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Liberty to Compete in Spartan Classic

February 18, 2010  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Danielle Howard and the Lady Flames will compete in the USC Upstate Campus Suites Spartan Classic this weekend in Spartanburg, S.C.

Danielle Howard and the Lady Flames will compete in the USC Upstate Campus Suites Spartan Classic this weekend in Spartanburg, S.C.

The Lady Flames will look to pick up their first win of the season this weekend, competing in the USC Upstate Campus Suites Spartan Classic in Spartanburg, S.C.

Liberty will face Eastern Kentucky on Friday at 5 p.m., followed by matchups against UMBC and USC Upstate on Saturday at 3 and 5 p.m. Concluding round-robin play, a consolation game will held at 11 a.m. Sunday, followed by the championship game at 1 p.m.

The Lady Flames are 0-1 on the year, after a loss to St. John's last weekend in the Charlotte Invitational. Liberty's other scheduled games of the tournament were cancelled due to inclement weather in the Charlotte area.

Senior J'nae Jefferson recorded the lone Liberty hit in that game, marking a .333 batting average on the year. Junior hurler Tiffani Smith (0-1) gave up four hits and struck out three batters in three complete innings, while freshman Katie Warrington threw 1.1 innings and gave up four hits in her first collegiate appearance.

Scouting the Field

Eastern Kentucky
Liberty opens the Spartan Classic against Eastern Kentucky on Friday at 5 p.m. The Colonels ended 2009 with a 17-27 overall record, and an 8-13 mark in Ohio Valley Conference play.

Eastern Kentucky returns 11 letterwinners from last year's squad, highlighted by senior Shyenne Hussey, who led the team with a .349 batting average, which was the sixth best in the conference. A key newcomer for the Colonels will be junior transfer Noelani Esperas, a pitcher who was a first-team All-American at Eastern Arizona College, and posted a 27-6 record and a 1.40 ERA as a sophomore.

Liberty is 3-0 all-time against Eastern Kentucky, and the two teams last met in 2000. The Lady Flames swept that doubleheader, 6-5 and 5-4, at home on March 6, 2000. This game will mark the Colonels' first of the season.

UMBC
The Lady Flames will UMBC at 3 p.m. on Saturday. The Retrievers are coming off of a 34-21 overall record in 2009 and a fourth-place finish in the America East Conference (12-8).

The team returns 16 letterwinners and eight starters, led by senior Amanda Fefel, who boasted a team-best .381 batting average in 2009. Also returning is junior pitcher Stephanie Weigman, who led the squad with a 2.20 ERA and 293 strikeouts last season.
Liberty is 11-9 all-time against the former Big South member, and the Lady Flames took the last victory, 5-0, on February 25, 2006, as part of the Seahawk Classic in Wilmington, N.C.

USC Upstate
Liberty will conclude round-robin play at the Spartan Classic by squaring off against St. John's on Saturday at 5 p.m. The Spartans were 29-19 in 2009, and finished fifth in the Atlantic Sun Conference with a 11-9 mark.

USC Upstate returns 12 letterwinners and seven starters from last year's team, led by junior Kim Brasil, who batted .342 in 2009. Pitcher Morgan Childers is also back for the Spartans after posting a 1.64 ERA last year.

The Spartans are 1-1 on the year after competing in the Palmetto State Showdown in Columbia, S.C., last weekend. USC Upstate defeated Charleston Southern, 2-1, and fell to Coastal Carolina, 6-1, before the remaining games were cancelled due to inclement weather conditions.

This meeting marks the first between Liberty and USC Upstate.