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Liberty Falls to Radford, 4-3, in 10 Innings
Liberty and Radford battled through 10 innings of softball, before Nichole Beall scored the winning run, allowing the Highlanders to sweep the Big South doubleheader with a 4-3 game two victory, Wednesday at Radford Softball Field.
The Highlanders advance to 16-8, 3-0 in Big South play with their eighth win in a row, sweeping the season series from Liberty. The Lady Flames fall to 9-17, as their Big South record evens to 3-3.
Both teams saw bases-loaded rallies halted in the seventh inning, pushing the game to extra innings.
Alyssa DiMartino (6-11) went the distance for Liberty, allowing three runs on seven hits over nine innings. Meredith Crisante went 1-for-4, with a two-run single in the first inning, while five additional Lady Flames recorded hits. Sammi Shivock, Kelby Allen and Katie Zavodny scored one run apiece for Liberty.
Jackie Jenkins (6-2) pitched the final five innings, yielding two hits and no runs for host Radford. Highlander Jackie Warr went 3-for-3 in the contest, while teammate Nichole Beall scored two runs and Vicki Madden drove in a pair.
As was the case in game one, the Lady Flames scored during the first inning. Shivock singled to left with one out. Allen followed with a single. A groundout advanced both runners into scoring position at second and third. Crisante then connected on a two-run single, giving the Lady Flames a 2-0 lead.
Nichole Beall belted her team-leading sixth home run of the year to open the bottom the first. The Highlander shortstop ripped the first pitch she saw over the fence, slicing the Radford's deficit to 2-1. DiMartino walked the next batter Micalah Sacre, but got the next three batters to ground out to end the first stanza.
Emily Norton posted two strikeouts in a 1-2-3 Liberty second inning. Warr singled to lead off the bottom of the second inning, but was left on base at the conclusion of the stanza.
The Radford righthander set down 10 Lady Flames in a row after Crisante's first-inning RBI base hit. DiMartino settled in as well, retiring six straight Highlanders to protect Liberty's lead during the second and third innings.
Radford took its first lead of the game, at 3-2, on a two-run double by Madden in the bottom of the fourth inning. Jessie Hutchens walked to open the frame. Warr singled, and then Madden drove in both runners with her double.
Jenny Law reached base on a bunt single to start the fourth inning, and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. Norton walked Jill Stephens intentionally. Shivock then grounded out to the pitcher, leaving the score at 3-2 through four and a half innings.
Liberty tied the game, 3-3, with a run in the fifth inning. After Allen was hit by a pitch, Amber Donovan drew a walk, and both runners advanced a base on a sacrifice bunt by Crisante. Kaylee West drove in pinch runner Zavodny with a groundout, tying the game at 3-3.
Following a scoreless Radford half of the sixth, the Lady Flames received a two-out base runner, when Stephens singled to center. Shivock then drew a walk, and Liberty loaded the bases on an error. However, Jenkins escaped the inning by striking out Donovan for the third out.
The first two Highlanders reached base in the bottom of the seventh and proceed to load the bases. However, Hutchens grounded into a 1-2-3 inning-ending double play, sending the game to extra innings.
Both teams had eighth-inning base runners, but neither team scored.
After the Lady Flames and Highlanders both went in order in the ninth inning, the international tiebreaker went in effect.
Shivock was placed on second to start the 10th frame and was left on third as Liberty's next three batters were retired.
Radford had runners on second and third with nobody out in the bottom of the 10th. After DiMartino walked Michelle Beall, Nichole Beall danced off third, and ended up stealing home on a close play to give the host Highlanders the win.
The Lady Flames return home, where they will play their next 10 games. Liberty hosts Winthrop in a Big South weekend series, Friday and Saturday. Friday's doubleheader is set to begin at 4 p.m. at Liberty Softball Field.