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Liberty to Host Virginia in Final Non-Conference Games of Regular Season, Tuesday

April 30, 2018  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Liberty to Host Virginia in Final Non-Conference Games of Regular Season, Tuesday

Complete Game Notes

Liberty (39-12, 15-3 Big South), the conference leader, enters the final week of the regular season riding a nine-game winning streak and program-record-tying 13-game home winning streak. The Lady Flames host Virginia (12-39, 3-21 ACC) for a doubleheader on Tuesday, beginning at 4 p.m. The Cavaliers look to end their regular season on a winning note, having lost 12 in a row. The Lady Flames will play their final five regular-season games this week, all at home, hosting Winthrop on Friday and Saturday to wrap up Big South play.

The Lady Flames posted three shutouts last week, outscoring opponents, 21-0 while outhitting them, .413 to .133. Julia DiMartino tied program single-season records with her eighth shutout and 22nd win of the season in an 8-0 win over North Carolina on Wednesday, and Chase Cassady (two-hitter) and Emily Kirby (three-hitter) tossed back-to-back shutouts at Hampton on Thursday. This is the first time since 1996 (Susan Naylor, Katie Phillips, Carrie Rodgers, Robin Richards) that four different Lady Flames have tossed a shutout in the same season.

At 39-12, the Lady Flames are the most wins over .500, 27, that they have been at any point in program history. With one more win, Liberty would secure its fourth-ever 40-win season, and second in a row. Entering this week, only 12 NCAA Division I teams have won 40 or more games this year.

Led by 2017 Big South Coach of the Year Dot Richardson, the defending NISC and Big South regular-season champion Lady Flames bat .298 as a team, averaging 5.0 runs per game. The Lady Flames hold a 2.26 team ERA, tossing a Big South-best 15 shutouts. Liberty also leads the conference with a .975 fielding percentage. During their current nine-game winning streak, the Lady Flames have outscore opponents, 49-8, outhitting them, .330-.168 while tossing five shutouts.

Junior Julia DiMartino, reigning Big South Pitcher of the Year, is 22-7 with a 1.98 ERA, leading the Big South in strikeouts (185), shutouts (8), saves (6) and opponents' batting average (.199). Elizabeth Engler is 7-2 with a Big South-best 1.83 ERA, while Chase Cassady holds an 8-2 record with a 2.62 ERA. Both Cassady (3) and Engler (2) have tossed multiple shutouts this season.

Autumn Bishop bats .378 and is in the top five nationally with a program-record-tying 21 doubles (t-4th) and program-record seven sacrifice flies (t-1st). Autumn Bishop's 20-game hitting streak earlier this season was the third longest in program history. Amber Bishop sports a .371 batting average, with a team-leading 10 homers and 35 RBI. Jaclyn Amader (.306) ranks sixth in the nation with six triples, while Sarah Robertson (.289) is third on the team in doubles (12) and RBI (28).

Quick Hits
- Julia DiMartino is riding a 33 2/3 inning shutout streak.

- 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's current RPI, 33, is the seventh best among teams outside of the Power 5 conferences.

- The Lady Flames are 4-1 against ACC opponents this season (2-0 vs. UNC, 1-1 vs. Virginia Tech, 1-0 vs. NC State), and 9-2 versus the ACC dating back to the start of 2017.

- Liberty has won its last 13 home games in a row, tying a program record (4/12/99-3/22/00).

- The Lady Flames have not allowed a run in their last 20 2/3 innings pitched as a team.

Liberty vs. Virginia
Virginia (12-39, 3-21 ACC) wraps up its season on Tuesday, looking to snap a 12- game winless streak. The Cavaliers are 0-3 against Big South teams this year (Campbell, Radford, Longwood).

Virginia has hit 51 homers as a team, led by two-time VaSID all-state selection Allison Davis (.368, 11 HR, 40 RBI). Olivia Gott (.297) has hit 10 homers, while Hayley Busby (.284) has registered 12 doubles and 29 RBI. Two-time VaSID all-state player Danni Ingraham hits .267 with nine homers and 27 RBI. Erika Osherow leads UVA with six wins, also hitting .337 with 21 RBI.

Virginia has a pair of twins, freshmen Molly Keshin and Rachel Keshin. This will be the second opponent with twins this season (Arizona State - Kindra Hackbarth and Maddi Hackbarth).

