The No. 3-seeded Lady Flames will play the No. 6 Coastal Carolina Chanticleers in the first round of the Big South Championship presented by Texas Roadhouse, tomorrow at 12:30 p.m.
Complete Tournament Notes (PDF format)
Live Video Streaming (Big South EDGE)
Live Radio Broadcasts (WWMC 90.9 FM "The Light")
Live Stats The No. 3 Liberty Lady Flames (22-33, 10-8 Big South) travel to Radford, Va. to square off against the No. 6 seed Coastal Carolina Chanticleers at 12:30 p.m. Thursday in the first round of the Big South Championship presented by Texas Roadhouse. If Liberty wins, the Lady Flames will take on No. 2 seed Winthrop at 5:30 p.m. However, a loss will set up a Friday morning matchup against the loser of No. 4 Charleston Southern and No. 5 Gardner-Webb at 10 a.m. The remainder of the double-elimination tournament will continue through Saturday, when the conference champion will be crowned after Game 10 or Game 11 (if necessary). The tournament champion claims the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Softball Tournament. The Flames on the Radio Thursday's game can be heard on 90.9 FM WWMC "The Light." In addition, the live broadcast can be heard via webcast at www.thelightonline.com and www.libertyflames.com. The station will carry all Liberty softball tournament games as long as the team remains in the championship. The Championship on the Web All 2009 Big South Championship games will be available live on a video stream via the conference web site, the Big South EDGE. Tournament games will be available via the $6.95 Day Pass - which covers all games played that day - or the $14.95 Full Championship Pass, which features the tournament in its entirety. Log onto www.bigsouthsports.com for more information. In addition, live stats will be available on the Liberty web site, free of charge. Big South Leaders The Lady Flames pitching staff leads the conference in ERA (2.54) and strikeouts (299). Tiffani Smith leads the conference with a 2.03 ERA, while Sarah Ellis is third with a 2.66 ERA. Ellis has pitched the most innings in the Big South (192), while Smith ranks second in the conference with 155 strikeouts (Ellis is third with 141). Offensively, Beth Bennett is tied for second in the Big South with 10 home runs. Honors for Lady Flames Three Lady Flames have been honored by the Big South this season. Tiffani Smith and Sarah Ellis each received Big South New Balance Pitcher of the Week honors, and Kelly Strickland was named the Big South Conference Choice Hotels Player of the Week. Smith earned the pitching honor twice this year, on March 3 and April 13. Ellis won the accolade on March 17, the first of her career. Strickland was named the Player of the Week on May 4, after having a pair of two-homer performances in a weekend series against Coastal Carolina. Conference-Only Numbers Liberty is batting .284 as a team in conference play this year, with 18 of its 27 total home runs coming in Big South matchups. Tiffani Smith leads the Big South with a 2.11 ERA in conference play, while Beth Bennett is tied for third in the conference with 16 RBIs. Kelly Strickland is tied for the conference lead, as seven of her eight home runs have come in Big South play. Current Players in the Record Books Beth Bennett, currently at 10 home runs on the season, needs only one more to join Liberty's top 10 single-season list. Sarah Ellis ranks seventh in program history with 192 innings pitched this season, and is tied for eigth with 21 complete games in 2009. Tiffani Smith is tied for fourth in Liberty history with 155 strikeouts this year, while Ellis is ninth on the same list with 141 punchouts. Liberty as the No. 3 Seed This is the fourth time Liberty has entered the Big South Championship as the No. 3 seed, and the Lady Flames are 6-6 in the tournament in the No. 3 position. Double-Digit Conference Wins This season marks the fourth time Liberty has won at least 10 conference games during the regular season. The Lady Flames picked up 11 victories in 1999 and 2007, and posted 10 wins in 1997. Hot Hitting in Conference Play Five Liberty players are batting .300 or higher in conference play: J'nae Jefferson (.389), Kelly Strickland (.356), Keely McMillon (.349), Beth