Complete Game Notes Big South-leading Liberty (36-12, 15-3 Big South), winner of six straight games overall and 12 consecutive home contests, hosts North Carolina (27-23) on Wednesday at 6 p.m. at Liberty Softball Stadium, before playing its final away games of the regular season, Thursday at Hampton (19-20).The Lady Flames downed the Tar Heels, 3-2, in nine innings on Feb. 22 at the Mary Nutter Classic, in their first meeting this season. Schedule Note: Thursday's doubleheader has experienced a time change. The first game between Liberty and Hampton at Hampton on Thursday will now take place at 3 p.m. instead of the original 2 p.m. start time.
Liberty went 4-0 last week, starting with a come-from-behind 6-3 win over Virginia Tech that saw Autumn Bishop hit the first Liberty grand slam in Liberty Softball Stadium history. The Lady Flames then outscored Charleston Southern, 18-4, during a three-game home sweep. As a result, Julia DiMartino was named Big South Pitcher of the Week, and Amber Bishop was tabbed Big South Player of the Week.
Led by 2017 Big South Coach of the Year Dot Richardson, the defending NISC and Big South regular-season champion Lady Flames bat .290 as a team, averaging 4.8 runs per game. The Lady Flames hold a 2.45 team ERA, tossing a Big South-best 12 shutouts. Liberty also leads the conference with a .973 fielding percentage.
Junior Julia DiMartino, reigning Big South Pitcher of the Year, is 21-7 with a 1.98 ERA, leading the Big South in, among others, wins (21), strikeouts (182), shutouts (7) and saves (6 - program record). Elizabeth Engler is 7-2 with a Big South-best 1.83 ERA, while Chase Cassady holds a 7-2 record with a 2.82 ERA. Both Engler and Cassady have tossed two shutouts this season.
Autumn Bishop bats .374 and is in the top five nationally with 19 doubles and six sacrifice flies. Autumn Bishop's 20-game hitting streak earlier this season was the third longest in program history. Amber Bishop sports a .366 batting average, with a team-leading nine homers and 33 RBI. Jaclyn Amader (.306) ranks sixth in the nation with six triples, while Sarah Robertson (.281) is third on the team in doubles (10) and RBI (27).
Quick Hits - Liberty was the first non-Power 5 Division I softball team to reach 30 wins this season.
- 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 earned its 700th win as a Division I program, Saturday against Charleston Southern.
- The Lady Flames are 2-0 vs. MEAC, 3-1 against ACC opponents this season.
- Liberty has won its last 12 home games in a row.
Liberty vs. North Carolina North Carolina (27-23) is second in the ACC Coastal Division standings, trailing Pittsburgh by a half-game. UNC is 1-1 against the Big South this season (1-0 vs. Winthrop; 0-1 vs. Liberty).
Kiani Ramsey leads UNC with a .390 average, followed by 2017 All-ACC second teamers Leah Murray (.366) and Taylor Wike (.354, 8 HR, 32 RBI). 2017 ACC Freshman of the Year Brittany Pickett is 25-9 with a 2.31 ERA and nine shutouts on the season.
Liberty erased one-run deficits in the bottom of the seventh and eighth against North Carolina, Feb. 22 at the Mary Nutter Classic. Jaclyn Amader scored the winning run on an overthrow of third base by Lynchburg native Megan Dray, giving Liberty the 3-2 win in nine innings.
Liberty vs. Hampton Hampton (19-20, 8-4 MEAC) will join the Big South for all sports starting in the 2018-19 academic year. The Lady Pirates are 0-2 against the Big South (Longwood, Gardner-Webb) in 2018.
DaSha Hill leads Hampton with a .432 batting average, while Alana VanDenburg (.338) and Kial Watts (.337) both bat over .300. Allyson Babinsack is 10-10 on the season with a 2.41 ERA
Liberty has won the last three meetings with Hampton, including a doubleheader sweep, April 4, 2017 at Liberty Softball Stadium. The Lady Flames won game one, 7-0, behind a four-hit shutout from Julia DiMartino, before posting a 13-1, five-inning victory in the nightcap.
