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Liberty Softball Set to Begin 2010 Season

February 12, 2010  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Tiffani Smith and the Lady Flames will kick off the 2010 softball season this weekend in Charlotte, N.C.

Tiffani Smith and the Lady Flames will kick off the 2010 softball season this weekend in Charlotte, N.C.

The Liberty softball team will kick off the 2010 season this weekend, competing in the Charlotte Invitational in Charlotte, N.C.

The Lady Flames will face Charlotte and East Tennessee State on Saturday afternoon in round-robin action, followed by a matchup against St. John's Sunday morning. Championship play is slated for 2 and 4 p.m. Sunday.

The Lady Flames are coming off a runner-up finish at the 2009 Big South Championship, upsetting 2008 champion Winthrop en route to the finals, where they fell to regular-season champion Radford. The matchup with Radford marked Liberty's second-straight and fifth overall appearance in the conference tournament title game.

Liberty ended 2009 with a 26-35 overall record, and a 10-8 mark in conference play, a record which earned them third place in the league standings.

Senior J'nae Jefferson returns to third base for the Lady Flames, after leading the team with 49 hits last season. Junior pitcher Tiffani Smith, a 2009 all-conference selection, also returns, after posting a league-best 2.21 ERA.

Scouting the Field

Charlotte
Liberty opens the 2010 season against Charlotte on Saturday at 3 p.m. The 49ers ended 2009 with a 33-16 overall record, and went 14-4 in the Atlantic 10 for a second-place finish.

Charlotte returns 11 letterwinners from last year's squad, highlighted by senior outfielder Serena Smith, who led the team with a .363 batting average, 62 hits and 37 RBIs. Also returning is senior pitcher Emily Jeffery, who went 23-9 in the circle last year, posting a team-best 1.39 ERA.

Liberty is 7-16 all-time against the 49ers, and the two teams last met in 2006. Charlotte won that game by a 5-4 margin on March 10, 2006, as part of the Holiday Inn 49er Classic in Charlotte, N.C.

East Tennessee State
The Lady Flames will face East Tennessee State at 5 p.m. on Saturday. The Buccaneers are coming off of a 27-28 overall record in 2009 and a ninth-place finish in the Atlantic Sun Conference (6-14).

The team returns 10 letterwinners and six starters, led by senior Cheniece Cason, who boasted a team-best .345 batting average in 2009. Also returning is senior pitcher Marissa Hardy, who led the squad with a 1.93 ERA and 184 strikeouts last season.

This matchup marks the first between the Lady Flames and Buccaneers.

St. John's
Liberty will conclude round-robin play at the Charlotte Invitational by squaring off against St. John's on Sunday morning at 10 a.m. The Red Storm posted a 24-26 overall record and went 11-13 in Big East play in 2009, finishing seventh in the conference.

The team returns 10 letterwinners and seven starters, including junior outfielder Chelsea Durning, who led the team with 49 hits and 37 runs scored in 2009. Junior Kat Lawrence also returns, and she led the Red Storm pitching staff with a 2.63 ERA and 199 strikeouts.

The Lady Flames are 2-3 all-time against St. John's. The Red Storm was victorious, 11-2, in the last matchup between the two squads, which took place in 2004.