Bennett (.347), and Danielle Howard (.300). Strickland has knocked seven home runs in Big South games, while Bennett has recorded five bombs. Offensive Surge in the Last 10 Games Kelly Strickland is batting .370 in her last 10 games, with six home runs, 13 RBIs and 11 runs scored. Her slugging percentage is 1.148, as nine of her 10 hits are for extra bases (three doubles, six home runs). She also has a .500 on-base percentage, with five walks and two hit-by-pitch. J'nae Jefferson is hitting a team-high .483 in her last 10 games, and is on a 12-game hitting streak entering the tournament. It is the longest streak on the team this year, as well as the longest streak of Jefferson's career. As a team, Liberty is hitting .286 with 11 home runs in the last 10 games. During that stretch, the Lady Flames are 6-2 against Big South opponents. Situational Stats Kelly Strickland posts a .391 average against left-handed pitchers, vs. a .214 average against right-handers. Beth Bennett is the opposite, hitting .319 versus right-handers and .172 against left-handed hurlers. Bennett is also batting .323 with runners on base. Ashley Bensinger shines as a pinch hitter, batting .429 in pinch-hitting situations (6-for-14). J'nae Jefferson has recorded numerous hits in clutch situations, as she is batting .333 with runners in scoring position. Kaylee West does well at the plate with two outs, as she has batted .306 in that situation (15-for-49). Fifteen of her 27 hits this season have come with two outs. Keely McMillon also performs well under pressure, as 11 of her 13 RBIs have come with two outs. Pleading for the Fifth The fifth inning has been Liberty's best this season. The Lady Flames have scored a team-high 28 runs in the fifth, and are out-scoring opponents by a 28-13 margin in the fifth frame. Close Margins The Lady Flames have ended 18 games in one-run margins this season, winning five contests and dropping 13. Three is the Magic Number The longest winning streak of the season is three games for the Lady Flames, and they have found themselves on a three-game streak on five different occasions this year. Liberty enters the tournament having won three straight games to end the regular season. Advantage When Striking First The Lady Flames have a 20-8 record when they are the first team to put a run on the scoreboard. Liberty vs. Coastal Carolina Liberty has won four straight contests over the Chanticleers of Coastal Carolina, who they will face in the first round of the 2009 Big South Championship. The Lady Flames have faced Coastal Carolina more often than any other opponent in the Big South tournament. Notable Performances in the Postseason J'nae Jefferson was named to the 2008 All-Tournament Team, after hitting .438. In her career, she is hitting .348 in seven Big South tournament games. Cassie Hendrix and Amber DePasquale are both hitting .333 in Big South Championship play. Sarah Ellis has made six Big South Championship pitching appearances for a total of 22.1 innings. She is 1-1 with a 1.57 ERA and a save. Ellis pitched a complete-game shutout against Radford in 2008, leading the Lady Flames to the title game. Tiffani Smith is 2-1 with a 3.87 ERA in Big South Championship appearances. Offensive Explosion in Conway Liberty's 11 runs against Coastal Carolina in Saturday's second game were the Lady Flames' most runs since a 12-3 win at Charleston Southern on May 3, 2008. Also, Liberty's 12 hits tied a season-high for 2009. The Lady Flames scored 27 runs in the three games against the Chanticleers, equaling Liberty's most runs ever in a three-game Big South series. Liberty also plated 27 runs at Winthrop on April 6 and 7, 2007. Career Notables Beth Bennett owns the Liberty record for most games played (242) and most games started (242). She has started every game of her career since she joined the squad as a freshman. Bennett also ranks fourth in career hits (201), fourth in RBIs (121), fifth in doubles (38), third in walks (91) and second in at-bats (715). Sarah Ellis is third in career innings pitched (631.2), fifth in wins (42 - one behind Terra Lowe), second in saves (8) and fifth in complete games (55).
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