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Liberty Set to Compete in Elon Invitational

February 9, 2012
|  Lynchburg, Va.
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Katie Zavodny led the Lady Flames with 26 stolen bases last season, the third most in a single season in program history.

Complete Game Notes

Defending Big South softball champion Liberty opens the 2012 season at the Elon Invitational, Friday through Sunday. The Lady Flames posted a 30-30 record last season, winning the conference championship for the second time (2002) and advancing to the NCAA Knoxville Regional. Liberty has been a regular contender in the Big South standings, qualifying for the conference championship game in three out of the last four seasons.

Liberty will meet host Elon on Friday to begin the 2012 campaign. The Phoenix went 30-24 last season, with a 12-12 record in the Southern Conference. The Lady Flames will face Georgetown of the Big East twice during the weekend, and will meet North Carolina Central for the first time. Liberty is 11-4 all-time against Elon and 2-0 versus Georgetown.

How to Follow the Lady Flames
Those unable to attend this weekend's games can follow the action through Gametracker, provided by the Liberty Athletics Communications Department. Live stats can be accessed through the Live Stats link on LibertyFlames.com.

Quick Hits
- Liberty head coach Paul Wetmore earned his 500th career victory, 4/20/11 vs. Norfolk St.

- The Lady Flames went 30-30 in 2011, winning the Big South Championship.

- Liberty is 12-13-1 all-time in season-openers, including 10-7-1 in its NCAA Division I era.

- Nine Lady Flames earned postseason conference honors last season.

- Kelly Strickland, the 2011 Big South Co-Player of the Year, earned Liberty's first-ever softball All-America award, being named to the Easton Fastpitch All-America squad.

- Liberty finished second in the preseason Big South softball poll, trailing Radford.

- The Lady Flames paced the Big South in eight offensive categories as a team last year.

- Liberty hit a conference-high 61 home runs last season, and has averaged nearly one home run per game over the last two seasons.

- Elon is the first of 10 Liberty opponents this season to earn 30 wins during 2011.

Liberty vs. Elon
All-Time Series:
Liberty leads, 11-4
Current Streak: Liberty W1
Last Meeting: Liberty 5, Elon 2 (03/05/05 in Greenville, N.C.)
Last Elon Victory: Elon 5, Liberty 0 (04/30/03 at Elon)
Series at Elon: Liberty leads, 5-1
Last Liberty Victory at Elon: Liberty 2, Elon 1 (04/30/03)

Elon went 30-24 last season, including a 12-12 mark in the SoCon.The Phoenix return three all-conference players from a year ago, in Tomeka Watson, Carleigh Nester and Kaitlyn Piazzolla. Elon was voted to finish sixth in the SoCon coaches' poll.

Liberty meets former Big South Conference opponent Elon for the first time since March 5, 2005. Friday's game will be the Lady Flames' first visit to Elon since April 30, 2003, a doubleheader split between the two teams. Liberty went 7-4 against the Phoenix during Elon's five-year stay in the Big South (1999-2003).

The Lady Flames are 24-43 all-time against 2012 members of the SoCon. Liberty went 0-3 vs. SoCon teams last year, falling to UNCG and Chattanooga.

Liberty vs. Georgetown
All-Time Series:
Liberty leads, 2-0
Current Streak: Liberty W2
Last Meeting: Liberty 10, Georgetown 2 (03/31/07)

Georgetown posted a 13-40 record a season ago, going 6-12 in Big East play for head coach Pat Conlan. Senior Mackensey Carter is a three-time All-Big East selection.

The Lady Flames compete against Georgetown twice this weekend. Liberty swept Georgetown, 10-1 and 10-2, in March of 2007 in Lynchburg. Liberty hit four home runs in the 10-1 win over Georgetown, getting two each from Jessica Moore and Dawn Jeffs.

Liberty is 6-11 all-time against Big East teams. The Lady Flames met Notre Dame at the College of Charleston Cougar Classic, Feb. 27, 2011, falling 6-4. Liberty's last win over a Big East opponent was a 3-0 victory against Rutgers, March 13, 2009.

Liberty vs. N.C. Central
All-Time Series:
First meeting

North Carolina Central registered a 7-37 ledger last year, and will compete in the MEAC this year. Theresa Stephens begins her first season as head coach of the Eagles.

Liberty meets North Carolina Central for the first time in program history. In the Lady Flames' 18 years as a Division I program, they have faced 176 different opponents, going 75-101 all-time when facing a team for the first time. This season, Liberty meets five teams for the first time in program history.

The Lady Flames hold a 96-16 record over MEAC schools, including a 4-0 mark last season. In Liberty's last meeting against a MEAC team, April 20, 2011, the Lady Flames won, 7-1 over Norfolk State, giving head coach Paul Wetmore his 500th career win.

Season Opening
Liberty is 12-13-1 all-time in softball season openers, including a 10-7-1 mark in the NCAA Division I era. The Lady Flames have faced 25 different opponents in their 26 season openers. The only team that Liberty has opened two seasons against is Hampton, who the Lady Flames defeated to open the 1997 and 1998 seasons.

The Lady Flames have gone 0-3-1 in their last four season openers, with their last season-opening win coming Feb. 17, 2007, a 5-3 victory over Appalachian State. A 2-2 tie against Tennessee Tech, the second tie in program history, led off the 2008 season.

This will be the 11th time since 1994 that the Lady Flames has begun a season in the state of North Carolina, more times than in any other state. Liberty opened each year, from 1999-2007, in North Carolina. The Lady Flames are 6-4 in season openers held in North Carolina.

500th Win
Liberty head coach Paul Wetmore became the first Liberty coach to reach 500 victories, in any sport, thanks to a 7-1 win over Norfolk State April 20, 2011. Wetmore, in his 19th season, is the third Big South softball coach to amass 500 career wins.

Coach Wetmore has been at the helm ever since 1994, when the program restarted after a seven year layoff. He has led the Lady Flames to nine 30-win seasons, six appearances in the conference championship game, two Big South titles, and two appearances in the NCAA Regionals.

Championship Memories
Liberty entered the 2011 Big South Softball Championship as the No. 2 seed. After falling to Winthrop in the opening round, the Lady Flames won four straight games, capped by a 3-1 win over top-seeded Radford in the title contest to claim its first title since 2002.

The Lady Flames posted a 0.80 team ERA during the tournament, earning a pair of shutouts. Tiffani Smith earned Tournament MVP honors after throwing a no-hitter against host Winthrop, May 13.

Sammi Shivock hit two game-winning home runs, one against Gardner-Webb and another in the final against Radford. Meredith Crisante went yard twice on May 13 at Winthrop. Both Shivock and Crisante both earned All-Tournament honors.

Liberty qualified for the NCAA Softball Championship Knoxville Regional, where the Lady Flames faced No. 5 Tennessee and No. 19 Georgia Tech. The team led Georgia Tech, 2-1, going into the bottom of the fifth inning on May 21, before the Yellow Jackets rallied to down Liberty, 4-3.

Comeback Kids
Liberty dealt with adversity well in 2011. After dropping its first conference tournament contest, the Lady Flames won four straight elimination games to claim the championship.

Earlier in the season, on April 16, Liberty trailed Gardner-Webb, 8-1, with two outs and nobody on in the top of the seventh inning. The Lady Flames scored seven runs to tie the game and then won, 11-8, with three tallies in the eighth inning.