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Lady Flames to Open Big South Play at Radford, Wednesday

March 19, 2013  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Liberty softball opens its 2013 conference schedule at Radford on Wednesday.

Liberty softball opens its 2013 conference schedule at Radford on Wednesday.

Complete Game Notes

The Liberty softball team (11-11) opens conference play against Commonwealth rival Radford (7-14) for the fourth season in a row, as the Lady Flames travel to face the Highlanders at RU Softball Field on Wednesday at 4 p.m. Interestingly, Liberty and Radford both competed at the USF Spring Invitational in Clearwater, Fla., over the weekend.

Season at a Glance
Liberty went 6-4 over its southern Spring Break trip, including 3-2 at the USF Spring Invitational. After falling to UCF, Iowa State and USF, Liberty won its last three games, including two on Saturday in walk-off fashion. On Sunday, the Lady Flames recorded a season-high 15 hits, including eight extra-base hits, in a 10-4 win over Dartmouth.

The Lady Flames hit .270 as a team, scoring 4.8 runs per game. Katie Zavodny (.397)is on a 14-game hitting streak and is first in the nation with 1.05 steals per game. Sammi Shivock bats .371 with a team-high 17 RBIs, while Amber Donovan (.365) has 11 RBIs.

How to Follow the Lady Flames
Fans can follow Wednesday's game through Gametracker, provided by the Liberty Athletics Communications office. Also, a live radio broadcast will be available on 90.9 FM The Light and at, with Nick Pierce calling the action. The game will also be available for online viewing, for a small charge, through the Big South Network.

Quick Hits
- Liberty opens up conference play against Radford for the fourth season in a row.
- The Lady Flames recorded a season-high 15 hits against Dartmouth, Sunday (W, 10-4).
- Liberty won twice in walk-off fashion on Saturday (GW: walk vs. Temple, error vs. Maine).
- Katie Zavodny is on a career-best 14-game hitting streak, hitting .467 during that span.
- Zavodny ranks No. 1 nationally with 1.05 stolen bases per game.
- Amber Donovan hit .435 with nine RBIs over Liberty's last 10 games.
- Kelby Allen and Hanna Nichols both had two extra-base hits versus Dartmouth.
- Liberty is 7-12 all-time in Big South openers (last Big South-opening win was in 2008).
- The Lady Flames' roster includes 9 freshmen, 6 sophomores and 7 juniors.

Liberty vs. Radford
Radford (7-14), the four-time defending Big South regular season champion, opened the season with a 3-13 record, but went 4-1 at the USF Spring Invitational this past weekend. First-year head coach Maggie Johnson's roster includes nine freshmen. Two-time Big South Pitcher of the Year Jackie Jenkins returns, although Allie Reid leads the team with a 3.62 ERA. Becky Mantel (.309) paces Radford with 14 runs scored, while Morgan Eye (.306) has stolen 11 bases and Jessie Hutchens (.258) has driven in 13 runs.

The Highlanders hold a 43-25 edge in the all-time series with Liberty, including a sweep of the 2012 season series. The Lady Flames, however, downed Radford, 3-1, in the final of the 2011 Big South Championship in Rock Hill, S.C., to claim their second conference tournament title.

Liberty vs. Radford - 2012 Recap
Radford won all three games against Liberty in 2012, including a 6-3 win on March 21 in Lynchburg and a doubleheader sweep at Radford one week later, March 28.

A pair of homers during the fifth inning gave Liberty a 3-2 lead on March 21, but the Highlanders responded with four runs in the top of the sixth to gain the victory, 6-3.

Jill Stephens hit a leadoff homer in game one at Radford, March 28, 2012. The Highlanders then scored seven runs in the second inning on the way to a 9-1 win.

In game two, Liberty's Alyssa DiMartino went the distance in a 10-inning, 4-3 Radford victory, with Nichole Beall stealing home for the winning run in the 10th frame.

Conference Openers
Liberty softball is 7-12 in conference openers since starting competition in the Big South in 1994.

Liberty opens the conference schedule against Radford for the fifth time, and fourth year in a row. The Lady Flames' most recent conference-opening victory came April 4, 2008 against Birmingham Southern.

In last year's conference opener, March 20, 2012 Radford rallied from a 3-2 deficit to defeat Liberty, 6-3, scoring four runs in the top of the sixth inning at Liberty Softball Field.

Weekly Recap
Liberty posted a 3-3 record last week in Florida, falling to 2012 NCAA Tournament participant UCF before going 3-2 at the USF Spring Invitational. The Lady Flames' time in Clearwater, Fla., began with losses to Iowa State and 2012 Women's College World Series team USF, and ended with three straight wins over Temple, Maine and Dartmouth.

On Saturday, Liberty defeated Temple, 6-5, in eight innings, scoring the final run on a bases-loaded walk to Grace Nordan. Later that same day, the Lady Flames scored four runs in the bottom of the seventh to defeat Maine, 4-3.

In Liberty's most recent game, on Sunday, the Lady Flames recorded a season-high 15 hits, including eight for extra bases, in a 10-4 win over Dartmouth.

Zavodny Races Into National Lead in Stolen Bases
Zavodny is the conference and national leader in steals, having stolen 23 bases in 22 games played this season, already the fifth-most stolen bases by a Liberty softball player in a single season. She is ranked first in the NCAA Division I national stolen bases listing, at 1.05 steals per game.

She stole 26 bases as a freshman, and is the only player in program history with two 20-steal seasons in her career. Zavodny is on pace to break Liberty's single-season program record for stolen bases, 39, set by Stacy Radulovich in 1996.

Walk (Off) This Way
Liberty won both of its games on Saturday on the final pitch. The Lady Flames defeated Temple, 6-5, rallying for two runs in the bottom of the ninth, including a literal walk-off game winner, when Grace Nordan walked with the bases loaded for the winning run.

The Lady Flames then rallied from a 3-0 deficit, with a four-run rally in the seventh inning to defeat Maine. Liberty scored the tying and winning runs in the bottom of the seventh, when Maine's third baseman dropped a popup that would have been the third out.

Earlier this season, Nordan hit a walk-off, two-run homer in a 9-8, eight-inning win over Fairfield on Feb. 22.

Liberty recorded a season-high 15 hits on Sunday in a 10-4 win over Dartmouth, registering eight extra-base hits. Liberty's eight extra-base hits were its most since April 19, 2011, when the team hit three doubles and six homers in a 16-3 win over Hampton.

Kelby Allen hit a triple and a homer, while Hanna Nichols doubled and homered. The Lady Flames got a triple from Katie Han, and doubles by Kassidy McCoy, Sammi Shivock and Jill Stephens
The Lady Flames have scored four runs in the seventh inning of each of their last two games, wins over Maine and Dartmouth.

14 in a Row
Katie Zavodny is hitting .467 (21-for-45) with 17 stolen bases during her current 14-game hitting streak, the longest hitting streak by a Lady Flame since Ashley Bensinger's 15-game hitting streak in 2011.

Last 10
Liberty went 6-4 during its recently-completed southern Spring Break Trip, scoring five runs per contest while also averaging 2.1 extra-base hits per game

During the last 10 games, Amber Donovan is hitting .435 with three doubles, two homers, nine RBIs and eight runs scored, while Katie Zavodny is batting .400 with 10 stolen bases and six runs scored. In that same span, Megan Robinson hit .375 with nine runs scored and Sammi Shivock batted .344 with four doubles and seven RBIs.