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Lady Flames to Conclude Regular Season at Coastal Carolina
The Liberty Lady Flames will round out the 2011 regular-season slate this weekend, traveling to Conway, S.C. for a three-game Big South series at Coastal Carolina on Saturday and Sunday.
Saturday's doubleheader will begin at 3 p.m., followed by a single game Sunday at 1 p.m.
The Lady Flames have won two of their last five contests, picking up a 4-2 win over Presbyterian College April 30 before blanking Virginia, 8-0, in the first game of a non-conference twinbill on Tuesday. In that game, Liberty senior pitcher Tiffani Smith gave up just one hit in the five-inning contest.
Liberty enters this weekend's series with a 24-26 overall record, and a 9-6 mark in the Big South. That performance is good for a second-place rank in the current conference standings, with Radford in the lead (13-2 Big South). Coastal Carolina is currently fifth with a 6-9 conference mark. The Chanticleers are 22-29 overall this season.
The Lady Flames have consistently posted the highest Big South batting average this season, and are maintaining that No. 1 spot with a .286 team average. Kelly Strickland, Keely McMillon and Ashley Bensinger have the third, fourth and fifth-best individual batting averages in the conference, at .362, .352 and .345, respectively. The team has posted six or more hits in eight of the last nine games.
Strickland has been a dominant power hitter this season, and ranks first in the conference with 15 home runs. She also leads the league in runs scored (36), RBIs (43), on-base percentage (.471) and slugging percentage (.723). The junior infielder's last homer was a grand slam on April 30, helping the Lady Flames to a 4-2 victory over the Blue Hose of Presbyterian College.
In the circle, sophomore Katrina Johnson (12-11) leads the team with a 2.13 ERA, 13 complete games, 170.2 innings pitched and 120 strikeouts.
Coastal Carolina most recently took two out of three games from Big South opponent Gardner-Webb over the weekend, winning the first two games, 3-0 and 11-3, before falling to the Runnin' Bulldogs, 8-7, in the final game Sunday. The Chanticleers swept the weekly conference awards, with freshman infielder Beth Donovan winning Choice Hotels Player of the Week honors and freshman pitcher Ashley Bagwell being named The Crons Brand Pitcher of the Week.
Donovan leads the team with a .315 batting average, the only batter hitting over .300 for Coastal Carolina. She also paces the team in hits (51) and runs scored (24).
Bagwell (12-13) leads the pitching staff with a 2.60 ERA and three shutouts on the year. She has thrown a total of 161.1 innings and has amassed 144 strikeouts.
Liberty is 25-26 all-time against the Chanticleers, after posting four victories over Coastal Carolina in 2010. The Lady Flames swept the regular season series, 2-0, 3-2 and 8-2, before eliminating the host Chanticleers from the 2010 Big South Championship with a 5-3 win.