Softball takes two of three

After faltering on the defense during game one of Saturday’s doubleheader and taking a 2-6 loss, the Liberty Flames softball team stepped it up, taking control of the next two games and winning two of its three home games in the series against the Charleston Southern Buccaneers on April 8 and 9.

Successful batter — The Lady Flames softball team took two of three games this weekend against Charleston Southern. Photo credit: Chris Mabes

Pitcher Katrina Johnson struggled during the first game, giving up five runs, and the team couldn’t recover, according to head coach Paul Wetmore. However, he said the second game was completely different.

“Kat came out and pitched a complete game and she pitched very well,” Wetmore said. “We hit the ball well. We had some long ball, and the intensity was great in the second game because we didn’t have to play from behind. That makes a huge difference.”

Johnson said that after pitching most of the first two innings of the first game, she went to the bullpen to practice so she was ready to come back out during game two. Not only did her pitching keep the Buccaneers at one run and six hits, but the rest of the defense stepped it up, according to Johnson.

“The first game, we might have struggled a little on the mound and on defense, so we decided to just come back the second game and bring it together and refuse to be mediocre,” third baseman Ashley Bensinger said. “We were going to be good at all things and that was the focus.”

Bensinger said that the strength of the Lady Flames during the second game was adjusting to what the Buccaneers pitchers were throwing, not just during each at-bat, but with each pitch.

This strategy caused the Lady Flames to hit the ball well, accumulating nine runs and ending the game in the sixth inning with a final score of 9-1.

“Kelly (Strickland) had the two-run homer to begin with and she got us started,” Wetmore said. “Then Benny’s grand slam was big, but at the end there, Kelly just stepped up and finished the game with a three-run triple. It was big, it was really big.”

According to Wetmore, the team’s goal was to sweep at home against Charleston Southern. They were not able to accomplish just that, but the team’s performance was a complete turnaround from game one to games two and three. Winning the second game of the doubleheader and Saturday’s game, 4-1, was really significant for the team, according to Bensinger.

“It just really sends a message to other teams and just lets them know that we mean business,” Bensinger said. “We’re going for the Big South Championship this year and no matter what happens, we’re just going to bounce back.”

After the weekend’s series the Lady Flames have a 14-17 record for the season and a 5-3 record in the Big South Conference. The team will next travel to Harrisonburg to face James Madison for a two-game series on April 13.

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