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Battle with Cavaliers Set for Wednesday

March 31, 2009  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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The Lady Flames will take a brief break from Big South action to face Virginia in a road doubleheader on Wednesday.

The Lady Flames will take a brief break from Big South action to face Virginia in a road doubleheader on Wednesday.

The Lady Flames will travel north to Charlottesville, tomorrow evening, as Liberty takes a break from Big South play to square off against Virginia in a non-conference doubleheader. First pitch of the opening game is slated for 5 p.m., at The Park.

Liberty has had some recent success when facing programs within the Commonwealth, as the squad was 3-1 against state teams last week. During the Lady Flames' first home stand of the 2009 season, Liberty swept Norfolk State, 4-0 and 3-1, while splitting a double dip with Hampton, losing 2-0 and winning 5-1.

The Lady Flames are coming off their Big South opening series, as Liberty traveled to Rock Hill, S.C., to tangle with two-time defending league champion Winthrop last weekend. Megan Evans, one of the league's winningest pitchers added a trio of wins to her 11-6 mark in 2009, helping the league's preseason favored program sweep the series.

Winthrop held Liberty's bats in check for two of the three games, while the Eagles edged out the Lady Flames in a slugfest during the middle contest. During the 7-5 Winthrop victory, Liberty's offense exploded, tying a season high with 10 hits.

Outfield Danielle Howard had a breakout game during the aforementioned offensive burst, as the freshman was 3-for-4 with two runs scored and her first collegiate home run.

J'nae Jefferson was able to keep her hitting streak alive, pushing it to five games. The junior has raised her batting average over 50 points over the past two weeks, having hit safely in nine of the last 11 contests. The five-game string is the third longest hitting streak of her career and the best since she put seven-straight games together in 2008.

The midweek matchup with the Cavaliers will also be a break from conference action for Virginia, who has dropped four out of its last six games to open ACC play at 2-4. Virginia, who is on the road today at George Mason, salvaged a 5-3 victory over N.C. State in the final game of its three-game series with the Wolfpack on March 22, while taking the series opener, 5-2, from Virginia Tech this past weekend.

The Cavaliers are paced by a pair of long-ball hitters in Sarah Tackle and Nicole Koren. Tackle, a left-handed outfield from Merced, Calif., leads the squad with a .440 batting average to go along with 24 runs scored, four triples, eight home runs and 33 RBIs.

Koren, Virginia's starting designated player who can also pitch, follows closely behind, as the junior boasts of a .394 batting average, while adding 19 runs scored, four doubles 28 RBIs and tying Koren for team-high honors with eight round trippers.

Prior to the beginning of ACC action, Virginia reeled off 10-straight victories, including eight consecutive to open their 2009 home slate. The Cavaliers began this week with a 19-9 mark and are now 9-2 in contests played at The Park this year.

Last season, the two teams split a pair of games at the Liberty Softball Field. The Cavaliers held off a seventh-inning rally to secure a 7-6 victory, while Liberty's bats exploded for nine runs on 13 hits for the second game 9-6 win.

Keely McMillon was the offensive star of the second game, as the catcher was a perfect 4-for-4 from the dish with three RBIs, while Amber DePasquale clocked a two-run homer. Sarah Ellis was the victor, scattering eight hits over seven innings of work, while fanning two batters.

In the opening game, McMillon and Beth Bennett led Liberty's nine-hit attack. McMillon was 2-for-4 with a run driven in, followed by Bennett's 2-for-3 performance with two runs scored.

Bennett has had some success during her days against the Cavaliers, as the senior has a .400 batting average in four contests against Virginia (4-for-10) to go along with five runs scored.

The last time Liberty visited The Park was in 2005, when Liberty dropped a pair of decisions to the Cavaliers, 4-1 and 6-2, on April 13.