Box Score The third-seeded Longwood Lancers held off No. 1 seed Liberty, 4-2, in the championship game of the 2017 Big South Softball Championship Game, Sunday at Lancer Field.
The host Lancers (28-27) won their third Big South softball title in a row, and fourth in five years competing in the conference. The Lady Flames (38-22) finish as Big South runner-up for the fifth time in program history. Longwood has earned the Big South's automatic bid to the 2017 NCAA Division I Softball Championship. Liberty will be invited to compete in the 2017 NISC. The announcement for the NISC will take place 1-2 hours after the 10 p.m. NCAA Tournament selection show.
Liberty junior third baseman Alexia Taylor, sophomore catcher Kaitlin McFarland and freshman second baseman Amber Bishop were all named to the Big South All-Tournament Team. Longwood's Elizabeth McCarthy was named Big South Tournament MVP, and was joined on the All-Tournament team by teammates Justina Augustine, Kaylynn Batten and Jordan Clark.
McCarthy (14-8) went the distance, allowing two runs (one earned) on five hits, striking out four and walking two.
Elizabeth Engler (2-3) drew the loss, allowing four runs (two earned) on four hits with four strikeouts and two walks in 2 1/3 innings pitched. Chase Cassady pitched 4 2/3 innings of relief, yielding three hits while walking one and striking out two.
Karleigh Donovan went 2-for-4, while Krista Kelly and Jessica Smith both recorded one double and one RBI.
McFarland batted 2-for-3 with a double, one RBI and one run scored for Liberty. Amber Bishop, Tori Zavodny and Jasmeen Click all had one hit apiece.
Engler struck out three batters in the top of the first, working around a one-out walk to Batten.
Liberty staged a two-out rally in the first stanza. Zavodny hit an infield single before Taylor reached on a throwing error. Robertson then drew a walk, loading the bases. Jaclyn Amader lined to short, ending the inning.
The Lancers took a 1-0 lead during their second time up, as back-to-back doubles by Krista Kelly and Jessica Smith produced the game's first run. Engler then got the next two batters out via popout and groundout.
The Lady Flames capitalized on a pair of Longwood errors in the second frame. McFarland reached on an error before Click beat out a bunt single. A fielder's choice left runners on the corners with two outs. Autumn Bishop took off for second, and catcher Kaylynn Batten's throw sailed into center, allowing McFarland to score from third. Amber Bishop flied out to right, keeping the score at 1-1.
Cassady came on in relief of Engler with the bases loaded and one out in the top of the third. Walters grounded back to Cassady, whose throw went past the catcher, allowing two runs to score. Kelly gave Longwood a 4-1 lead with a squeeze bunt. The next two Lancers popped out.
Longwood saw a scoring opportunity go by the boards in the fourth, as Augustine singled and Batten walked with one out. Jordan Clark then grounded into a double play.
Liberty had its best chance to score in the bottom of the sixth. Sarah Robertson drew a leadoff walk before Taylor Hoffman reached on a fielder's choice. Deidra See sent a grounder that second baseman Destiny Martinez dove to get, throwing see out at first. McFarland then came through with a two-out RBI double, making it 4-2. Click grounded to third for the final out.
After a 1-2-3 Longwood seventh, Liberty's top of the order came up. Autumn Bishop flied out to left, before Amber Bishop grounded to first base. Tori Zavodny fouled out, and Longwood celebrated its title.
2017 Big South All-Tournament Team Elizabeth McCarthy, Longwood (MVP) Justina Augustine, Longwood Kaylynn Batten, Longwood Jordan Clark, Longwood Amber Bishop, Liberty Alexia Taylor, Liberty Kaitlin McFarland, Liberty Kiley Majette, Winthrop Paige Haley, Winthrop Amber Schisler, Campbell Melissa Tullar, Campbell