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Smith Throws No-Hitter as Liberty Eliminates Winthrop
Senior Tiffani Smith tossed her second career no-hitter, Friday morning, helping No. 2 Liberty eliminate No. 7 Winthrop with a 3-0 win in the 2011 Big South Championship presented by Musco Sports Lighting.
Two home runs by Meredith Crisante and one by Kelly Strickland helped seal the Liberty victory.
Smith narrowly missed a perfect game, as she walked two batters during the game.
The Lady Flames improve to 27-28 this year, while Winthrop's season ends at 16-36.
After 11 straight outs to start the contest, Katie Zavodny recorded the first hit of the game with a two-out infield single in the bottom of the second. She stole second to move into scoring position, but Sammi Shivock grounded out to end the inning.
Keely McMillon tried to start something for the Lady Flames in the bottom of the third, and led off with a single to right center. But the senior tried to turn it into a double, and was thrown out at second. The Lady Eagles then recorded two straight outs to end the frame.
Winthrop got its first base runner in the top of the fourth, when Megan Chapman led off with a walk. But she was picked off during the next at-bat, and Teja Durante fouled out followed by a Kathryn Eberlin strikeout to shut down the Lady Eagles.
Crisante gave the Lady Flames a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the fourth, busting a one-out homer to center field. The solo bomb marked Crisante's eighth of the year. One out later, Strickland, who was named Big South Co-Player of the Year earlier in the week, followed suit, ripping a solo home run to right field for a 2-0 score.
The Lady Flames tried to add to their lead in the bottom of the fifth, putting runners on first and second with two outs. McMillon reached on a one-out base hit, a pop fly that second baseman Brittany Stoudemire lost in the sun. An out later, Ashley Bensinger singled to shortstop. But Jenny Law flied out to center for the third out, and the score remained unchanged.
Crisante kept swinging, and ripped another solo homer in the bottom of the sixth with a lined shot over the right field fence to give Liberty a three-run cushion.
Smith kept on rolling, shutting down the Lady Eagles in the top of the seventh to cement the win.
Crisante led the Lady Flames, going 2-for-3 with two home runs. The only base runners for Winthrop were Chapman and Eberlin, who each drew walks.
The Lady Flames will next face No. 6 Gardner-Webb at 12:30 p.m. The Runnin' Bulldogs are undefeated in the tournament, and Liberty needs to defeat them twice to advance to the championship game on Saturday.