Liberty to Take on No. 19 Georgia in NCAA Durham Regional Opener
Back-to-back ASUN champion Liberty (43-16) will open competition in the 2022 NCAA Division I Softball Championship on Friday at noon on ESPNU, playing in the Durham Regional against 2021 Women’s College World Series participant No. 19 Georgia (40-16). The No. 12 national seed, Duke (41-8), will host the four-team regional, Friday through Sunday at Duke Softball Stadium. On the other side of the bracket, No. 12 seed Duke will face UMBC (31-10), Friday at 2:30 p.m.
2022 NCAA Division I Durham Regional
Duke Softball Stadium
Friday, May 20
Game 1: Liberty vs. No. 19 Georgia, Noon (ESPNU)
Game 2: No. 12 Seed Duke vs. UMBC, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN3.com)
Saturday, May 21
Game 3: Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2 – 1 p.m.
Game 4: Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2 – 3:30 p.m. (loser eliminated)
Game 5: Winner Game 4 vs. Loser Game 3 – 6 p.m. (loser eliminated)
Sunday, May 22
Game 6: Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 5 – 2 p.m.
Game 7 (if necessary) – 4:30 p.m.
How to Follow the Lady Flames
Live stats will be available for all games at the Durham Regional. Also, all games will air on an ESPN platform, with Clayton Matvick on play-by-play and Brittany McKinney providing color commentary. Liberty’s Friday game against Georgia will air live on ESPNU. Specific TV coverage for the remainder of the games this weekend is to be determined by ESPN. All Liberty games will have live audio streaming from Liberty Flames Sports Network, with Jamie Hall on play-by-play.
Liberty is making its fifth all-time appearance at the NCAA Division I Softball Championship, including first back-to-back appearances in program history.
Liberty posted a 23-1 conference record this season, earning the No. 1 seed for the ASUN Softball Championship. The Lady Flames opened the quarterfinal round with a 6-4 win over No. 4 seed North Alabama on Thursday. Liberty then run-ruled host North Florida 9-1 in six innings on Friday. The Lady Flames won the championship via run rule, 9-0 in five innings over UNF, Saturday.
Junior Kara Canetto was named ASUN Tournament MVP and was joined on the All-Tournament team by sophomores Karlie Keeney and Mary Claire Wilson and freshman Rachel Roupe.
This is the toughest Regional in the 2022 NCAA Division I Softball Championship based on teams’ combined winning percentage (.756). This is also the only Regional with three 40-win teams in it. Liberty (Durham) and Louisiana (Clemson) are the only two No. 3 Regional seeds who have more wins than any other team in their respective Regional.
Liberty and Georgia will meet for the first time in softball, as the Bulldogs are the only SEC team the Lady Flames have not faced under ninth-year head coach Dot Richardson. Georgia ranks in the Top 10 nationally in four major offensive categories, including seventh in both home runs per game (1.80) and slugging percentage (.601), with six Bulldogs hitting at least 10 homers.
Liberty ranks 28th nationally in ERA (2.26) and 14th in shutouts (16), while ranking 33rd overall with 5.86 runs scored per game.
Liberty defeated Durham Regional host Duke, then ranked No. 9, by an 8-3 score, April 20 at Liberty Softball Stadium, using a five-run sixth inning to snap Duke’s 11-game win streak. The Blue Devils entered the game as the nation’s second-highest scoring team, and Emily Kirby held them to one earned run in a complete-game win.
Two-time ASUN Pitcher of the Year Emily Kirby (13-5, 2.03 ERA, 5 shutouts) and two-time ASUN All-Conference second team pitcher Karlie Keeney (19-7, 2.37, 7 shutouts) provide a dominant 1-2 punch in the circle. Keeney has tossed two no-hitters against Big Ten teams this season, while Emily Kirby pitched her first career no-hitter on April 2 at Bellarmine.
Liberty has seven all-conference players in its batting order, led by four ASUN first team selections: ASUN Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year Caroline Hudson (.316, 16 HR, 51 RBI), Kara Canetto (.357), Lou Allan (.352) and Devyn Howard (.315, 51 runs scored). Rachel Roupe (.265, 8 HR, 45 RBI), Mary Claire Wilson (.331, 12 SB) and Paige Bachman (.366, 2 HR, 10 RBI) all earned ASUN All-Conference second team honors this season.