The Liberty softball team learned its destination for NCAA Regional Play as the Lady Flames will travel west to Knoxville, Tennessee. Liberty is the No. 2 seed where No. 9 overall seed Tennessee is the host. The Lady Flames will play JMU to begin regional play on Friday at noon on ESPNU. Eastern Kentucky is the No. 4 seed in the regional and will play Tennessee on Friday.
Liberty (42-13) is ranked No. 17 in the RPI while JMU (34-1, 17-1 CAA) is currently ranked No. 30 in the RPI. The Dukes have won 24 straight games with their only loss coming on March 27 against Elon, 5-4. JMU has seven straight games without allowing a run, a streak that spans 43 straight innings. Liberty is 9-13 all-time against JMU.
Liberty secured the ASUN’s automatic bid to the 2021 NCAA Division I Softball Championship after winning the ASUN Tournament this weekend. On Saturday, Liberty defeated Kennesaw State, 5-4, in the championship game. Liberty went a perfect 3-0 in the double elimination tournament this weekend, played on Kennesaw State’s home field in Kennesaw, Georgia. The Lady Flames first defeated Jacksonville, 1-0, on Thursday and then beat the Owls on Friday, 4-1, to advance to Saturday’s championship game. After losing to Liberty, KSU had to defeat Jacksonville Friday evening to avoid elimination and advance to the championship.
Liberty, who is ranked No. 25 in both major polls this week, has won 21 of its last 22 games. That stretch includes 12 shutout wins. The top 25 national ranking received this past Monday is the first time the program has ever cracked the top 25 poll, receiving the ranking in both the NFCA Top 25 and the USA Softball Collegiate Top 25.
This is Liberty’s fourth conference tournament title in program history and first in the ASUN. The Lady Flames last won a conference tournament championship in the Big South in 2018. Previously, Liberty also won the 2002 and 2011 Big South title.
The Lady Flames are 2-6 all-time in NCAA Regional play. Liberty dropped both games in 2002 in the Columbia, South Carolina Regional and did the same thing in 2011 in the Knoxville, Tennessee Regional. In 2018, Liberty won its first two games over Hofstra and South Carolina to advance to the regional final where the Lady Flames would lose consecutive games to the host Gamecocks.
*photo courtesy ASUN Sports