Complete Game Notes The Liberty softball team (4-5) caps its 11-day trip to Florida this weekend, competing in the Aquafina Invitational, hosted by Florida. The Lady Flames face Illinois State (4-6) at 1:30 p.m. Friday, before meeting defending national champion No. 1/1 Florida Gators (11-0) at 6:15 p.m. Liberty faces Mercer (6-4) and 2014 NCAA Regional participant Kansas (10-0), Saturday.
The Lady Flames are 0-1 all-time against Kansas, and will meet Florida, Illinois State and Mercer for the first time. Lady Flames at a Glance Liberty went 3-2 at the Dot Richardson Invitational this past weekend in Clermont, Fla., shutting out Cleveland State and UMass Lowell while downing Arkansas, 5-2, for the first win over an SEC team in program history.
The Lady Flames have averaged five runs and two stolen bases per game so far, as Blair Lawrence and Tori Zavodny have stolen seven bases each. Zavodny and Kelby Allen both have hit .400, while Mickey Loveridge (.333) leads the team with nine RBI. Redshirt junior Chandler Ball (3-2, 4.67 ERA) pitched a pair of four-hit shutouts last weekend.
How to Follow the Lady Flames Fans can follow all of Liberty's games at the Aquafina Invitational this weekend through live stats. Liberty's games against Florida, Illinois State and Kansas will be available through live audio broadcasts from each respective opponent. Links will appear on LibertyFlames.com.
Quick Hits - Liberty will face the defending national champion for the second season in a row, as the Lady Flames faced 2013 national champion Oklahoma on March 7, 2014. - R-Jr. Chandler Ball pitched four-hit shutouts over Cleveland State, UML, last weekend. Ball was named Big South Pitcher of the Week on Tuesday. - The Lady Flames open the brand-new, 1,000-seat Liberty Softball Stadium this season. - Three Lady Flames (Allen, Crisp, Zavodny) have registered a three-hit game this year. - Sr. C Kelby Allen is tied for eighth in program history with 96 career RBI. - Fr. RHP Abby Tincher pitched CG in first career start, downing Arkansas, 5-2, on Friday. - Sr. OF Jamie Crisp hit game-winning home run against UMass Lowell, Sunday. - Jr. OF Blair Lawrence is ranked seventh in program history with 37 career stolen bases. - Fr. OF Tori Zavodny has stolen two bases on three occasions this season. - Nearly half (8 out of 17) of the roster consists of newcomers (seven Fr., one JC transfer). - Four newcomers started in the season opener, for first time since 2008.
Liberty vs. Illinois State (First Meeting) Illinois State is off to a 4-6 start, having faced five nationally-ranked teams so far. 2014 All-MVC first-teamer Regan Romshek leads the Redbirds with a .419 average. Jordan de los Reyes, named to the 2014 All-MVC first team, has hit .387 with six homers and 14 RBI.
Liberty is 2-0 all-time against MVC opponents, defeating Indiana State and Loyola Chicago once each.
Liberty vs. No. 1/1 Florida (First Meeting) Defending national champion No. 1/1 Florida is 11-0, outscoring opponents 87-10. Reigning SEC Pitcher of the Week Lauren Haeger leads the Gators with a .464 average and 12 RBI while also going 5-0 with no runs allowed in 23.0 innings pitched. Haeger and Kelsey Stewart were both named NFCA All-America first team selections in 2014.
Liberty is 1-0 this season against SEC opponents, defeating Arkansas, 5-2, on Friday. Later this season, the Lady Flames will play at South Carolina on March 5.
Liberty vs. Mercer (First Meeting) Mercer, 2014 Atlantic Sun runner-up, enters the week with a 6-4 record, defeating Winthrop of the Big South, 10-4, in its last game to date. Taylor Miller has hit .500, while Natalie Silver (.478) has hit three homers and driven in 11 runs.
Liberty is 9-12 all-time against current members of the Atlantic Sun Conference. The Lady Flames' last win over at A-Sun team was March 12, 2011, a 4-0 win at Stetson.
Liberty vs. Kansas (Series: Kansas leads, 1-0) Kansas has tied its fastest start to a season, at 10-0. The Jayhawks are receiving votes in the latest national polls. Maddie Stein bats .448, while 2014 NFCA All-Region selection Chaley Brickey has hit .379. Alicia Pille is 5-0 with a 1.89 ERA.
