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Virginia Edges Lady Flames, 6-5
The Liberty softball team claimed a 4-3 lead midway through Wednesday's first contest at Virginia, before the Cavaliers responded with a three-run fourth inning for a 6-5 win over the Lady Flames at The Park.
Liberty dropped to 17-28 on the season with the one-run setback, while Virginia moved to 22-23.
The Lady Flames hit two homers, with Bridgett Woods and Kelly Strickland both slugging solo shots. Strickland's homer was the 44th of her career, tying her with Ashley Williams for second place all-time at Liberty. Strickland and Kelby Allen both drove in two runs.
Virginia connected for nine hits, with three players registering two hits apiece. Stephanie Harris hit a three-run homer for the Cavaliers.
Stephanie Coates (2-1) picked up the win, allowing five runs on five hits before Melanie Mitchell earned her first save of the season with a scoreless seventh inning.
Alyssa DiMartino (8-17) drew the loss, yielding six runs on seven hits in four innings pitched.
The Cavaliers stormed ahead with a three-run first inning. Alex Skinkis singled with one out, and Erica Cipolloni drew a walk. Stephanie Harris slugged a two-out, three-run homer to left center to give the hosts a 3-0 lead.
Jill Stephens drew a leadoff walk in the top of the second, and moved up a base on a sacrifice bunt by Strickland. With Stephens on third, Coates fanned Kaylee West for the third out.
Following a 1-2-3 Virginia second inning, Woods led off the third inning with a solo home run. The next three Lady Flames were retired on flyouts, and Virginia's lead stood at 3-1 after two and a half innings.
DiMartino kept the Cavaliers off the scoreboard in the bottom of the third inning, getting Harris to ground out with two runners on base and two outs.
The Lady Flames claimed the lead with a three-run fourth inning. Strickland hit a two-out solo home run. Coates then walked the bases loaded for Allen, who sent a two-run single to center for a 4-3 Liberty lead.
Virginia regained the lead with a two-out rally of its own during the bottom of the fourth. Giannina Cipolloni hit a game-tying RBI double with two on and two outs. Skinkis gave the Cavaliers a 6-4 lead by singling to drive in a pair. A groundout ended the threat.
Liberty's first two batters reached in the fifth inning, on an error and a bunt base hit. A sacrifice bunt by Stephens sent Sammi Shivock to third and Crisante to second. Strickland plated Shivock with a groundout to second, slicing the deficit to one, 6-5.
Ball relieved DiMartino following a leadoff walk in the bottom of the fifth. The Cavaliers had runners on second and third with one out, but Woods made two fine defensive plays to leave the score 6-5 through five innings.
A scoreless sixth inning ensued, bringing the Lady Flames to bat for the final time.
Mitchell entered the circle in the top of the seventh, and walked leadoff batter Jenny Law. She then retired the final three Liberty batters, including two on strikeouts, to earn the save.