Liberty softball concluded its regular season on Friday morning, suffering its first conference loss of the season, falling to Stetson, 7-6. The Flames lost the game but wrapped up the regular season with its second straight ASUN regular season title finishing with a 23-1 mark in conference play.

The Lady Flames swept the Hatters in a doubleheader on Thursday to enter Friday morning’s regular season finale looking to make history and become the first ASUN softball team to ever finish a regular season unbeaten.

On Friday, in the final game of the regular season, the game was moved up to a 9 a.m. start time then pushed back to 9:30 due to weather. The Hatters jumped out in front, 2-0, in the first inning and held that lead until the bottom of the third when Caroline Hudson’s three-run blast put Liberty in front. Rachel Roupe added a three-run shot of her own in the 5th to put the Flames up 6-2. It was Roupe’s fourth home run against the Hatters in the three-game set. Meanwhile, Megan Johnson got into a groove on the mound, retiring 10 batters in a row as Liberty seized control.

Stetson would add a run in the sixth to pull within 6-3 entering the final frame and the Lady Flames hoping to make history. Johnson started the seventh, but after allowing one runner to reach base, Coach Richardson turned to Emily Kirby to try to close the door. Kirby would walk the first two batters she faced to load the bases and she was pulled in favor of Karlie Keeney. Stetson’s Lizzie Shubert stepped in and was able to blast a ball over the fence for a grand slam to give the Hatters the lead that they would not relinquish in the bottom of the seventh.

Liberty has set the record for most ASUN wins in a single season in conference history with 23, surpassing the 22 wins USC Upstate had in 2014 when they finished 22-2.

Liberty had won 36 straight ASUN regular season games, a streak that started on April 3, 2021, prior to their loss on Friday. Liberty is 55-8 all-time in ASUN regular season games, posting 16 ASUN series sweeps, including 11 series sweeps in a row prior to that streak being snapped on Friday.

The Lady Flames were one of just two NCAA Division I teams that entered the final weekend of the regular season undefeated in conference play. The only other team is Boston University who is currently 15-0 in Patriot League play. The Terriers wrap up their regular season with a three game home series against Lehigh.

On Thursday, Karlie Keeney pitched a two-hit shutout in a 4-0 victory over Stetson in game one of the final series of the regular season. Keeney pitched her team-leading sixth shutout of the season and fourth in ASUN play striking out four and walking one. Paige Bachman batted 2-for-3 with her first career home, one RBI, and one run scored.

In game two of a doubleheader Thursday, the Lady Flames capped off the sweep with an 8-0, five-inning win, giving ninth-year head coach Dot Richardson her 300th career win. Emily Kirby earned her fifth shutout of the season, allowing three hits while walking one and striking out six.

Liberty finishes the regular season with a 40-16 overall record, earning the program’s fifth straight full season 40-win campaign and seventh in program history. Only Oklahoma and Florida State can say that they have won 40 or more games each of the last five full seasons. UCLA, Florida, Louisiana, and Tennessee are all nearing that mark as they approach the 40-win plateau this season.

The Lady Flames now prepare for next week’s ASUN Softball Championship which will be played in Jacksonville. Liberty’s first scheduled game is for Thursday, May 12 following a double-bye into a four-team double elimination tournament. Eight teams will advance to the Tournament with two rounds of single-elimination play-in games will reduce the field to four. The championship game is scheduled for May 14.