Box Score Trailing 2-0 entering the fourth inning, No. 1 seed Liberty scored nine straight runs, downing No. 3 seed Longwood, 9-3 in game one of the 2017 Big South Softball Championship final round.
With the win, Liberty (38-21) forced a winner-take-all final against Longwood (27-27), tomorrow at 1 p.m. at Lancer Field. The winner of tomorrow's game will earn the conference's automatic qualifying bid for the 2017 NCAA Division I Softball Championship.
Liberty had to play three games today, beginning with a 7-4 loss to Longwood. The Lady Flames then eliminated Winthrop, 9-3, before taking tonight's championship-round game against Longwood by the same score.
The Lady Flames are looking for their third Big South Tournament title, and first since 2011. Longwood is aiming for its third championship in a row, and fourth in five years as a Big South member.
Liberty's Chase Cassady (5-5) earned the win, allowing one run on three hits in five relief innings, while striking out one and walking two. Starter Stephanie Marlowe went two innings, giving up two runs on one hit and allowing four walks.
Sydney Gay (14-14) drew the loss, yielding eight runs (seven earned) on six hits, with four walks and three strikeouts in six innings of work. Sydney Mundell pitched one inning, giving up one hit and one run.
Amber Bishop went 2-for-3 with two RBI and two runs scored, while Tori Zavodny batted 2-for-4. Alexia Taylor went 1-for-3 with two RBI, while Autumn Bishop batted 1-for-3 with two runs scored. Kaitlin McFarland doubled and drove in one run.
Justina Augustine batted 1-for-4 with a homer, while Kaylynn Batten (1-for-3) hit a double and scored one run.
The Lancers manufactured a run in the bottom of the second. Marlowe walked Glenn Walters and Krista Kelly to start the inning. A sacrifice sent both runners ahead. Kasey Carr then flied out to left, plating Walters for a 1-0 lead. Destiny Martinez then lined out to left.
Augustine hit a leadoff home run during the home half of the third, doubling Longwood's lead to 2-0. Marlowe issued a walk to Batten before Cassady came on in relief. Cassady got the final three outs via the air.
Liberty batted around in the top of the fourth. Gay hit Autumn Bishop with a pitch. Consecutive singles by Amber Bishop and Tori Zavodny loaded the bases with nobody out. Alexia Taylor lined out to second, with Autumn Bishop scoring on the play. Robertson reached on an error, scoring one run. Zavodny later scored on a squeeze bunt by Jaclyn Amader. A wild pitch sent Robertson home with a 4-2 lead for Liberty. Jasmeen Click grounded out for the third out.
The first two Lancers reached base in the bottom of the fourth, on a single and an error. A sac bunt sent both runners ahead. Cassady then struck out pinch hitter Leanna Toler before getting Augustine to fly out.
A single by Autumn Bishop and a walk to Amber Bishop put Liberty in business to start the fifth. Zavodny sent the runners ahead with a groundout. Gay got out of the jam unscathed with two flyouts.
The Lancers nearly tied the game in the bottom of the fifth. Clark singled, and a hit batter and a walk loaded the bases with two outs. Jessica Smith flared one into shallow right-center field, which Amber Bishop tracked down to preserve Liberty's 4-2 advantage.
Liberty added four two-out runs during the sixth stanza. Two walks and a hit batter loaded the bases with two outs. Amber Bishop then hit a two-run single, and Zavodny and Taylor followed with RBI singles of their own to boost the lead to 8-2.
After a 1-2-3 Longwood sixth, Liberty added an insurance run off of reliever Mundell in the seventh. Mundell hit Jaclyn Amader with a pitch, and McFarland hit an RBI double for a 9-2 lead.
Batten led off the bottom of the seventh with a double to left. Jordan Clark then drew a walk. With runners on the corners and one out, Glenn Walters flied out to deep left, scoring Batten from third. Jaclyn Amader threw Karleigh Donovan out at second on the play, ending the game.