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Liberty Blanks Gardner-Webb, 4-0, for 1st Conference Win
The Liberty softball team earned a 4-0 shutout victory over Gardner-Webb, pounding out 11 hits and shutting down the Runnin' Bulldogs for its first conference win of the season, Saturday at Varsity Field.
The Lady Flames (7-15) ended an 11-game winless streak, evening their conference record to 1-1 with a victory in game one of Saturday's doubleheader. Gardner-Webb is now 13-16 on the season, with an 0-1 record in Big South play.
Chandler Ball and Alyssa DiMartino combined to pitch a six-hit shutout, Liberty's first shutout win of the season. Ball pitched the first three scoreless innings, while DiMartino (4-10) struck out a career-high five batters in finishing the contest.
Sammi Shivock went 3-for-4, tying a career high for base hits, and scored a run. Meredith Crisante and Jenny Law both earned two hits. Law, Shivock, Kaylee West and Kelly Strickland all drove in one run apiece for the Lady Flames.
McKenzie Morenus registered half of Gardner-Webb's hits, going 3-for-3, while Melinda Dulkowski hit 2-for-3. Jessica Childers (2-5) went the distance, allowing four runs on 11 hits and striking out six.
The Lady Flames struck first, scoring one run in the first inning. They loaded the bases with one out, on a Shivock single and two walks. West drove in Shivock with a two-out infield single, giving Liberty a 1-0 lead. Childers then recorded a strikeout to end the threat.
Ball fanned the first two Gardner-Webb batters of the game, and Shivock recorded an assist on the inning-ending groundout.
Liberty added to its advantage with a run during the top of the second. Bridgett Woods singled with one out, and scored on a base hit by Shivock. Allen then sent a single to left, and Childers struck out Amber Donovan for the third out.
Gardner-Webb earned a pair of base hits in the bottom of the second, but neither runner crossed the plate, leaving the score at 2-0.
Meredith Crisante doubled to lead off the third frame, and went to third on a sacrifice bunt. An unfortunate bounce on hard ground ball to third, led to Crisante being thrown out at home. Liberty's lead remained at two runs.
DiMartino came on in relief of Ball in the fourth inning. Morenus and Jane Savage singled, giving the hosts runners on first and second. Dulkowski shot a line drive into DiMartino's glove, ending the fourth stanza.
Donovan drew a leadoff walk in the fifth, and Crisante reached on a fielder's choice. West moved the runners up one base apiece with a sacrifice bunt. Law drove in pinch runner Marybeth Sciolino, good for a 3-0 edge. Childers worked out of the inning with a strikeout.
The Runnin' Bulldogs threatened to score in the bottom of the sixth, putting runners on second and third with two outs. DiMartino struck out Savage, quelling the rally to send the game into the seventh inning with a 3-0 score.
Liberty then added an insurance run on a two-out RBI base hit by Kelly Strickland, and took a 4-0 lead into the bottom of the seventh inning.
Dulkowski singled to open the bottom of the seventh, but DiMartino struck out the next two Runnin' Bulldogs, and a lineout to third ended the contest.
Game two is under way between Liberty and Gardner-Webb.