Lady Flame Ashley Bensinger
In a game plagued by errors from both teams, the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame edged the Lady Flames, 6-4, Sunday afternoon, at the College of Charleston Cougar Classic.
The loss wrapped up Liberty's appearance in the tournament, and the Lady Flames return to Lynchburg with a 2-2 record on the year. Notre Dame, who is sitting just outside the latest To 25 poll, remains unbeaten in 2011 at 9-0. The Lady Flames came out strong, with Katie Zavodny reaching on a leadoff infield single. She moved to third on the next play, when Jenny Law was safe at first on a bunt, as Notre Dame second baseman Dani Miller muffed the throw from third baseman Heather Johnson. But Liberty couldn't come up with a run, as starting pitcher Jackie Bowe fanned the next three batters. The Fighting Irish put a run on the board in the bottom of the first, as Alexa Maldonado bunted for a single and then stolen back-to-back bases. She scored when Miller grounded out to shortstop, giving Notre Dame a quick 1-0 lead. The Irish scored two runs on two hits and two Liberty errors in the bottom of the second frame, extending the score to 3-0. The defensive troubles for the Lady Flames continued in the third, as two more Liberty errors contributed to three additional Notre Dame runs. The Lady Flames scored a run of their own in the top of the fourth to bring the score to 6-1. Ashley Bensinger led off by drawing a walk, and moved to second when Kelly Strickland singled to shortstop. Bensinger scored and Strickland moved to third on a deep sacrifice fly to left by Kaylee West, putting Liberty on the board. Liberty continued to charge back into the game in the top of the fifth, taking advantage of two Notre Dame mistakes to score three more runs. Amber DePasquale led off with a walk, and Zavodny followed with a bunt, making it all the way to second on a throwing error by the pitcher. DePasquale scored and Zavodny then advanced to third when Law singled through the left side and moved to second on the throw, Bensinger came up next, and tapped a pop fly to right field. But Amy Buntin dropped the ball, allowing both Zavodny and Law to cross the plate, and Bensinger made it to second to bring Liberty within two runs, 6-4. But the Lady Flames' offense stalled after that, as Notre Dame made a pitching change and the Fighting Irish held on for the 6-4 victory. Bensinger led the Lady Flames with two RBI, and Law was 1-for-2 and drove in a run. The Irish were paced by Buntin, who was 1-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored. Bowe picked up the win in the circle to improve to 1-0 on the year, while Katrina Johnson (1-1) gave up seven hits and tallied two strikeouts in the loss. The Lady Flames are back in action next weekend, competing in the UMBC tournament in Baltimore, Md. Liberty's first contest is Friday at 9:30 a.m., when the Lady Flames take on Siena.