Night and day
Lady Flames falter in first game; run away with nightcap
Game 1: Hampton 7, Liberty 5
The Liberty University Lady Flames (18-16, 5-1) softball team split an afternoon doubleheader against the Hampton University Lady Pirates (12-17, 4-2) Thursday, March 31, at Liberty Softball Stadium.
The Flames lost the first game 7-5 and bounced back to take the second contest 13-1 in just five innings.
The doubleheader was the second for the Lady Flames in as many days, as they split the series against the Virginia Tech Hokies in Blacksburg, Virginia, the night before.
The Lady Flames started out strong as freshman second baseman Sarah Robertson got the inning going with a leadoff triple, later scoring on a pitch that went through the catcher’s legs into the backstop which gave the Lady Flames a 1-0 lead.
Freshman right fielder Deidra See stepped to the plate later in the inning and hit the first home run of her career, a two-run shot that smashed into the scoreboard over the centerfield wall to grab a 3-0 lead.
“If (the pitch) was close, I was ready to crush it,” See said. “All I was thinking in my head was just crush the ball. I didn’t think it was going out at first. It’s an indescribable feeling.”
The Lady Pirates responded in the top of the fourth inning with a three-run home run from sophomore designated player Jada Fields to tie the game 3-3.
The Lady Flames added a run in the fourth on an RBI single from senior shortstop Mickey Loveridge that scored freshman pinch runner Jasmine Click to give the Lady Flames a 4-3 edge.
The Lady Pirates scored three more runs in the top of the fifth to take a 6-4 lead. Freshman left fielder Hope Sobelewski hit an RBI single to bring home senior center fielder Diamond Ponds. Senior first baseman Taylor McCoy smashed a two-RBI double into deep centerfield that scored Sobelewski and junior shortstop Danielle Budden.
The Lady Pirates later added another run in the top of the sixth inning when Lady Flames senior pitcher Chandler Ball walked Sobelewski with the bases loaded to score sophomore third baseman Lorena Alvarez.
The Lady Flames notched one more run in the bottom of the sixth on an RBI single from Robertson that scored Loveridge, but they were not able to overcome the remaining deficit, dropping the contest 5-7.
After game one, Lady Flames Head Coach Dot Richardson told her team they needed to bounce back with more energy for their second outing of the afternoon. The Lady Flames answered the call, scoring a season-high 13 runs on their way to defeating the Lady Pirates 13-1.
“We had a challenge today to come back (after losing game one) and have that much energy,” Richardson said. “Our team is very young. We have a lot of freshmen and sophomores. This was a test for them.”
Game 2: Liberty 13, Hampton 1
Freshman Chase Cassady got the start on the mound in the second game for the Lady Flames, and she shut down the Lady Pirates, allowing only one run on four hits while striking out six batters.
“I was really excited for Chase,” Richardson said. “We want her to be ready for postseason play. I think we are really going to need her. She was feeling the intensity. You could see how tight she was spinning the ball. She looked like she was really into it, and that is what we need. It’s exciting to see her have a performance like she did today.”
The Lady Flames began the onslaught of runs in the first inning. See scored Robertson on an RBI single, followed by a two-RBI double from senior third baseman Kassidy McCoy, giving the Lady Flames a 3-0 lead.
The Lady Flames sent 10 batters out in the bottom half of the second inning, pouring on six more runs and stretching their lead to 9-0. Robertson continued her hot streak from the first game with a two-run double that scored freshman designated player Jaclyn Amader and sophomore center fielder Tori Zovodny.
Robertson scored on an RBI double from sophomore catcher Alexia Taylor. Taylor then plated on an RBI single from See the next at-bat. Sophomore left fielder Cassie Gingerich hit a two-run single to score See and McCoy.
The Lady Pirates finally broke into the box score in the top of the third inning on a double from Budden that scored freshman right fielder Kial Watts. But the Lady Flames never faltered and added more runs in the bottom of the third on a three-run homer from See, her second of the day.
Robertson continued her stellar performance in the bottom of the fourth, driving home Amader on an RBI single for the last run of the game and a 13-1 lead.
Richardson said she liked the way her team swung the bats in the second game and hopes her squad will continue their hot streak at the plate as they head back into conference play.
“It’s not always easy to hit pitching like that,” Richardson said. “I’m really proud of our hitting today and us executing and getting the runs in.”
The Lady Flames will visit conference opponent Longwood for a three-game series that begins April 5 at 3 p.m. in Farmville, Virginia.
Dillard is a sports reporter.