First to 30 With its 3-2 win at Longwood on April 6, Liberty became the 13th NCAA Division I team, and first from a non-Power Five conference, to reach 30 wins (30-8). The previous 12 to make it to 30 wins this year included: Washington, Auburn, Georgia, Texas A&M, Tennessee, Florida, UCLA, South Carolina, Florida State, Arizona State, Oklahoma and LSU.
Liberty, at 36-12, is the most games over .500, 24, at any point in program history.
The Lady Flames have clinched their 13th 30-win season in program history, and third in a row.
Team Notes - Nine different Lady Flames have a three-hit game this season, led by Amber Bishop's six three-hit contests. Tori Zavodny (3), Taylor Hoffman (2), Amber Bishop (2) and Madison Via (2) have multiple three-hit games in 2018. Deidra See's 4-for-4 game at PC, March 24 was Liberty's first four-hit game of 2018, joining Amber Bishop (5/13/17 at Longwood) as current Lady Flames with a four-hit game.
- The Lady Flames have posted 12 shutouts so far this season, more than halfway to the program record of 20, set in 1999. Liberty blanked its first three opponents of the season for the first time since 1995.
- Liberty is now 8-4 in one-run games during the 2018 season after going 6-8 in such games last year. That includes two walk-off wins (Feb. 22 vs. North Carolina; March 17 vs. Campbell).
- Liberty has twice won games when trailing entering the seventh inning, and did it in back-to-back games, against Central Michigan (Feb. 16) and versus North Carolina (Feb. 22), both in nine innings. The Lady Flames are 2-2 in extra-inning games this year.
- Autumn Bishop's grand slam, last Tuesday against Virginia Tech was the first grand slam hit by a Lady Flame since Madison Kotchey's grand slam against Coastal Carolina, May 8, 2015.
- Liberty won its first 10 Big South games this season, setting a new program record with a 10-game conference winning streak.
- Liberty has set three program single-season records so far this year: team sacrifice flies (18), individual sacrifice flies (Autumn Bishop - 6) and individual saves (Julia DiMartino - 6).
- The Lady Flames stole 15 bases against Charleston Southern over the weekend, pushing their season total to 77. Liberty set a program record with 96 stolen bases last year.
Honors All Around Julia DiMartino was named Big South Pitcher of the Week on Monday for the third time this season and a program-record seventh time in her career. Chase Cassady (April 16) and Elizabeth Engler (March 26) have also been honored this year, making this the second year in a row, and third time in program history, that three Lady Flames have been named Big South Pitcher of the Week during the same season.
Amber Bishop was tabbed Big South Player of the Week on Monday, making her the first Lady Flame since Kelly Strickland (2009-10) to receive the honor as both a freshman and sophomore.
Autumn Bishop was named Big South Player of the Week on March 26 and April 2, the first Liberty player since Keely McMillon (2011) to receive Player of the Week honors in consecutive weeks.
Sister, Sister On April 6 at Longwood, both Amber and Autumn Bishop hit home runs in game one of a doubleheader. It marked the first time that both Bishop twins homered in the same game while at Liberty. They repeated the feat, last Tuesday against Virginia Tech.
Pitching Spotlight Liberty's pitching has been strong all season, and is getting even better lately. In their last eight games, the Lady Flames have posted a 0.98 ERA and .205 opponents' batting average. In that span, Julia DiMartino is 3-1 with a 0.42 ERA, three saves and 38 strikeouts, while Chase Cassady is 2-0 with a 1.91 ERA and a .185 OBA and Elizabeth Engler is 1-1 with a 1.45 ERA.
DiMartino has tossed a conference-best seven shutouts this season, giving her 21 for her career. With 60 career wins, exactly half of which are at Liberty Softball Stadium, DiMartino is two wins shy of tying Katie Phillips' (1996-99) career program record. She is also two shutouts away from matching Phillips' career record.
Chase Cassady and Elizabeth Engler both have two shutouts apiece this season. Engler (four-hitter) and Cassady (two-hitter) both shut out Gardner-Webb on March 21.
Like Us on Facebook
Follow Us on Twitter
Follow Us on Instagram