Liberty earned a spot in the NISC Regional final with a 3-0 shutout victory over Ohio, Wednesday at Liberty Softball Stadium.
The Lady Flames (40-22) will play in the championship game tomorrow at 1 p.m. against either Ohio, Iona or UNCW. They will play the winner of tomorrow's 10 a.m. loser's bracket final. Ohio falls to 40-17, including 1-1 at the NISC Regional.
Liberty secured its third 40-win season in program history, and needs one more win to tie the 1999 (41-25) and 2006 (41-23) teams for the program record. The Lady Flames' 16 shutouts this season are their most since a program-record 20 in 1999.
Kenzie Friesen (12-3) earned the win, allowing two hits while striking out four and walking one in 4 2/3 innings pitched. Julia DiMartino pitched the final 2 1/3 innings to earn her third save, striking out three and walking one.
Savannah Jo Dorsey (24-9) drew the loss, allowing two runs on one hit, striking out one and walking two in two innings. Danielle Stiene yielded one unearned run on four hits, fanning six and walking one in five innings of work.
Kaitlin McFarland went 2-for-3 with a homer, the first of her career, and two RBI. Tori Zavodny batted 1-for-2 with one RBI and one run scored.
For the Bobcats, Madison Claytor and Michaela Dorsey both had one hit, with Dorsey doubling.
The Lady Flames threatened to score in the top of the first. Jasmeen Click drew a walk and made it to second on an error with one out. Alexia Taylor then flied out to center before a Deidra See groundout quelled the rally.
Zavodny drew a leadoff walk in the second. Sarah Robertson sent her to second with a sacrifice bunt. After Zavodny stole third, McFarland blasted a two-run homer to left.
Stiene came on in relief of Savannah Jo Dorsey to start the third inning, pitching a 1-2-3 frame.
Friesen retired eight straight batters, spanning the first through fourth innings. Alex Day grounded to Friesen, who threw errantly to first, allowing Day to reach. The Liberty right-hander retired the next two batters to keep the shutout alive through four innings.
Claytor broke up Friesen's no-hit bid with a one-out single in the bottom of the fifth. After two outs, Dorsey doubled to put runners on second and third. DiMartino then entered the circle for Friesen. She struck out Cooper, maintaining Liberty's 2-0 lead.
Liberty tacked on a sixth-inning insurance run. Taylor singled to right with one on, going to second when Autumn Bishop was thrown out. Taylor later went to third on a dropped third strike. Zavodny dropped an RBI single into left field, scoring Taylor.
DiMartino walked Natalie Alvarez with two outs in the sixth, but Ohio failed to get another baserunner as Liberty's right-hander closed out the game.