Liberty softball swept North Florida over the weekend to improve to 21-0 in conference and to secure the No. 1 seed in next week’s ASUN Tournament. The Lady Flames did drop two games this week to top 15 opponents in Tennessee and Virginia Tech. Liberty is 2-10 against Top 25 teams this season.
WEDNESDAY: NO. 12 TENNESSEE 7, LIBERTY 2
Tennessee broke open a tight game with a three-run fifth inning, earning a 7-2 win over Liberty on Wednesday at Liberty Softball Stadium. The Lady Flames saw their 7-game win streak snapped in the loss. The Volunteers opened up a 2-0 lead before Liberty cut the lead to 2-1 in the third. UT would extend the lead to 7-1 when Liberty added a run in the 7th with a solo home run by Caroline Hudson.
SATURDAY GAME 1: LIBERTY 1, NORTH FLORIDA 0
Liberty’s Karlie Keeney held UNF in check throughout the game and it was a scoreless tie entering the sixth inning. That’s when the Lady Flames went to work. Lou Allan singled with one out and Denay Griffin then walked. Kara Canetto lined a go-ahead double in the right center gap, scoring the pinch runner. Griffin was thrown out at home trying to score on the play. That was all the support Keeney would need as she retired the last eight batters she faced to nail down the two-hit shutout.
SATURDAY GAME 2: LIBERTY 6, NORTH FLORIDA 2
UNF left a total of five runners stranded over the first two innings as Emily Kirby worked through trouble. The Liberty bats then got going, opening up the scoring with a two-run single by Denay Griffin in the third. The Lady Flames would add one in the fourth and three in the fifth to build a 6-0 lead. The Ospreys spoiled the shutout bid with a run in the fifth and another one in the seventh.
SUNDAY: LIBERTY 5, NORTH FLORIDA 1
With the game tied at 1 in the sixth, Kara Canetto led off the inning with a double and advanced to third with a sacrifice bunt. A couple batters later, Paige Bachman came through a with a two-out, two run single to make it 3-1 Flames. In the seventh, Liberty got a two-out, two-run double from Rachel Roupe to provide the final margin of 5-1.
TUESDAY: NO. 2 VIRGINIA TECH 13, LIBERTY 9
Liberty and Virginia Tech combined for six homers and 22 runs scored in a weather-shortened six inning game on Tuesday at Tech Softball Park. The start of the game was delayed an hour and 15 minutes, and with two outs in the bottom of the sixth the game ultimately got called due to severe lightning in the area.
The Lady Flames took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first off a Caroline Hudson home run, but the Hokies quickly tied things up. In the second, a Liberty error with two outs kept the inning going and Tech took advantage, scoring six unearned runs in the frame.
Mary Claire Wilson brought Liberty to within 8-6 with a third inning grand slam, but VT would respond with three runs in the bottom of the third. Wilson narrowed the gap to 11-9 with her second homer of the game, a three-run blast in the fifth for the final score.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK: KARA CANETTO
Canetto had a huge weekend in Jacksonville against North Florida. She had two hits in all three games, finishing 6 for 11 at the plate in the three-game series with four doubles, two RBIs, and one run. Canetto continued her strong play at Virginia Tech, as she was 2 for 3 with 2 runs scored.
PITCHER OF THE WEEK: EMILY KIRBY
Kirby made three appearances during the week, totaling 10.1 innings pitched while allowing 3 runs. She struck out 10 and walked 9 during the week while allowing just 6 hits.
We’ve reached the end of the regular season as Liberty will play host to Stetson for a three-game ASUN series beginning with a double header on Thursday afternoon and the regular season finale on Friday. Liberty will be looking to finish the regular season with an unblemished mark in ASUN play, a feat that has never happened in the conference’s history nor has Liberty ever finished a softball season unbeaten in conference play.
The Lady Flames will then enter the ASUN Softball Championship with their first game scheduled for Thursday, May 12 in Jacksonville and the championship game scheduled for May 14 at 1 p.m.
North Florida…………….16-8, 39-15
Kennesaw State…………9-12, 18-26
Central Arkansas………14-7, 30-18
Jacksonville State…….13-8, 30-19
North Alabama………….12-9, 34-16
Eastern Kentucky………9-12, 13-33