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LU Pounds Out 14 Hits in Victory over CSU

May 9, 2008  Rock Hill, S.C.  RSS
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Shannon McKain was one of two players to go 3-for-4, helping Liberty tally 14 hits during a 5-3 victory over Charleston Southern.

Shannon McKain was one of two players to go 3-for-4, helping Liberty tally 14 hits during a 5-3 victory over Charleston Southern.

No. 4 seed Liberty kept the pressure on No. 6 seed Charleston Southern all game, tallying 14 hits and leaving 16 runners on base en route to a 5-3 victory in Game 5 of the 2008 Big South Softball Championship, Friday morning, at Terry Field.

The victory staves off elimination from the tournament for the Lady Flames and raises Liberty's record to 18-39-1. The loss brings the Buccaneers season to an end at 18-41.

The Buccaneers jumped out to an early lead in the top of the first inning, when Ashley Conway clocked her team-leading fourth home run of the year. The catcher sent the 2-2 offering from starting pitcher Tiffani Smith well over the fence in left, staking the visitors to a 1-0 edge.

After leaving the bases loaded in both the first and second innings, the Lady Flames finally broke through in the bottom of the third with a pair runs. Ashley Williams started the inning with a double down the left-field line, pushing her career-record doubles total to 51.

Liberty looked like it might strand its seventh runner, as starting pitcher Jamie Wellons got two ground ball outs to follow. But Leah Cossentino broke the string by doubling to the gap in left center to plate Williams and tie the game at 1-1.

However, the score did not remain knotted for very long, as Shannon McKain singled up the middle on the next pitch to drive in Cossentino and give Liberty a one-run lead, 2-1.

Liberty doubled its run total in the following inning, plating two runs on three hits, while leaving the bases loaded for the third time in four innings. Beth Bennett singled to start the two-run scoring burst, directly followed by Williams' second two-base hit of the game, doubling down the left-field line to plate Bennett from first base.

Following back-to-back walks issued to Keely McMillon and Cossentino, Shannon McKain singled to right, allowing Williams to cross the plate and push Liberty's lead to three runs, 4-1.

The long ball continued to play a factor for the Buccaneers, as lead-off hitter Jill Shondel tagged a solo home run just left of the scoreboard in right center, trimming Liberty's lead to two runs, 4-2, in the top of the fifth inning.

Charleston Southern continued to chip away at Liberty's lead, plating its third run in the top of the sixth inning thanks in part to a Lady Flames' fielding error. Megan Hall singled to center field, while Tatjana Slawson followed by grounding back to Sarah Ellis in the pitcher's circle.

But the relief pitcher could not make the play, giving the Buccaneers a pair of base runners, while both players moved up a bag on Jennifer Pardue's ground out to first.

Ellis walked Amy Trenkamp to load the bases for just a few seconds, as Hall was leading off third base on the play and got caught in a run down. But the right fielder was able to elude a throw at the plate, scampering home to pull within one of the Lady Flames, 4-3.

However, Liberty gave itself another two-run cushion, scoring the game's second unearned run. Jenna Eatmon reached base on a single to center field and advanced to second as Amber DePasquale grounded into a fielder's choice play.

Hendrix followed with Liberty's fourth double of the game and 12th double this year against Charleston Southern, dropping a two-base hit into right field to allow Eatmon to cross the plate and give Liberty all the runs it would need.

Ellis got a ground out and a pair of pop ups in the seventh to secure her fourth save of the year and eighth of her career. The junior finished the game with two innings of work, allowing two hits and an unearned run, while fanning a batter.

Smith was the victor, upping her record to 6-13 on the season. The freshman allowed two runs on six hits over five innings of work, while striking out five batters.

Wellons suffered the loss, as the righty was roughed up for four runs on 10 hits over four innings of work. Whitney James finished off the final two innings of the year for Charleston Southern, allowing an unearned run on four hits, while fanning two.

Liberty recorded its sixth double-figure hit total of the year and third in its last four games, belting out 14 hits during the contest, while stranding 16 base runners. Five different players finished the game with multiple hits, led by Hendrix and McKain, who were both 3-for-4 in the victory.

Charleston Southern tallied eight hits during the game and a pair of multiple-hit performers. The Buccaneers' offense was paced by Conway, who was 2-for-4 with a run scored and a RBI and Hall, who was 2-for-3 with a run scored.

With the victory, the Lady Flames advance to this evening's 5:30 p.m., contest where they will face the winner in the Birmingham-Southern versus Coastal Carolina game.

The winner at 5:30 p.m., will square off with the loser from the Winthrop versus Radford contest for the right to advance to the championship game tomorrow at 3:30 p.m.