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Winthrop Shuts Out Lady Flames to Open Series

April 25, 2008  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Shannon McKain and the Lady Flames dropped their Big South opener to Winthrop on Friday afternoon.

Shannon McKain and the Lady Flames dropped their Big South opener to Winthrop on Friday afternoon.

Early errors allowed Winthrop to take a lead it would never relinquish, as the Eagles opened up a Big South softball series with a 6-0 victory over Liberty, Friday afternoon, at the Liberty Softball Field.

With the victory, Winthrop ups its record to 31-17 on the year and 12-1 in Big South play. The win gave the Eagles their seventh-straight victory over a league opponent and their eighth conference shutout of the year.

The loss snaps Liberty's four-game winning streak, and the home team fell to 13-35-1 overall and 3-7 in conference action. The setback was also the Lady Flames' fifth-straight against a league opponent.

The Eagles took advantage of a Liberty fielding error to open up a one-run lead in the second. Jo-Lynn Smith began the inning with a single to left, followed by a fly ball to center by Lenny Stoddart. But the ball kept drifting on Amber DePasquale, falling out of the freshman's glove to give Winthrop a pair of base runners.

Carole Reda advanced both Eagles 60 feet with a sacrifice bunt, followed by a groundout to second by Sarah Magee, which allowed Smith to score the game's first run.

A pair of errors on the same play cost Liberty in the top of the fourth, as Winthrop added to its lead off the miscues. Starting pitcher Tiffani Smith retired the first two batters of the inning with fly outs to DePasquale in center.

Magee grounded to second on what looked to be the third out of the frame, but the ball got under the glove of Cassie Hendrix. The Lady Flames compounded the miscue when Jenna Eatmon's throw back into the infield was errant, allowing Magee to take second.

No. 9 batter Pearl Coleshill took advantage of the extra at bat, singling into the gap in left center to drive in Magee from second and stake the visitors to a 2-0 lead.

Winthrop continued to add to its lead in the top of the fifth inning. Stephanie Reid reached base on a fielder's choice play, followed directly by a Mallory Hogan single up the middle.

Smith was struck by a pitch to load the bases. Lenny Stoddart then doubled to the fence in left center, plating Reid and pinch runner Erica Spradley to push Winthrop's advantage to four runs, 4-0.

Winthrop plated two insurance runs in the top of the seventh, thanks to two more fielding errors by Liberty. Hogan and Smith reached base on back-to-back singles to left and later scored on consecutive fielding errors by Liberty's left side of the infield to give the visitors their final six-run margin.

The remainder of the game belonged to Megan Evans, as the lefty upped her record to 16-6 on the season with six shutout innings of work. The sophomore scattered five hits over seven innings of work, walking one and fanning four batters. Izzy Trottier retired all three batters she faced in the seventh, to record the Eagles eighth combined shutout of the year.

Tiffani Smith suffered the loss to fall to 4-11, as she allowed six runs, two of which were earned, on nine hits during 6 1/3 innings of work. The unearned run in the second snapped a streak of 13-consecutive scoreless innings tossed by the freshman.

Winthrop plated its six runs thanks to nine hits. The Eagles had three players finish the contest with multiple hits, led by Lisa Kingsmore. The conference's leading hitter upped her average to .458 by going 3-for-4 in the game.

Hogan followed by going 2-for-4 with a run scored, while Smith was 2-for-3 as well with a run scored.

Cossentino got two of Liberty's five hits, going 2-for-3 from the plate. Designated player Ashley Williams pushed her hitting streak to five games by going 1-for-3.

Following a 20-minute intermission, the two squads will return to the Liberty Softball Field to play the middle game of the three-game weekend series.