Kansas won its only previous meeting with Liberty, downing the Lady Flames, 6-0, on Feb. 19, 2000 in Chapel Hill, N.C.
Top 25 Challenge The Liberty softball team has competed against top 25 programs 48 times in program history, posting a 6-42 record versus nationally-ranked opponents. Liberty opened the 2015 season on Feb. 6 with an 8-0 setback to No. 23/23 South Alabama.
In 2007, Liberty knocked off No. 23 Hawai'i, No. 10 Baylor and No. 6 Michigan. The Lady Flames' 2-0 win over No. 6 Michigan, March 24, 2007, marks the highest-ranked team that Liberty has beaten in softball, and the team's most recent victory over a nationally-ranked team. The last time Liberty faced the No. 1 team was March 26, 2007, when the Lady Flames fell twice at then top-ranked Tennessee, 5-1 and 4-0. Last year, Liberty went 0-2 against ranked competition, falling to both No. 20/21 Tulsa and No. 19/13 and 2013 national champion Oklahoma on March 7, 2014 in Norman, Okla.
Make a Wish At last week's Dot Richardson Invitational, the Lady Flames welcomed a special friend into the Liberty Softball family. Through the Make-a-Wish Foundation, 10-year-old Ryleigh Patience from Independence, Mo., got to meet head coach and softball legend Dot Richardson. Ryleigh, who suffers from Hurler's Syndrome, served at the Lady Flames' batgirl for all five games at the Dot Richardson Invitational. She threw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to Liberty's 3-0 win over Cleveland State on Friday. Ball Named Big South Pitcher of the Week Redshirt junior Chandler Ball was named Big South Pitcher of the Week on Tuesday, becoming the first Lady Flame since Katrina Johnson on May 10, 2010 to be voted Pitcher of the Week.
Ball went 2-1 with a 2.47 ERA in four appearances at the Dot Richardson Invitational. She pitched four-hit shutouts against both Cleveland State and UMass Lowell, her second and third career shutouts. Ball is the first Liberty pitcher to throw multiple shutouts in the same season since 2011, when Tiffani Smith threw three shutouts and Johnson had two.
Good First Impression Freshman RHP Abby Tincher made her first career start last Friday against Arkansas, and pitched a complete game as Liberty downed the Razorbacks, 5-2. She allowed two runs on five hits, walking six and striking out five.
Tincher is the first Lady Flame to throw a complete-game victory in her first career start since Dana Wheeler pitched all seven innings in a 14-1 win over Rhode Island, March 3, 2007.
Off and Running Liberty is off and running again this season, leading the Big South with an average of two stolen bases per game. Junior Blair Lawrence, who swiped 20 bases last year, and freshman Tori Zavodny, are tied for first in the conference with seven steals apiece. The Lady Flames led the Big South and ranked 23rd nationally with 92 stolen bases last season. The program record of 93 was set in 1996.
Run Producing Junior Mickey Loveridge leads the Lady Flames with nine RBI so far this season. She is also tied for the team lead with three doubles. Last Friday against South Dakota State, Loveridge celebrated her birthday by hitting a two-run inside-the-park home run during the first inning. It was the first inside-the-park home run by a Lady Flame since Katie Zavodny did so on Feb. 15, 2014 versus Norfolk State, in Dot Richardson's first collegiate coaching victory.
Strong Start Freshman Tori Zavodny and senior Kelby Allen share the team lead in batting average, at .400. Allen is tied with freshman Alexia Taylor for the Lady Flames' highest on base percentage, at .467.
Zavodny leads the team with nine runs scored and a .760 slugging percentage, and her two triples pace the Big South. Junior Mickey Loveridge bats .333 with a team-best nine RBI, while Taylor hits .304.
3-Hit Club So far this year, Tori Zavodny has posted two three-hit games, while seniors Kelby Allen and Jamie Crisp have registered three hits in one game apiece. Allen leads current Lady Flames with seven career three-hit games. The other current Lady Flames to post a three-hit game during their time at Liberty are: Megan Robinson (3), Crisp (2), Katie Han (2), Kassidy McCoy (2) and Blair Lawrence.
Move Along Freshman Alexia Taylor has reached base safely in all nine of Liberty's contests so far this year, and is tied for the team lead with a .467 on base percentage. Junior Mickey Loveridge has the longest current hitting streak of any Lady Flame, at four games.
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