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Liberty Falls to Radford, 6-3, in Conference Opener
Liberty and Radford met in the opener to the 2012 Big South softball schedule, with the visiting Highlanders prevailing, 6-3, Wednesday at Liberty Softball Field, thanks in part to a four-run sixth inning.
The two teams met in a rematch of the 2011 Big South Softball Championship final game, which Liberty won, 3-1, on May 14 in Rock Hill, S.C.
On Wednesday, the Highlanders (13-8, 1-0 Big South) recorded 10 hits in winning their fifth game in a row. The Lady Flames are now 6-13, including 0-1 in conference play after their ninth straight setback.
The Lady Flames battled back for a 3-2 lead with three runs in the fifth, but Radford scored four times during its next time to bat, earning the winning margin.
Meredith Crisante went 2-for-3 with one double, one homer and two RBIs, while Kaylee West added a fifth-inning solo home run for the Lady Flames. Liberty posted seven total hits, including two doubles and two homers. Amber Donovan registered her team-leading sixth double of the season. Alyssa DiMartino (3-10) drew the loss, allowing six runs, two earned, in five and two-third innings.
For Radford, Jackie Warr batted 3-for-4 with two runs scored, while Jessie Hutchens added two hits and Nichole Beall had two runs. Jackie Jenkins (5-2) earned the win, allowing three runs on seven hits.
Three pitches by DiMartino produced three outs in the top of the first, as Radford grounded out twice and flied out once. The Lady Flames went in order as well, leaving the scoreboard unchanged through one inning.
The first two Highlanders reached base in the top of the second inning. With runners on second and third and two outs, DiMartino got Morgan Eye to foul out to West, ending Radford's second time at bat.
Allen led off the bottom of the second with a single, and went to second on a groundout, where she was left at the end of the stanza.
DiMartino worked out of a one-out, bases-loaded jam in the third inning, as Radford closed the scoreless frame with a strikeout and groundout.
Following a 1-2-3 Flames third, Radford went ahead, 1-0, with a run during the top of the fourth. Warr singled and stole second to open the fourth. She ended up scoring on an error while stealing third base on the ensuing pitch.
In the top of the fifth, Radford added to its lead. Beall hit a leadoff double to right and crossed the plate when Micalah Sacre registered an RBI single down the left field line. DiMartino limited the damage, and the score read 2-0 Highlanders after four and a half innings.
The Lady Flames claimed the lead with three runs on two homers in the bottom of the fifth. West led off with a solo home run. Her first homer of the season sliced the deficit in half, to 2-1. Donovan doubled to right with two outs, and Liberty took a 3-2 lead when Crisante sent a homer over the left field fence.
Warr doubled as the first Radford batter of the sixth inning. She went to third on a sacrifice bunt, and scored on a sacrifice fly by Hannah Ojeda, tying the game at 3-all. The Highlanders reclaimed the lead, 5-3, when two runs scored on an error with two outs. Hutchens drove home Radford's sixth run with a double, before Chandler Ball came in and recorded the final out for the Lady Flames.
Liberty came to bat in the bottom of the seventh inning needing three runs to extend the game. Kelly Strickland reached on an error, and then Crisante lashed a double to left center. Radford held on for the 6-3 win, leaving two Lady Flame runners on at the end of the game.
The Lady Flames remain at home, where they will face Cornell tomorrow, in a doubleheader that begins at 2 p.m. at Liberty Softball Field.