Just one day after picking up the biggest win in program history by knocking off and eliminating #2 national seed UCLA, Liberty saw its season come to a close after falling to San Diego State, 6-3, in Sunday’s regional final. The Aztecs plated four runs in the top of the 6th inning to break a 2-2 tie and turn the game in their favor.
Liberty got off to a great start in the first inning, scoring two runs to take the early 2-0 lead. It was the first runs San Diego State had allowed in the Los Angeles Regional this weekend.
The first five Lady Flames that stepped into the batter’s box on Sunday picked up a base hit. The biggest one coming by Megan Fortner who plated two runs on her double. Unfortunately, that was all of the damage Liberty could do in the inning as all three outs were recorded on the basepaths.
Karlie Keeney, who picked up two complege game wins on Saturday, started her third straight game in the regional final. She started off the game very strong, keeping the Aztecs off the scoreboard through the first three innings as Liberty maintained the 3-0 lead into the fourth.
Cali Decker, who hit the big three-run home run in Friday’s win over Liberty, would be the catalyst for SDSU to turn the game around once again. Her two run home run in the fourth tied the game at two.
With the game still tied at two, San Diego State hit a lead off double to begin the top of the 6th inning. As Decker prepared to step into the batter’s box once again, Liberty head coach Dot Richardson opted to go to the bullpen and replace Keeney. Richardson turned to Emily Estroff who surrendered an RBI single to Decker, giving the Aztecs their first lead of the day at 3-2.
SDSU wasn’t finished as they scored three more runs in the inning on two different home runs, all coming off Estroff, to extend the lead to 6-2. Keeney finished the game by allowing three runs on eight hits in 5+ innings pitched.
Fortner led off the bottom of the 7th for the Flames with a solo home run, cutting the deficit to 6-3, but Liberty could not do any additional damage.
Liberty’s season comes to an end at 40-22 after advancing to the third regional final in program history. Both of the previous occurrences happened under current head coach Dot Richardson in 2018 and 2021.
Liberty earned the program’s first ever at-large berth into the NCAA Tournament this season. The Flames also set a program record this season with four Top 25 wins, including Saturday’s win over the Bruins.