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Liberty Set to Compete in Carolina Classic

March 1, 2018  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Liberty Set to Compete in Carolina Classic

Complete Game Notes

Liberty (10-4) heads to Columbia, S.C., to compete in the Carolina Classic. While in Columbia, the Lady Flames will take on 2017 NCAA Regional Participants Marshall and No. 20/21 South Carolina, along with George Washington. Liberty last played at South Carolina on March 5, as current Lady Flame Alexia Taylor hit her first career home run in a 12-3 Gamecocks victory.

The Lady Flames went 2-3 at the prestigious Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic last week in Cathedral City, Calif., beginning with a nine-inning win over North Carolina. Liberty nearly upset No. 3/4 UCLA, leading 3-2 entering the bottom of the fifth before the Bruins rallied to top the Lady Flames, 4-3.

Led by 2017 Big South Coach of the Year Dot Richardson, the defending NISC champion Lady Flames have outscored opponents, 63-27, so far. Liberty boasts a .318 batting average, 4.5 runs per game and 2.21 steals per game. The Lady Flames also have posted a 2.29 team ERA and four shutouts.

Junior Julia DiMartino, reigning Big South Pitcher of the Year, is 6-3 with a 1.53 ERA, 59 strikeouts, three shutouts, two saves and a .166 opponents batting average in 50 1/3 innings. Chase Cassady holds a 3-1 record with a 2.36 ERA and one shutout.

Autumn Bishop bats .358 with a team-leading 13 runs scored, while Taylor Hoffman hits .345. Tori Zavodny is hitting .341 with three triples, 10 RBI and three steals. Sarah Robertson (.333) leads the team with six doubles and 11 RBI, while Jaclyn Amader bats .318.

Quick Hits
- Liberty is looking for its first win over a nationally-ranked opponent since 2007.

- The Lady Flames got off to a 9-1 start for the second year in a row.

- Liberty was picked to finish second in the Big South preseason poll. Julia DiMartino is Preseason Pitcher of the Year, and Amber Bishop is Preseason Player of the Year.

- Liberty had a program-record four players named to the NFCA All-Region team in 2017.

- The Lady Flames have won two games when behind entering the seventh inning in 2018.

Top 25 Challenge
The Liberty softball team has competed against top 25 teams 61 times in program history, posting a 6-55 record versus nationally-ranked opponents.

Liberty has five games scheduled against teams that are currently ranked in the top 25. The Lady Flames fell to No. 3/4 UCLA and No. 17/15 Arizona State last week in California, and will host Baylor in the Liberty Softball Classic next weekend.

Liberty went 0-6 against ranked opponents last year, falling to then No. 6/5 UCLA, No. 3/3 Florida, No. 2/3 Auburn (twice) and No. 19/19 Tennessee (twice).

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 Lady Flames have one win all-time against an SEC program, defeating Arkansas, 5-2, on Feb. 13, 2015.

Winningest Month
Liberty went 11-4 in May 2017, the most wins in the month of May in program history. Then, to start this season, Liberty's 10 wins in February are the most February victories in program history. The most wins in any month in program history was 28, when Liberty went 28-9 in March 1996.

Most Wins in Each Month in a Single Season in Program History
Month - Most Wins - Year
Feb. - 10 - 2018  
March - 28 - 1996
April - 21 - 1982, 1986
May - 11 - 2017

On the Streaks
The 2017 NISC Champion Lady Flames won their first six games on 2018, tying the 1996 team for the best undefeated start to a season in program history.

Liberty went on a program-record 13-game winning streak from April 2 through 18, 2017. That streak saw Liberty outscore opponents, 80-6, while tossing nine shutouts.

Shutting the Door
The Lady Flames shut out their first three opponents this year, Fairleigh Dickinson, Morgan State and Chattanooga, tying the team's longest shutout streak (1995) to start a season.

Julia DiMartino has tossed two one-hitters (vs. FDU, Feb. 9, vs. Delaware State, Feb. 16) and one two-hitter (vs. Chattanooga, Feb. 10) in her seven starts so far, and added a six-out save against Toledo. Chase Cassady pitched a three-hitter against Morgan State on Feb. 9.