Liberty vs. Virginia - 2017 Series Recap
Liberty shut out Virginia on back-to-back days in two separate cities last year.

Julia DiMartino tossed an eight-hit shutout on April 11 in front of a stadium-record 954 fans at Liberty Softball Stadium, as Liberty won, 4-0. Tori Zavodny went 2-for-2 with two runs scored, and Amber Bishop batted 1-for-2 with a homer and two RBI.

The next night, Kenzie Friesen pitched a two-hitter at The Park in Charlottesville, as Liberty prevailed, 3-0. Emily Sweat went 2-for-4 with a double and one RBI for Liberty.

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 Lady Flames have clinched their 13th 30-win season in program history, and third in a row.

Entering Tuesday's action, a total of 12 NCAA Division I teams have won 40 or more games (Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Michigan, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas A&M, UCLA, UNCG and Washington).

Team Notes
- Liberty's 8-0, five-inning win over North Carolina last Wednesday was the second run-rule victory over an ACC opponent in program history (May 3, 2011, 8-0 in five innings over Virginia).

- 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 (3), Autumn Bishop (3) and Madison Via (2) have multiple three-hit games. 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 15 shutouts so far this season, chasing 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, April 17 against Virginia Tech was the first grand slam hit by a Lady Flame in Liberty Softball Stadium history.   

- 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 or tied five program individual single-season records so far this year: sacrifice flies (Autumn Bishop - 7), saves (Julia DiMartino - 6), doubles (Autumn Bishop - 21 (tied)), wins (DiMartino - 22 (tied)) and shutouts (DiMartino - 8 (tied)).

- The Lady Flames have stolen 23 bases over their last six games, pushing their season total to 85. Liberty set a program record with 96 stolen bases last year.

Honors All Around
Julia DiMartino was named Big South Pitcher of the Week, last 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, last 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, SisterOn 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, April 17 against Virginia Tech.

 

Pitching Spotlight
Liberty's pitching has been strong all season, and is getting even better lately. In their last 11 games, the Lady Flames have posted a 0.75 ERA, six shutouts and a .189 opponents' batting average. In that span, Julia DiMartino is 4-1 with a 0.37 ERA, three saves and 41 strikeouts, while Chase Cassady is 3-0 with a 1.42 ERA and a .185 OBA and Elizabeth Engler is 1-1 with a 1.45 ERA.

DiMartino has tossed a conference-best eight shutouts this season, giving her 22 for her career. With 61 career wins, DiMartino is one win shy of tying Katie Phillips' (1996-99) career program record. She is also one shutout away from matching Phillips' career record.

Chase Cassady (3) and Elizabeth Engler both have multiple shutouts this season. Engler (four-hitter) and Cassady (two-hitter) both shut out Gardner-Webb on March 21.

Emily Kirby tossed her first career shutout, a three-hitter, last Thursday at Hampton.

Double-Double
Liberty leads the Big South with 82 doubles, tying for 12th nationally.

After hitting 15 doubles in 2017, Autumn Bishop is tied for fourth in the nation with 21 doubles in 2018. She is the first player in program history with 15 or more doubles in back-to-back years.

Sarah Robertson led the Lady Flames with 16 doubles last year, including a program-record-tying three doubles against NC Central on March 11, 2017. Amber Bishop has hit 15 doubles this season, tied for second in the conference while Robertson is third on the team with 12 two-base hits.

Milestones Abound
Liberty senior Alexia Taylor and junior Sarah Robertson were the fourth and fifth Lady Flames all-time to reach the 100-hit plateau as sophomores. Sophomore Amber Bishop joined them in the 100-hit club, earning her 100th hit, a double, at No. 20/21 South Carolina on March 2. Autumn Bishop joined the 100-hit club on March 24 at Presbyterian.

Alexia Taylor is just the fourth player in program history with 200+ hits, 100+ runs and 100+ RBI, joining Ashley Williams (2005-08), Jessica Moore (2005-07) and Kelby Allen (2012-15).

Last week, Amber Bishop become the 10th player in program history to reach 100 career RBI, and first to do so as a sophomore. She is ranked 10th in program history with 101 career RBI.

Sarah Robertson scored her 100th career run, last Thursday at Hampton.