Jill Stephens went 2-for-2, and also had a sacrifice bunt, on Wednesday at Virginia.
Virginia earned a 7-1 victory over Liberty during the nightcap of Wednesday's softball doubleheader, behind the strength of 15 strikeouts from pitcher Melanie Mitchell at The Park. The Cavaliers even their season record to 23-23 with the twin bill sweep, while the Lady Flames are now 17-29. Jill Stephens went 2-for-2, and also registered a sacrifice bunt for the Lady Flames. Kelly Strickland hit 1-for-3 and scored Liberty's lone run on a sacrifice fly by Kaylee West. West extended her program record with her eighth career sacrifice fly. Alex Skinkis hit two homers, driving in four runs during her 3-for-4 game for Virginia. Erica Cipolloni went 2-for-3, and Kristen Hawkins scored two runs. Mitchell (16-12) tossed a season-high 15 strikeouts, allowing one unearned run on three hits. Liberty's Chandler Ball (9-10) yielded six earned runs on 10 hits while going the distance. Mitchell hit leadoff batter Kelby Allen with a pitch in the first inning. Allen moved to second on a sacrifice, where she was left following Mitchell's second strikeout of the game. The Cavaliers left two runners on base in the bottom half of the frame when Stephanie Harris lined out to first to end the stanza. Stephens collected the Lady Flames' first hit of the game during the second inning, before Mitchell recorded her third strikeout of the inning. Virginia had runners on second and third with two outs, but could not score a run, as Giannina Cipolloni grounded out to third base for the third out. Mitchell struck out the side in the top of the third stanza, before Skinkis led off the bottom half of the third with a high drive over the left-field fence, good for a 1-0 Virginia lead. The Cavaliers stranded two runners in scoring position, as Ball recorded a strikeout and groundout. Following a three-batter Liberty fourth, Skinkis hit her second homer in as many innings, a three-run blast to extend the hosts' lead to 4-0. Strickland reached second base on an error during the top of the fifth inning. Stephens sent her to third with a sacrifice bunt. West then plated Strickland with a sacrifice fly, trimming the deficit to three, 4-1. A strikeout ended Liberty's fifth time to bat. Virginia extended its lead to 6-1, scoring two runs on a two-out safety squeeze play in the bottom of the fifth inning. The Cavaliers had runners on second and third when Giannina Cipolloni beat out a bunt single to plate Marcy Bowdren. Hawkins then came home on a throwing error. Allen reached on an error to lead off the sixth, and Shivock walked. Crisante moved both runners with a sacrifice bunt, but Mitchell fanned Amber Donovan to close out the inning. The Cavaliers tacked on one run in the bottom of the sixth inning, good for a 7-1 advantage. Strickland opened the seventh with a single to left, and Stephens followed with a base hit. Mitchell then retired the final three Lady Flames in order to seal the victory. The Lady Flames return home to host Campbell on Friday and Saturday at Liberty Softball Field. This weekend's series will close out Liberty's regular-season Big South Conference schedule. Friday's doubleheader is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m., while Saturday will feature a single game, at 1 p.m.