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Liberty Softball to Open 2017 Season at Dot Richardson Invitational

February 8, 2017  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Complete Game Notes

The Liberty softball team begins the 2017 season at the Dot Richardson Invitational, held at the National Training Center in Clermont, Fla. The Lady Flames will face Chattanooga and Fairleigh Dickinson twice each, while taking on Morgan State on Sunday.

Prior to the Lady Flames' departure, LFSN reporter Nick Pierce interviewed fourth-year Head Coach Dot Richardson for a season preview.

This is Liberty's third straight year to compete in the Dot Richardson Invitational. The Lady Flames are 5-4 all-time at the invitational, including 2-2 last season.

Lady Flames at a Glance
Liberty went 31-28 in 2016, its first winning season since 2010. The Lady Flames also posted a program-record 16 conference victories, going 16-8 in Big South play and finishing third in the league standings.

Fourth-year Head Coach Dot Richardson welcomes seven freshmen to a talented roster. Outfielder Jaclyn Amader was named to the Big South All-Conference second team and VaSID All-State first team as a freshman, while Tori Zavodny is a two-time all-conference outfielder. 2015 Big South Freshman of the Year Alexia Taylor returns, as does 2016 Big South All-Freshman team member Sarah Robertson.

In the circle, Julia DiMartino was named to the Big South All-Conference first team and all-state second team as a freshman in 2016 after setting program freshman records in wins, shutouts, no-hitters (tied) and strikeouts. Sophomore Chase Cassady went 8-9 and ranked 34th in the nation in strikeouts per seven innings last season.

How to Follow the Lady Flames
Fans can follow all of Liberty's games this week at the Dot Richardson Invitational through StatBroadcast live stats, courtesy of Liberty Athletics Communications.

Quick Hits
- Liberty Softball begins its 24th year of Division I play, and fourth under Dot Richardson.
- Liberty is 12-18-1 in season openers, including 10-12-1 in its NCAA Division I era.
- Liberty led the Big South with a program single-season-record 377 strikeouts in 2016.
- Liberty Softball Stadium was voted sixth-best softball stadium by FloSoftball.com.
- Julia DiMartino led the conference in both shutouts (7) and strikeouts (187) last year.
- Alexia Taylor's 119 career hits are third-most by a Liberty player through sophomore year.
- Tori Zavodny needs one more steal to enter Liberty's all-time top five.
- Last year, 10 freshmen made at least one start, including five in the season opener.
- Jaclyn Amader led team with a .315 average, five three-hit games in 2016.
- Lady Flames Chase Cassady, Sarah Robertson and Alexia Taylor will all open the season in their home state of Florida. Cassady and Taylor grew up in the Orlando area.

Liberty vs. Chattanooga
Series Record:
Chattanooga leads, 8-0
Last Meeting: Chattanooga 3, Liberty 1 (Feb. 12, 2016 - Clermont, Fla.)

Chattanooga went 30-29 last season after winning its first eight games on the campaign. The team posted its 20th 30-win season in the last 21 campaigns. The Mocs are in their 16th year under the direction of six-time SoCon Coach of the Year Frank Reed.

Sophomore Jordan Fortel was named to the 2016 All-SoCon second team after hitting .328 with eight homers and 36 RBI. Amanda Beltran returns after earning second team all-conference a year ago, batting .322 with eight homers and 29 RBI.

Last year, Chattanooga's Cori Jennings tossed a two-hitter in a 3-1 win over Liberty.

Liberty vs. Fairleigh Dickinson
Series Record:
Liberty leads, 2-0 (Swept doubleheader, March 19, 2002)
Last Meeting: Liberty 7, Fairleigh Dickinson 2 (March 19, 2002 - Lynchburg, Va.)

Fairleigh Dickinson posted a 12-34 record last season, finishing seventh in the NEC at 5-11 after dropping its last seven games. KJ Kelley enters her second season at the helm.

Sophomore Reanna Cervantes is FDU's top hitter, batting .331 with six homers and 30 RBI as a freshman. Classmate Kellie Natham returns after hitting .297 with five homers and 25 RBI in 2016.

