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Liberty to Take On No. 1 Texas Twice This Weekend at Longhorn Invitational

March 4, 2020  Lynchburg, Va.   RSS
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Liberty will compete in the Longhorn Invitational, Friday through Sunday.

Liberty will compete in the Longhorn Invitational, Friday through Sunday.

Complete Game Notes

Currently riding a six-game winning streak, Liberty (7-11) heads to Austin, Texas, for the Longhorn Invitational, Friday through Sunday. The Lady Flames open the tournament on Friday at 2:30 p.m. ET against Texas Southern and will face the host No. 1 Texas Longhorns and New Mexico twice each. Texas was ranked No. 1 by Softball America this week.

Liberty's Games at Longhorn Invitational
Friday, March 6 - 2:30 p.m. ET - Liberty vs. Texas Southern
Live Stats | Longhorn Network
Friday, March 6 - 5 p.m. ET - Liberty vs. No. 1 Texas Live Stats | Longhorn Network
Saturday, March 7 - 4 p.m. ET - Liberty vs. New Mexico Live Stats | Longhorn Network*
Saturday, March 7 - 6:30 p.m. ET - Liberty vs. No. 1 Texas Live Stats | Longhorn Network
Sunday, March 8 - 1 p.m. ET - Liberty vs. New Mexico Live Stats | Longhorn Network*
* - Liberty's games against New Mexico will be aired on a taped-delay basis on the Longhorn Network.

This is the second year in a row in which Liberty will play in Texas, as the Lady Flames went 3-2  at the 2019 Texas A&M Invitational. Liberty defeated then No. 19 Texas A&M 4-2 that weekend.

Liberty posted a 4-0 record in its home-opening Liberty Softball Classic last weekend, outhitting opponents .353-.147 while scoring 25 runs and allowing just four. The Bishop twins, Amber and Autumn, combined to go 11-for-20 with three doubles, five homers and 17 RBI last weekend. Liberty's top pitchers (Megan Johnson - 2-0, 0.64 ERA, .167 OBA; Karlie Keeney - 2-0, 1.00 ERA, .140 OBA) combined to shut down the opponents at the Liberty Softball Classic.

Liberty went 2-2 two weeks ago at the Gamecock Invitational in Columbia, S.C. Facing a 5-1 deficit to No. 6 Michigan on Feb. 23, Amber Bishop hit a three-run homer in the fifth before Bishop's walk-off solo shot gave Liberty a 6-5 win. It was Liberty's 11th win all-time over a Top 25 opponent and tied the highest-ranked opponent the Lady Flames have ever beaten.

Amber Bishop was named ASUN Softball Player of the Week for the second week in a row after hitting hit .600 with four homers, nine RBI and five runs scored. She set the program record with her 250th career hit on Friday against Hofstra and added her fifth career two-homer game against Elon.

For the second year in a row, Liberty was predicted to win the ASUN in the preseason coaches poll. Additionally, Amber Bishop, Autumn Bishop and Madison Via were all named to the ASUN Preseason Softball All-Conference team.

Three-time NFCA All-Region player Amber Bishop bats .400 with a conference-best eight homers and 18 RBI. 2019 ASUN All-Freshman Team member Kara Canetto, who missed the final half of the 2019 season with injury, hits .364 with a team-high five doubles. Freshmen Caroline Hudson (.294), Blake Gibson (.273) and Savannah Channell (.250) have provided a spark offensively. Three-time first team all-conference player Autumn Bishop has hit .203 with 14 RBI (second on team) so far, while two-time all-conference outfielder Madison Via has batted .234 with five steals.

In the circle, Liberty has had to replace its two top starters from last year, when the Lady Flames ranked fifth in the nation with a 1.60 team ERA. Freshman Karlie Keeney is 4-4 with a 2.91 ERA,  and she has gone 3-2 with a 1.78 ERA and .181 opponents batting average in her last six appearances. That includes games against top 10 opponents Florida State and Michigan. Junior college transfer Megan Johnson (3-3, 4.67) is 3-0 with a 2.33 ERA in her last three starts, including a two-hit shutout where she struck out a career-high eight batters against Elon on Sunday.

Team Notes
- Four teams (Alabama, Washington, UCLA and Texas) have been ranked No. 1 in at least one of the four major national polls at least once this season. After this weekend, Liberty will have played all four of those teams. No other team has all four of those teams on its schedule this season.

- Liberty has played 10 out of its first 18 games against Top 25 opponents. The Lady Flames downed No. 21 Ole Miss on Feb. 9 before taking down No. 6 Michigan on Feb. 23.

- Liberty faced the No. 1 teams in back-to-back games, losing a late lead to No. 1 Washington in a 10-6 setback on Feb. 14 before falling to No. 1 UCLA ( 9-1 on Feb. 15.

- After posting a 6.08 team ERA through the first 10 games of the 2020 season, Liberty's pitchers combined for a 2.02 ERA and .184 opponents batting average in the last eight games.

- Through the first 12 games this season, Liberty was batting .206 while averaging 2.1 runs per game. After shaking up their lineup Feb. 23 against Michigan, the Lady Flames have batted .359 and scored a combined 43 runs (7.1 runs per game) in its next six games, all wins.

- Liberty is 2-8 against Top 25 teams this season after downing No. 6 Michigan on Feb. 23. That ties Liberty's highest-ranked win, as the Lady Flames also defeated Michigan on March 24, 2007 when the Wolverines were ranked No. 6. Liberty is 0-23 all-time against Top 5 teams.

- Liberty set program records for Top 25 meetings and Top 25 wins in 2007, when the Lady Flames went 3-9 against nationally-ranked opponents.

- Liberty competed in the St. Pete/Clearwater Elite Invitational Feb. 13-16, falling to five teams who appeared in the Top 10 in at least one poll that week. The Lady Flames led No. 1 Washington 6-5 after Caroline Hudson's three-run homer off of All-American Gabbie Plain in the fifth inning before the Huskies rallied in the sixth to win 10-6, Feb. 14.