Wins and losses greet Lady Flames at the Liberty Softball Classic

The final game of the Liberty Softball Classic Saturday, March 10, proved to be a close one as Liberty and Ohio University went neck and neck until the Lady Flames were able to clinch the 2-1 win by pulling ahead in the fifth inning.

The tournament began Thursday, March 8, and the Lady Flames played five games in three days, earning a collective 3-2 record against Baylor, Delaware and Ohio throughout the weekend.

After a hard 9-0 loss to No. 12 ranked Baylor University Saturday morning, Liberty continued its doubleheader against Ohio that night.

“Baylor is a great team and coming back from having no runs and one hit, it’s hard,” sophomore infielder Amber Bishop said. “I think we all just wanted to come out and show everybody we were actually here to play and here to win.”

Bishop said the dugout environment was very intense and the team’s strategy was just to make runs happen as both teams were tied 1-1 from the end of the first inning until the fifth.

Stakes were at their highest when Ohio runners had bases loaded in the top of the fifth inning and Liberty junior pitcher Julia DiMartino struck out Ohio’s Mikayla Cooper.

The game turned around after those runs were deflected and spirits rose in the bottom of the fifth when senior Tori Zavodny hit a left outfield ball under the pressure of three balls and two outs to make it on first base. Junior infielder Sarah Robertson got Zavodny on second base, and then junior outfielder Jaclyn Amader hit a double to right outfield to send Zavodny in to home plate.

“When Jaclyn did that, I was so excited because I know she has been on the ball all day,” Bishop said. “She has been hitting rockets and I was just thrilled for her.”

Dimartino called the hit a game-changer and said her team needed to score that run, because when the score is tied, she feels like she cannot miss a pitch. She was able to solidly close out the seventh after another scoreless sixth inning with three quick strikeouts to win a hard-fought game. Liberty head softball coach Dot Richardson noted that Ohio played three separate pitchers in Saturday’s game or that Dimartino pitched two of the three wins of the weekend’s tournament.

“Jules saw Ohio twice and they saw her twice.” Richardson said. “That’s hard and it’s hard to deal with. The advantage goes to the batter the more you see a pitcher, and that’s why you saw Ohio put up three different pitchers – so that was just a strategy on their side. I just want to make sure we are bringing the intensity and challenging our pitchers.”

Richardson said that Liberty bounced back from the morning’s game against Baylor quickly and was able to fight well against Ohio, who brought a competitive game and had momentum coming off a morning win. Before Liberty’s second Saturday game, Richardson reminded her team to look forward because their previous game was in the past.

“The worst thing that could have happened is for them to mope and say ‘I didn’t get a hit,’ and take it into this game,” Richardson said. “Ohio is too good to do that, and I was really pleased that they didn’t.”

With a long weekend of competition wrapped up and a new record of 17-7 claimed, the Lady Flames are confident going into their next matchup at University of Virginia Wednesday, March 14.

“This was a great win and I am very pleased,” Richardson said. “We are pretty excited and it’s just gearing up to conference and conference championship. And if we do it right, hopefully postseason.”

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