5-Run 2nd Sends No. 24 Liberty to 5-1 Victory Over EKU, Eliminating Colonels
Liberty stayed alive in the NCAA Division I Softball Championship Knoxville Regional, using a five-run second inning to spark a 5-1 win over Eastern Kentucky in an elimination game, Saturday at Sherri Parker Lee Stadium.
With the win, the Lady Flames (43-14) advance to face the host, No. 9 national seed Tennessee, at 6:16 p.m. tonight in another elimination game. The winner of tonight's game between the Lady Flames and Lady Vols will advance to tomorrow's Regional final against No. 21 James Madison. Liberty or Tennessee would have to beat JMU twice tomorrow to win the Regional and advance to the Super Regional round.
The Colonels (35-17) see their season end after going 0-2 at this weekend's Knoxville Regional.
Liberty – 2nd INNING – Howard singles, advances to second on throw, Sweat scores on error, 1-0
Liberty – 2nd INNING – Bishop doubles, Howard, Via and Hudson score, 4-0
Liberty – 2nd INNING – Canetto reaches on an error, Bishop scores, 5-0
EKU – 4th INNING – Miranda reaches on fielder's choice, Jacobsen out at second, Mihalicz scores, 5-1
– Liberty held a 6-5 advantage in hits and all five of the Lady Flames' runs were unearned as EKU committed three errors in the second inning.
– Karlie Keeney (16-5) earned the win, allowing two hits and striking out one in 3 1/3 innings of relief. Starter Emily Kirby went 3 2/3 innings, yielding one run on three hits with five strikeouts and two walks.
– Tori Peterson (16-6) drew the loss, allowing five unearned runs on three hits, walking one and fanning two in 1 2/3 innings. Bethany Todd yielded three hits in 5 1/3 innings of relief work.
– Devyn Howard and Amber Bishop-Riley both went 2-for-3 for the Lady Flames, while Autumn Bishop hit her 20th double of the season and drove in three runs. Kara Canetto stole her 19th base of the season.
– EKU's Jeanay Riley batted 2-for-2 with a double.
– Liberty took advantage of three EKU errors in the second inning, taking a 5-0 lead with five unearned runs. Bishop hit a bases-clearing double to make it 4-0. Canetto later reached on an error, pushing across Bishop for a 5-0 advantage.
– EKU got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the fourth and looked for more, loading the bases with two outs. Keeney then came on in relief of Kirby to get the third out.
– Keeney worked around a leadoff double in the seventh, retiring the next three batters in a row to clinch the win.
Beyond the Box Score
– The Lady Flames have picked up their third-ever NCAA Regional game victory, and improved to 1-3 all-time when facing elimination in NCAA postseason play.
– Liberty and Eastern Kentucky will be in the same conference beginning on July 1, when EKU, Central Arkansas and Jacksonville State join the ASUN.
– Liberty is now 6-1 all-time against Eastern Kentucky in softball.
– Current Liberty Head Coach Dot Richardson (1982 – UCLA (NCAA)) and current Eastern Kentucky (1981 – Utah State (AIAW)) are two of the five coaches who won national championships as a player who are also a head coach competing in the 2021 NCAA Division I Softball Championship.
– Liberty's five runs scored in today's game were the most runs that the Lady Flames have scored in an NCAA Regional game. The previous high was three runs, set three times.
– Bishop is now in sole possession of 10th in NCAA Division I softball history with 73 career doubles. She also now ranks third in program history with 150 career RBI and is third in career total bases (437).
– Liberty is 36-4 when scoring first this season.
– Bishop has reached base safely in each of the last 30 games. The program record for consecutive games reached base safely in 32 by Jessica Moore in 2007.