The Liberty softball team heads to Boiling Springs, N.C. this weekend, for a conference series against Gardner-Webb.
Complete Game Notes The Liberty softball team returns to the road for its next five games, starting with a three-game conference series against Gardner-Webb, Saturday and Sunday in Boiling Springs, N.C. The Lady Flames are scheduled to play 21 out of their first 26 contests away from home, but will have a 10-game homestand, March 30 through April 10.
Storylines Liberty (6-15, 0-1 Big South), opened the conference schedule with a 6-3 setback to Radford on Wednesday at Liberty Softball Field, and then fell twice to Cornell, Thursday. The Runnin' Bulldogs (13-15), split a home doubleheader with UNCG on Thursday. Liberty and Gardner-Webb met five times last season, with the Lady Flames claiming all five contests. Liberty's most recent two wins over the Runnin' Bulldogs, May 13, 2011, propelled them into the Big South Softball Championship final round.
How to Follow the Lady Flames Fans can follow this weekend's games through Gametracker, provided by the Liberty Athletics Communications Department. Live stats can be accessed through the Live Stats link on LibertyFlames.com. All three games will be available through a live video stream, at a small charge, through the Big South Network.
Quick Hits - Liberty continues Big South play against Gardner-Webb, opening a five-game road trip. - The Lady Flames are 15-3 all-time against Gardner-Webb, including eight straight wins. - Liberty will look to reverse fortunes, having sustained 11 straight defeats. - Liberty overcame a 10-run deficit with a 10-run inning in its 10th game of 2012, defeating ETSU, 14-13. The game was Liberty's first home night contest in program history. - Meredith Crisante was named Big South Softball Player of the Week, Feb. 27. - The Lady Flames have turned nine double plays in the last 10 games. - Amber Donovan tied a Division I record with three doubles, Feb. 24, vs. Savannah St. - Kaylee West entered Liberty softball's all-time top 10 list with her 86th RBI, Wednesday. - Liberty is the defending Big South Champion, posting a 30-30 record in 2011. Liberty vs. Gardner-Webb All-Time Series: Liberty leads, 15-3 Current Streak: Liberty W8 Last Meeting: Liberty 6, Gardner-Webb 1 (5/13/11 in Rock Hill, S.C.) Last Meeting in Boiling Springs: Liberty 11, Gardner-Webb 8 (8 innings) (4/16/11) Last Gardner-Webb Win: Gardner-Webb 6, Liberty 5 (April 11, 2009 in Boiling Springs) Series in Boiling Springs: Liberty leads, 5-3
Gardner-Webb plays its first conference games this weekend, with a 13-15 overall record after playing a midweek doubleheader against UNCG, Thursday. The Runnin' Bulldogs bat .271 as a team, averaging 3.6 runs per game, while posting a 4.24 team ERA. 2011 first team all-conference outfielder Samantha Meenaghan leads Gardner-Webb with a .442 batting average and 38 hits, while Savannah Burns (.311) and Melinda Dulkowski (.306) both hit over .300. Cindy Boomhower (5-3) boasts a 1.93 ERA this season. Liberty leads Gardner-Webb, 15-3, in the all-time series, winning the last eight meetings, including all five last season. The Lady Flames overcame an 8-1 deficit with two outs in the bottom of the seventh in an 11-8, eight-inning win against the Runnin' Bulldogs, April 16, 2011. Liberty also downed Gardner-Webb twice on May 13 to earn a spot in the Big South Championship final.
Coaching Matchup Liberty Head Coach: Paul Wetmore Record at Liberty (Seasons): 514-559-1 (19) Record vs. Gardner-Webb: 15-3
Gardner-Webb Head Coach: Tom Cole Record at Gardner-Webb (Seasons): 258-358-3 (12) Record vs. Liberty: 3-15
5-for-5 Liberty softball defeated Gardner-Webb five times last season, marking the first time in program history that the Lady Flames won five games against one team during the same year. Although the Lady Flames outscored Gardner-Webb, 37-14, head-to-head, last year, three out of the five meetings between the Lady Flames and Runnin' Bulldogs were decided by three runs or less. Game three of the 2011 series required extra innings, an 11-8 Liberty win. A Sammi Shivock solo home run provided all of the scoring in Liberty's first conference tournament win over Gardner-Webb, May 13, 2011.
Back to North Carolina Liberty opened the 2012 season in Elon, N.C., going 2-2 at the Elon Invitational. This weekend's trip to Gardner-Webb is the Lady Flames' last scheduled stay in North Carolina this season. Liberty went 3-2 in N.C. last season, and is 82-96 in the Tar Heel State as an NCAA Division I program (since 1994). Turn Two Liberty ranks second in the Big South in double plays turned this season, with 12. The Lady Flames have recorded nine double plays over the last 10 games played, including one in each of their most recent four contests. On March 14 against Sam Houston State, and again versus No. 15 Baylor, March 16, the Lady Flames completed two double plays.
2X4 On Wednesday against Radford, Liberty scored three runs in the fifth inning to take a 3-2 lead. Kaylee West led off with her first home run of the season. Meredith Crisante then hit a two-run shot to left. It marked the second time this season that Liberty has hit two home runs in the same inning. Crisante and Amber Donovan went yard back-to-back during the fourth inning of a 7-1 win over Savannah State, Feb. 24 in Spartanburg, S.C.
4-5 The middle innings have been very productive for the Lady Flames this season, as Liberty is outscoring opponents, 46-34, during the fourth and fifth innings of games. The Lady Flames have scored 24 runs in the fourth, and 22 in the fifth. So far this week, Liberty posted three-run rallies in the fifth inning against Radford and Cornell.
Double the Fun The Lady Flames have hit five doubles and two home runs in three games so far this week. Liberty is fourth overall in the conference with 25 doubles this season, and third with a .372 slugging percentage. Freshman Amber Donovan is third in the Big South with seven doubles in 2012. Most recently, Liberty connected for two doubles in game two of a doubleheader, Thursday against Cornell, as Donovan and Sammi Shivock both doubled.
Chasing History Kelly Strickland is third in program history with 41 home runs, three shy of second place, and is fourth all-time with 133 RBIs, eight shy of third. Kaylee West is tied with Sonja Keith (1996-99) for 10th all-time at Liberty, with 86 RBIs. She also has 33 career doubles, one away from 10th in program history. Meredith Crisante is seventh at Liberty with 29 career stolen bases. She hit her 16th career homer on Wednesday, and is one home run away from 10th place. Katie Zavodny is sixth on the Lady Flames' all-time list, with 33 career steals, one away from fifth, held by her teammate from 2011, Amber DePasquale. Championship Memories Liberty entered the 2011 Big South Softball Championship as the No. 2 seed. After falling to Winthrop in the opening round, the Lady Flames won four straight games, capped by a 3-1 win over top-seeded Radford in the final to claim its first title since 2002. The Lady Flames posted a 0.80 team ERA during the tournament, earning a pair of shutouts. Tiffani Smith earned Tournament MVP honors after throwing a no-hitter against host Winthrop, May 13. Sammi Shivock hit two game-winning home runs, one against Gardner-Webb and another in the final against Radford. Meredith Crisante went yard twice on May 13 at Winthrop. Both Shivock and Crisante both earned All-Tournament honors. Liberty qualified for the NCAA Softball Championship Knoxville Regional, where the Lady Flames faced No. 5 Tennessee and No. 19 Georgia Tech. The team led Georgia Tech, 2-1, going into the bottom of the fifth inning on May 21, before the Yellow Jackets rallied to down Liberty, 4-3.
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