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Lady Flames Head to California for Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic

February 20, 2018  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Lady Flames Head to California for Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic

Complete Game Notes

Liberty brings an 8-1 record to the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic. The Lady Flames tied a program record by winning their first six games of the season, and look to carry that momentum against a challenging field that includes North Carolina, San Diego State, UC Davis and nationally-ranked UCLA (No. 3/4) and Arizona State (No. 17/15).

How to Follow the Lady Flames
All games for the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic can be viewed live through FloSoftball, for a subscription cost. Also, live stats will be available. Fans can also follow live tweets from @LibertySB and @LibertyFlames.

Led by 2017 Big South Coach of the Year Dot Richardson, the defending NISC champion Lady Flames have outscored opponents, 53-17, so far. Liberty boasts a .318 batting average, 5.9 runs per game and 3.3 steals per game. The Lady Flames also have posted a 1.81 team ERA and four shutouts.

Junior Julia DiMartino, reigning Big South Pitcher of the Year, is 4-1 with a 1.45 ERA, 44 strikeouts, three shutouts, two saves and a .131 opponents batting average in 29 innings. Chase Cassady holds a 3-0 record with a 0.90 ERA and one shutout.

Tori Zavodny bats .448 with a team-leading three triples, nine RBI and five stolen bases, while Autumn Bishop (.382) leads the team with 11 runs scored. Taylor Hoffman bats .353, while Kaitlin McFarland (.350) boasts a .519 on-base percentage. Jaclyn Amader hits .345, and Sarah Robertson (.333) and Amber Bishop (.310) have four doubles each.

Quick Hits
- Liberty shut out its first three opponents for the second time in program history.

- Liberty was picked to finish second in the Big South preseason poll. Julia DiMartino is Preseason Pitcher of the Year, and Amber Bishop is Preseason Player of the Year.

- Liberty had a program-record four players named to the NFCA All-Region team in 2017.

Top 25 Challenge
The Liberty softball team has competed against top 25 teams 59 times in program history, posting a 6-53 record versus nationally-ranked opponents.

Liberty went 0-6 against ranked opponents last year, falling to then No. 6/5 UCLA, No. 3/3 Florida, No. 2/3 Auburn (twice) and No. 19/19 Tennessee (twice).

In 2007, Liberty knocked off No. 23 Hawai'i, No. 10 Baylor and No. 6 Michigan. The Lady Flames' 2-0 win over No. 6 Michigan, March 24, 2007, marks the highest-ranked team that Liberty has beaten in softball and the team's most recent victory over a nationally-ranked team.

UCLA Connections
Fourth-year Head Coach Dot Richardson was a legendary shortstop for UCLA from 1981-83, helping the Bruins win their first NCAA softball title in 1982. She was named the NCAA Softball Player of the 1980's, before later winning two Olympic Gold Medals in 1996 and 2000.

Richardson was a teammate of current UCLA assistant coach Lisa Fernandez on Team USA for both the 1996 and 2000 Olympics. Richardson and Fernandez have both been inducted into the UCLA Athletics and ASA/USA Softball National Halls of Fame.

The Lady Flames made their first-ever NCAA Regional Appearance in 2002, meeting then-No. 1 UCLA in the first round. The top-seeded Bruins broke a scoreless tie in the fifth inning on the way to a 3-0 win, in a game played in Columbia, S.C.

Lady Flames in California
This will be the fourth trip to California all-time for the Liberty softball team, and first time in program history that they have gone to California in back-to-back years.

A program-record seven Lady Flames hail from California this season. This is the second year in a row that California has been the most represented state on the roster.

On the Streaks
The 2017 NISC Champion Lady Flames had the nation's second-longest active winning streak at the time, winning 11 straight games dating from the end of the 2017 season until falling to Central Michigan last Thursday.

Liberty went on a program-record 13-game winning streak from April 2 through 18, 2017. That streak saw Liberty outscore opponents, 80-6, while tossing nine shutouts.

Good All-Around
Liberty entered the week ranked 32nd in the nation in fielding percentage (.976), 34th in batting average (.318) and 41st in ERA (1.81). The Lady Flames are one of 10 teams to rank in the top 41 in the nation in all three categories entering the week.

Shutting the Door
The Lady Flames shut out their first three opponents this year, Fairleigh Dickinson, Morgan State and Chattanooga, tying the team's longest shutout streak (1995) to start a season.

Julia DiMartino has tossed two one-hitters (vs. FDU, Feb. 9, vs. Delaware State, Feb. 16) and one two-hitter (vs. Chattanooga, Feb. 10) in her four starts so far, and added a six-out save against Toledo. Chase Cassady pitched a three-hitter against Morgan State on Feb. 9.

Blazing the Basepaths
Liberty has taken the extra base nearly at will this season, entering the week tied for fourth in the nation in both stolen bases per game (3.33) and triples per game (0.89). Last year, the Lady Flames set a new program record with 96 stolen bases in 70 games, and the team has stolen 30 bases through nine games this year.

