Julia DiMartino tossed her seventh career shutout, as the No. 3 seed Liberty Lady Flames opened the 2016 Big South Softball Championship with a 4-0 victory over sixth-seeded Presbyterian, Wednesday night at Winthrop's Terry Field.
With the win, Liberty (31-26) advances to face No. 2 seed Coastal Carolina tomorrow at 4:30 p.m. The Blue Hose (24-27) will meet No. 7 seed Charleston Southern in an elimination game tomorrow at 11:30 a.m. Liberty is now 2-1 all-time against PC in conference tournament play.
DiMartino (17-11) allowed just four hits, striking out 12 and walking three. DiMartino's 12 strikeouts were the most ever by a Lady Flame in a Big South Tournament contest. It was Liberty's ninth postseason shutout, and first since May 13, 2011, when Katrina Johnson shut out Gardner-Webb.
Sydney Seigler (11-13) drew the loss, allowing two runs on four hits, while striking out three in four innings pitched. Katie Brown yielded two unearned runs in two innings of work.
Tori Zavodny batted 2-for-3 with a double, one stolen base and two RBI, while Kassidy McCoy went 1-for-3 with a homer and one RBI. Sarah Robertson went 1-for-2 with a double and one RBI.
Hope Rogers went 2-for-3 for PC, while Megan Anderson and Jordan Ashley had one hit apiece.
DiMartino struck out the side in the top of the first, working around a two-out single.
Zavodny led off Liberty's first time at bat with a single. She was stranded on the bases after Seigler retired the next three batters.
With two outs in the bottom of the third, Zavodny lined a double to left-center field. A wild pitch sent her to third. Robertson put Liberty on the board with an opposite-field RBI double. Second baseman Erin Ruff made a diving catch up the middle for the third out.
Anderson drew a one-out walk in the fourth. Pinch runner Jonnie Petree stole second, but DiMartino got out of the inning with a popout and strikeout.
The Blue Hose put two runners on base during the top of the fifth, on a single by Ashley and a two-out walk to Ruff. DiMartino kept the shutout in order, fanning Kylie Young.
McCoy led off the home half of the fifth stanza with a solo shot to left, boosting Liberty's lead to 2-0. Brown came on in relief of Seigler, walking a pair. Two more runs scored on a throwing error with two outs.
Rogers and Anderson hit back-to-back singles to start the sixth inning. DiMartino got the next three out on a flyout and two popouts.
DiMartino completed the shutout with a 1-2-3 seventh inning, striking out Madison Longanecker and Ruff for the final two outs.