Liberty swept the Knights in a doubleheader, March 19, 2002 in Lynchburg. Later that spring, the Lady Flames went on to win their first Big South softball title.

Liberty vs. Morgan State
Series Record:
Liberty leads, 3-2 (Current streak: Liberty W2)
Last Meeting: Liberty 11, Morgan State 1 (Feb. 13, 2016 - Clermont, Fla.)
Last Morgan State Win: Morgan State 3, Liberty 1 (March 2, 2001 - Hampton, Va.)

Morgan State is coming off of a year that saw the Bears go 13-28 with an 8-8 conference record. The Bears were ranked fifth in the nation with 2.44 stolen bases per game.

Senior Audrianna Alvarez returns after batting .365 with four homers and 23 RBI. Sophomore Damali Young hit .328 and added a team-high 30 stolen bases in 2016. Senior Korynna Lara had MSU's third-best average last year, at .295.

Liberty downed Morgan State, 11-1, on Feb. 13, 2016, the Lady Flames' first win of the season. Chase Cassady earned her first career win, tossing nine strikeouts, while Tori Zavodny recorded three hits.

Season Opening
Liberty is 12-18-1 all-time in softball season openers, including a 10-12-1 mark in the NCAA Division I era (since 1994).

This will be the third time in program history that the Lady Flames will open a season in Florida, and second year in a row.

The Lady Flames have gone 0-8-1 in their last nine season openers, with their last season-opening win coming on Feb. 17, 2007, a 5-3 victory over Appalachian State.

Preseason Postings
Liberty has been predicted to finish second in the Big South Preseason Coaches' Poll, after placing third at 16-8 last season. The Lady Flames have tied their highest preseason projection, as Liberty was previously picked second in the preseason coaches' poll in 2000, 2001, 2011 and 2012. Sophomore Julia DiMartino finished second in voting for Preseason Pitcher of the Year, behind Elizabeth McCarthy of Longwood.

Two-time defending Big South champion Longwood was voted first in the preseason coaches' poll.

(DiMarti) No-Nos
Julia DiMartino tossed a five-inning no-hitter against Stetson at the 2016 Dot Richardson Invitational. She added a no-hitter in a 1-0 victory over Gardner-Webb, April 29, tying the program record for no-hitters in a single season.

DiMartino ended the season with a 17-12 record, 2.45 ERA, 187 strikeouts and seven shutouts, setting Liberty freshman records in wins, strikeouts, shutouts and no-hitters (tied.) DiMartino was named the the Big South All-Conference first team, while becoming the first freshman pitcher in program history to be voted to the VaSID All-State team.

Blazing the Basepaths
In their first three years under the direction of Head Coach Dot Richardson, the Lady Flames have averaged 85 stolen bases per year.

Junior Tori Zavodny has led the team in stolen bases each of the last two years, with 24 as a freshman and 29 last year. Her 53 career steals rank sixth in program history.

Zavodny has shown versatility, as she has led Liberty in runs scored, triples, walks, on-base percentage and stolen bases each of the last two seasons. She led the Big South with five triples in 2016, and is ranked fifth at Liberty with eight career triples.

Working Overtime
Liberty went 2-0 in extra-inning games against Big South teams last season, and 4-3 overall in games that went past regulation. The Lady Flames have won their last four conference extra-inning games, dating to 2014.

The Lady Flames downed Charleston Southern, 1-0, in eight innings on April 23, as Julia DiMartino pitched a five-hit shutout and Deidra See hit a walk-off single.

Liberty defeated Radford 4-3, in 10 innings on April 26, as Tori Zavodny went 2-for-3 with a double, homer and a career-high three runs scored. Julia DiMartino went the distance for the win, allowing just one earned run in 10 innings pitched.

Three for Me
Jaclyn Amader recorded her team-leading fifth three-hit game, April 10 at Presbyterian. Her five three-hit games were the most by a Liberty freshman since Ashley Williams' six in 2005.

Six current Lady Flames have posted at least one career three-hit contest, led by six from junior Tori Zavodny. Amader has recorded five three-hit games, followed by Alexia Taylor (3), Rylee Reynolds (2), Sarah Robertson (1) and Deidra See (1).