The Lady Flames tied a program record with eight stolen bases on Feb. 10 against Chattanooga, highlighted by two steals each from Autumn Bishop and Jasmeen Click. Nine different Lady Flames have at least one stolen base so far.

Don't Go Away
Four times last year, Liberty overcame a seventh-inning deficit while going on to win the game. The Lady Flames pulled off their first seventh-inning comeback of the season last Friday against Central Michigan. Trailing, 3-2, in the top of the seventh, 2017 Big South Freshman of the Year Amber Bishop hit a game-tying solo homer. Tori Zavodny then gave Liberty the win with a go-ahead triple in the ninth.

DiMartino Named Big South Pitcher of the Week
Julia DiMartino was named Big South Pitcher of the Week on Feb. 12. She is the first player in program history to be named Big South Pitcher of the Week as a freshman, sophomore and junior.

She is 4-1 with a 1.45 ERA, three shutouts and 10.6 strikeouts per seven innings. She is tied for second in the nation in shutouts and 16th in shutouts per seven innings entering the week.

First Things First
For the second year in a row, a Liberty freshman hit 2-for-3 in her first career game. In last year's season opener, Amber Bishop went 2-for-3 with a double versus Chattanooga. Last Friday against Fairleigh Dickinson, freshman Madison Via batted 2-for-3.

Last Saturday against Toledo, freshman Emily Kirby earned the win in relief, her first collegiate appearance. Teammate Elizabeth Engler won in her first two collegiate pitching appearances in 2017. Kirby became the first Liberty lefthanded pitcher to throw a pitch in a game since Dana Wheeler against Coastal Carolina, April 12, 2008.

Triple the Fun
So far this season, Liberty averages 0.89 triples per game, good for fourth in the nation.

Tori Zavodny is tied for third nationally with three triples, while Jaclyn Amader and Autumn Bishop are tied for eighth with two triples each.

Sister Act
The Bishop twins, Amber and Autumn, played a major role for the Lady Flames as freshmen last year. Both were voted Big South Freshman of the Week three times each.

Amber batted .373 and set nine program freshman records and was named a top 25 finalist for the NFCA National Freshman of the Year.

Autumn was an NFCA All-Region first team utility player, batting .381 with 15 doubles and a .473 on-base percentage. She has started the 2018 season on a tear, hitting .382 while scoring 1.22 runs per game.

Player Quick Hits
- After batting .315 as a freshman in 2016, Jaclyn Amader slipped to .204 last season. She has bounced back so far this year, batting .345 with a double, two triples, one homer and six RBI.

- Autumn Bishop has the longest active hitting streak on the team, having hit safely in her last 11 games played, going back to the end of the 2017 season.

- Rylee Reynolds made her first collegiate pitching appearance on Feb. 11 against Detroit Mercy, getting a game-ending double play in the seventh. A junior, she is a career .280 hitter in 77 games.

- Sarah Robertson tied for second in the Big South with 16 doubles last season, including a program-record-tying three doubles, March 11 against NC Central.

- Jasmeen Click hit a walk-off, RBI single on April 26, giving Liberty a 7-6 win over Longwood and clinching the Big South regular-season title.

- Alexia Taylor batted .391 with 19 RBI in conference play last season. Her 12-game hitting streak in April was the second longest by a Lady Flame in 2017.

- Jr. 1B Deidra See tied a program single-season record with her fourth sacrifice fly, April 15, 2017 at Gardner-Webb. She is tied for third in program history with six career sac flies.

- Kaitlin McFarland earned her first career individual honor, being named to the 2017 Big South All-Tournament team. She then carried her hot hitting into the NISC Regional, where she hit a two-run homer in a 3-0 win over Ohio. McFarland leads the team with a .519 OBP and seven walks.

Moving on Up
Alexia Taylor has hit two sacrifice flies this year, and is now tied with Kaylee West (2009-12) for the program record with eight career sac flies. She also became the ninth player in program history to drive in more than 100 career runs.

The following players rank in the top 10 in program history in at least one career category.

Tori Zavodny - 3rd in runs (145), 3rd in steals (72), t-2nd in triples (14), 4th in walks (79), t-2nd in sac flies (6)

Alexia Taylor - 6th in doubles (38), 9th in RBI (103), 8th in hits (188)

Julia DiMartino - 3rd in shutouts (17), t-7th in wins (43), 8th in strikeouts (406)

Deidra See - t-2nd in sac flies (6)

Sarah Robertson and Autumn Bishop - t-8th in triples (5)

100 Club
Liberty senior Alexia Taylor and junior Sarah Robertson are two of just five Lady Flames all-time to reach the 100-hit plateau as sophomores. With 94 career hits already, sophomore Amber Bishop should soon become the sixth player in program history to record her 100th career hit as a sophomore.