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Five-Run Fifth Gives Lady Flames Game One Win

April 29, 2008  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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J'nae Jefferson was 2-for-3 during Liberty's game-one victory over Gardner-Webb on Tuesday.

J'nae Jefferson was 2-for-3 during Liberty's game-one victory over Gardner-Webb on Tuesday.

Liberty plated five runs in the fifth, and withstood a late rally to open its home finale doubleheader of the season with a 5-4 victory over Gardner-Webb, Tuesday afternoon, at the Liberty Softball Field.

With the victory, Liberty ups its record to 14-37-1 on the year against the future Big South Conference opponent. The loss drops Gardner-Webb's mark to 21-32.

The game remained quiet over the first four innings of play, as the two teams combined for five hits without making a dent on the scoreboard.

Gardner-Webb was finally able to scratch across a run in the top of the fifth inning, thanks to a pair of Liberty fielding errors. Starting pitcher Tiffani Smith wasn't able to field a ball hit back to her inside the circle, allowing leadoff hitter Kelly Linsley to reach base.

Following a single to left by Melody Harrell, Smith looked like she was going to get out of the inning, as the freshman induced an infield pop-up by Christa Fullwood.

However, miscommunication between Leah Cossentino and Cassie Hendrix on the play around second base caused Hendrix to drop the ball and allow Linsley to score the game's first run.

But Liberty quickly answered back, batting around the order to plate five runs and take a four-run lead, 5-1. J'nae Jefferson started the offensive outburst with a single up the middle.

Following the junior's seventh stolen base of the year, Jefferson scored on Jenna Eatmon's single to center field to knot the score at 1-1.

Amber DePasquale kept the inning rolling for Liberty, reaching base on an infield single. Following a second infield single by Hendrix and a walk to Beth Bennett, Liberty's all-time doubles leader Ashley Williams added her 49th career two-base hit and cleared the bases with a lined shot down the left-field line.

Shannon McKain grounded to Harrell at shortstop, who fielded the ball on her knees and tried to gun the senior out at first. But her throw across the diamond was short of the bag, allowing an alert Williams to score from second base for an insurance run.

And the extra notch on the scoreboard would prove to be huge for Liberty, as Gardner-Webb plated three runs in the top of the sixth to pull within a run, 5-4.

Angie Wells and Haley Scism opened the frame by drawing consecutive four-pitch walks. The back-to-back free passes chased Smith from the contest, where Eatmon was brought in from right field to try and halt the rally.

The righty got a sacrifice bunt out by Adrienne Smith and fanned pinch hitter Ashley Whitlock, but Linsley stroked a three-run homer to straightaway center field, cutting Liberty's lead to one run on the round tripper.

Sarah Ellis was brought in to stop Gardner-Webb's charge and the junior was able to get three ground balls and an infield pop-up for the game's final four outs to secure her third save of the year. The save was the seventh of her career, moving the junior into a tie with Katie Phillips for second place on Liberty's all-time saves list.

Smith was the victor in the contest, winning her third game in her last five starts to improve to 5-12. The freshman allowed three runs, two of which were earned, on three hits, while walking five and fanning six.

Cindy Boomhower took the loss for the visitors, falling to 3-10 on the season, as she was roughed up for five runs on seven hits over five innings of work. Alison Coffey finished the last inning of the game for Gardner-Webb, retiring all three batters she faced.

Williams and Jefferson led Liberty's eight-hit attack, as both batters went 2-for-3 from the plate. Williams drove in three and scored once, while Jefferson drove in another.

The Bulldogs finished the contest with four hits, led by Linsley, who was 1-for-4 with two runs scored and three RBIs off second home run of the year.

Following a 20-minute intermission, the Lady Flames and the Bulldogs will reconvene on the Liberty Softball Field to conclude today's non-conference doubleheader.