Blazing the Basepaths
Liberty entered the week ranked fifth in the nation in triples per game (0.57) and 18th in stolen bases per game (2.21). Last year, the Lady Flames set a new program record with 96 stolen bases in 70 games.

The Lady Flames tied a program record with eight stolen bases on Feb. 10 against Chattanooga, highlighted by two steals each from Autumn Bishop and Jasmeen Click. Nine different Lady Flames have at least one stolen base so far.

Liberty has twice overcome seventh-inning deficits to win games this year, coming in back-to-back games.     

On Feb. 16 against Central Michigan, Amber Bishop tied the game at 3-all with a seventh-inning solo homer, before Tori Zavodny's go-ahead triple in the ninth won it, 4-3.

Last Friday, the Lady Flames erased one-run deficits in the seventh and eighth against North Carolina before winning, 3-2, on an overthrow when Jaclyn Amader stole third in the ninth.

Sarah Robertson led the Lady Flames with 16 doubles last season, including a program-record-tying three doubles against NC Central on March 11.

Robertson has picked up where she left off last year, leading the Big South and tying for 12th in the nation with six doubles.

DiMartino Named Big South Pitcher of the Week
Julia DiMartino was named Big South Pitcher of the Week on Feb. 12. She is the first player in program history to be named Big South Pitcher of the Week as a freshman, sophomore and junior.

She is 6-3 with a 1.53 ERA, three shutouts and 8.2 strikeouts per seven innings. She is tied for 12th in the nation in shutouts and 56th in strikeouts per seven innings entering the week.

First Things First
For the second year in a row, a Liberty freshman hit 2-for-3 in her first career game. In last year's season opener, Amber Bishop went 2-for-3 with a double versus Chattanooga. On Feb. 9 against Fairleigh Dickinson, freshman Madison Via batted 2-for-3.

On Feb. 10 against Toledo, freshman Emily Kirby earned the win in relief, her first collegiate appearance. Teammate Elizabeth Engler won in her first two collegiate pitching appearances in 2017. Kirby became the first Liberty lefthanded pitcher to throw a pitch in a game since Dana Wheeler against Coastal Carolina, April 12, 2008.

Triple the Fun
So far this season, Liberty averages 0.57 triples per game, good for fifth in the nation.

Tori Zavodny is tied for sixth nationally with three triples, while Jaclyn Amader and Autumn Bishop are tied for eighth with two triples each.

Sister Act
The Bishop twins, Amber and Autumn, played a major role for the Lady Flames as freshmen last year. Both were voted Big South Freshman of the Week three times each.

Amber batted .373 and set nine program freshman records and was named Big South and VaSID All-State Freshman of the Year, as well as a top 25 finalist for the NFCA National Freshman of the Year.

Autumn was an NFCA All-Region first team utility player, batting .381 with 15 doubles and a .473 on-base percentage. She has started the 2018 season on a tear, hitting .358 while scoring 0.93 runs per game.

Player Quick Hits
- Autumn Bishop recorded a 15-game hitting streak which ended last Saturday against Arizona State. It is tied for the fifth longest hitting streak in program history and is the longest by a Lady Flame since Katie Zavodny's program-record-tying 23-game hitting streak in 2013.

- After batting .315 as a freshman in 2016, Jaclyn Amader slipped to .204 last season. She has bounced back so far this year, batting .318 with a double, two triples, one homer and six RBI.

- Taylor Hoffman is batting .345 this season with four two-hit games already, after recording two two-hit contests as a freshman last year.

- Tori Zavodny is one of just two players (Jessica Moore) in program history to reach double-figures in career doubles, triples and home runs.

- Rylee Reynolds made her first collegiate pitching appearance on Feb. 11 against Detroit Mercy, getting a game-ending double play in the seventh. A junior, she is a career .280 hitter in 77 games.

- Kaitlin McFarland earned her first career individual honor, being named to the 2017 Big South All-Tournament team. McFarland leads the team with a .419 OBP and nine walks in 2018.

- Alexia Taylor batted .391 with 19 RBI in conference play last season. Her 12-game hitting streak in April was the second longest by a Lady Flame in 2017.

- Deidra See tied a program single-season record with her fourth sacrifice fly, April 15, 2017 at Gardner-Webb. She is tied for third in program history with six career sac flies.