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Liberty Falls to No. 15 Kentucky 6-2 in Season Opener

February 7, 2020  Clearwater, Fla.   RSS
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Caroline Hudson recorded a hit in her first career game, Friday against Kentucky.

Caroline Hudson recorded a hit in her first career game, Friday against Kentucky.

The Liberty softball team opened up a challenging 2020 season schedule with a 6-2 setback to No. 15 Kentucky on Friday at Eddie C. Moore Complex.

Kentucky (1-0) began the NFCA Division I Leadoff Classic with a win, while Liberty opened its season at 0-1.

Kentucky is one of 15 of Liberty's opponents this season who competed in the 2019 NCAA Division I Softball Championship.

Scoring Summary
Kentucky – 4th INNING – Martens homers to right field, 1-0

Kentucky – 5th INNING – Kowalik singles, Spangler scores, 2-0

Kentucky – 7th INNING – Johnson singles, Spangler scores, 3-0

Kentucky – 7th INNING – Baalman doubles, Kowalik scores, 4-0

Kentucky – 7th INNING – Martens homers, Smith scores, 6-0

Liberty – 7th INNING – Autumn Bishop reaches on fielder's choice, RBI; Gibson scores. 6-1

Liberty – 7th INNING – Canetto singles, Autumn Bishop scores, 6-2

Notable Numbers
- Kentucky outhit Liberty, 11-7, while the Wildcats committed the game's only two errors. Liberty left nine runners on base, while the Wildcats stranded five.

- Kentucky's Megan Schorman (1-0) earned the win, allowing four hits while striking out two in four innings pitched. Reliever Larissa Spellman struck out three and walked two in two innings, while Autumn Humes allowed two runs on three hits in one inning.

- Liberty freshman Karlie Keeney (0-1) drew the loss, yielding five runs on 10 hits, fanning two and walking two in 6 2/3 innings. Emily Kirby gave up one run on one hit in 1/3 of an inning.

- Alex Martens batted 3-for-4 with two homers, three RBI and two runs scored. Tatum Spangler hit 2-for-3 with two doubles and two runs scored.

- Seven different Lady Flames recorded one hit each. Blake Gibson doubled, while fellow freshman Caroline Hudson singled during her first at bat.

Turning Point
- Karlie Keeney had a shutout going until Martens' leadoff homer in the fourth. Kentucky added one run in the fifth before posting a four-run seventh inning to pull away.

- Liberty broke into the scoring column with two runs in the seventh off of reliever Humes.

Beyond the Box Score
- Today's game marked the third time that Liberty has played against a Top 25 team in its season opener. Liberty opened the 2015 season with a setback to No. 23 South Alabama and began the 2016 campaign with a lost at No. 17 UCF.

- This is the fifth time in Dot Richardson's seven seasons that Liberty has opened the season in Florida.

- Liberty is opening the 2020 season with 13 straight games against Power 5 teams. That is the longest streak of consecutive games against Power 5 opponents of any team to start 2020. The second longest such streak belongs to Seattle, who opens with seven straight Power 5 opponents.

- Keeney is the first Liberty freshman pitcher to start the season opener since Chase Cassady started against No. 17 UCF in a 7-2 loss on Feb. 11, 2016.

- Five Liberty freshmen (Blake Gibson, Keeney, Hudson, Gaby Ruiz and Savannah Channell) started today. The last time five freshmen started for Liberty in the season opener was Feb. 11, 2016, starting Sarah Robertson, Jaclyn Amader, Kaitlin McFarland, Rylee Reynolds and Chase Cassady. The program record for most freshmen to start a season opener was six, in 2002.