In a game that didn’t get started until 11:15 p.m. in Durham, North Carolina, the Liberty softball team saw their season come to an end, falling to Georgia, 7-2, in the wee hours of Sunday morning. Liberty finishes the season with an overall record of 44-18 and advanced to a second straight NCAA Regional for the first time in program history.

It was a long day for the Lady Flames, who began the day in the winner’s bracket facing No. 12 seed and regional host Duke in a game that started at 1 p.m. Liberty dropped that game, 5-0, and had to wait nearly eight hours from the conclusion of that one until playing in their next game.

After falling to Liberty in Friday’s regional opener, Georgia had to play UMBC in the loser’s bracket in a game that was originally scheduled to start at approximately 3:30 p.m. Due to lightning and storms in the Durham area, that game did not begin until 8 p.m. The Bulldogs would go on to defeat the Retrievers, 6-3, in the elimination game that ended just prior to 11 p.m.

ASUN Pitcher of the Year Emily got the start in her third straight game of the Durham Regional late Saturday night. This came after her stellar performance in game one where Kirby pitched a three-hit shutout while striking out 13 in seven innings. It was her 6th shutout of the season but the first pitcher to shutout the Georgia offense in seven innings all season.

The Bulldogs wouldn’t wait long to get to Kirby in the rematch Saturday night. In the top of the first, UGA was able to scratch across a run on two hits to take the 1-0 lead. Two innings later, a two-run Georgia home run made the difference 3-0.

Liberty wouldn’t go do without a fight though. The first eight Liberty batters were retired in the game prior to first baseman Paige Bachman drawing a two-out walk in the bottom of the third. The next batter, shortstop Devyn Howard, launched an absolute no doubt home run over the left field wall to get the Lady Flames on the board and to draw within a run at 3-2. That ended a Liberty scoreless streak that had lasted over 16 innings as the Lady Flames had not scored since the first inning of the first game against Georgia early Friday afternoon.

Howard’s home run was one of only two hits Liberty had in the game though, and Georgia added an insurance run in the fifth to go up 4-2. Kirby walked in a runner with the bases loaded, but she would escape the frame without any further damage as the Bulldogs left the bases loaded. Georgia tacked on three more runs in the seventh for the final margin.