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Jefferson Pounds Homer to Give Flames 2-1 Win

April 25, 2009  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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J'nae Jefferson pounded a walk-off home run Saturday to lift Liberty over the visiting Blue Hose of Presbyterian, 2-1.

J'nae Jefferson pounded a walk-off home run Saturday to lift Liberty over the visiting Blue Hose of Presbyterian, 2-1.

A pitcher's duel turned into a home run derby in the game's final two frames, Saturday afternoon, and the Lady Flames walked away with a 2-1 home victory over Presbyterian, thanks to a seventh-inning walk-off bomb over the scoreboard in center field by J'nae Jefferson.

It was Senior Day at Liberty Softball Field, and seniors Beth Bennett and Sarah Ellis were honored on the field prior to the first pitch.

No runs were scored until the bottom of the sixth inning, although each team had several scoring opportunities. The two squads left a combined 16 runners stranded up to that point.

The Blue Hose jumped on the Liberty defense early, loading the bases with one out in the top of the first inning. After Amanda Miller led off with a walk, Mary Gordon singled to shortstop to put runners on first and second with no outs. After Brittany Howell struck out swinging, Rachel Parker walked to load the bases. But Laura Tate-Owings struck out swinging and Leslie Hensley fouled out to third base, and Liberty avoided any damage.

The Lady Flames put runners on second and third in the bottom of the second after Keely McMillon and Kelly Strickland drew back-to-back walks, and both advanced on a sacrifice bunt by Danielle Howard. But Jenna Eatmon popped out to shortstop and Kaylee West grounded out to second base to end the threat.

Liberty put runners on base again in the bottom of the third with two outs, when Beth Bennett tapped a fly ball to left that dropped in for a single, and Amber Depasquale, who reached on a fielder's choice, moved to second. But McMillon grounded out on the next play, and the game remained scoreless after three complete.

The Lady Flames loaded the bases in the bottom of the fifth inning. With one out, Cassie Hendrix drew a walk, and moved to second when Jefferson singled to center field. After DePasquale flied out to left, Bennett walked to load the bases with two outs. But the Blue Hose defense fended off a Liberty score, as McMillon lined out to the pitcher.

Liberty put a run on the board in the bottom of the sixth to take a 1-0 lead. Strickland led off with a single through the right side, and pinch runner Jennifer Pittman advanced to second when Howard delivered another successful sacrifice bunt. After pinch hitter Jenny Law flied out to right, pinch hitter Ashley Bensinger stepped up to drill a base hit through the left side, scoring Pittman from second base, and the Lady Flames claimed the advantage.

Presbyterian answered right back in the top of the seventh, when Gordon ripped a long ball over the center field fence with two outs to tie the game, 1-1.

But the Lady Flames stormed back in the bottom of the seventh, as Jefferson sent the inning's very first pitch for a ride over the scoreboard, giving Liberty a 2-1 victory.

Jefferson led the Lady Flames, batting 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored, while Bensinger was 1-for-1 with an RBI. Bennett was 1-for-2 in her final performance at Liberty Softball Field.

The Blue Hose were led by Gordon, who batted 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored.

Ellis (11-19) picked up the win, giving up only two hits and striking out three batters in four innings of work. Liberty starting pitcher Tiffani Smith gave up one hit and struck out five batters in three innings pitched.

Hensley (10-9) took the loss, giving up five hits and striking out two in six complete innings.

The loss ends Presbyterian's season, and the Blue Hose finish with an overall record of 18-27, and 5-13 in the Big South.

The Lady Flames improve to 19-30 overall and 7-7 in the conference. With the win, Liberty is now tied for third in the Big South standings as the regular season begins to wind down.

The Lady Flames will travel to Radford on Tuesday for a single game at 5 p.m., followed by a doubleheader at UNC Greensboro on Wednesday. Liberty will then wrap up the regular season with a three-game series against Coastal Carolina in Conway, S.C., next weekend.