out to first to send the game into the final inning.

The Lady Bucs refused to lie down, as Steele led off the top of the seventh with a walk, and one out later, moved to third on a Tedesco double over the head of DePasquale in center field. At that point, head coach Paul Wetmore brought in Tiffani Smith to relieve Johnson in the circle.

Smith ended the game quickly, as Lombard grounded out to second and Kelleher flied out to left to end the game.

Bensinger led the Lady Flames, batting 2-for-3 with three RBIs. Law also went 2-for-3 at the plate and drove in a run for Liberty.

Steele paced the visitors, batting 1-for-2 with an RBI.

Johnson (8-5) earned the win in the circle, giving up five hits and striking out seven batters in 6.1 innings.

Smith picked up her first save of the year.

Dowdy drops to 7-14 after giving up seven hits and fanning two batters in five complete innings.

The Lady Flames are back in action on Wednesday, facing James Madison in a non-conference doubleheader in Harrisonburg, Va. First pitch is scheduled for 4 p.m.

The Lady Bucs will also compete in a non-conference doubleheader next, traveling to Farmville, Va., tomorrow for a noon start.