Liberty Softball wins Big South Championship, defeating Radford, 5-1
RADFORD, Va. (WSET) - The Liberty Lady Flames softball team claimed their third Big South title in program history, and the first since 2011, with a dominant 5-1 win over Radford.
With the win, the Flames extended their winning streak to 17 games, dating to April 14, the second-longest active winning streak in NCAA Division I softball. The Lady Flames went 3-0 at this week's Big South Softball Championship, claiming the program's third title, and first since 2011. Liberty will represent the Big South Conference at the 2018 NCAA Division I Softball Championship, whose field will be announced tomorrow at 10 p.m. on ESPN2. Radford (36-19) was in search of its third NCAA tournament appearance.
Autumn Bishop was named the Big South Tournament MVP, and was joined by teammates Alexia Taylor, Taylor Hoffman and Julia DiMartino on the All-Tournament Team. Bishop is the fourth Lady Flame all-time to be named Big South Softball Tournament MVP, and first since Tiffani Smith in 2011.
DiMartino (27-7) pitched a complete game, allowing one run on three hits while striking out six. Her half dozen strikeouts allowed her to surpass Tiffani Smith's (2008-11/573 strikeouts) program record with 574 career strikeouts.
Abby Morrow (23-12) drew the loss, allowing five run on six hits, walking two during 3 1/3 innings. Kayla Huffman pitched the final 2 2/3 innings scoreless with one hit allowed and three strikeouts.
Autumn Bishop went 1-for-2 with a double, her 25th of the season, and two RBI, while Amber Bishop hit her 20th double of the year and drove in three runs. Taylor batted 2-for-3.
For Radford, Brianna Mills went 2-for-3, while Marissa Gagliano batted 1-for-3 with a double and one RBI.
DiMartino struck out the side in the first inning, keeping Radford off the board.
Autumn Bishop led off the bottom of the first by drawing a walk, but Morrow retired the next three batters in order.
Liberty loaded the bases with a two-out rally in the second, as Hoffman and Jasmeen Click surrounded a single by Taylor with bunt base hits. Autumn Bishop then lined a two-run double to right, giving the Lady Flames a 2-0 lead.
Mills broke up DiMartino's no-hit bid, beginning the third inning with an infield single. After a pair of fielder's choice grounders, Lauren Maddrey stole second. Gagliano then came through with a two-out RBI double to left center, slicing the deficit to 2-1. Sofia Tapia then grounded out to first for the third out.
Sarah Robertson singled on the infield after one out in the third stanza, but two grounders ended the inning.
Talia Douglas reached on an error to start the fourth inning. A sacrifice sent her to second, but Radford was unable to move the runner past second base.
Taylor dropped a one-out single into left field in the bottom of the fourth. A fielder's choice then left runners at first and second, still with one out. Morrow walked Autumn Bishop on four pitches. Huffman then came on in relief of Morrow. Amber Bishop blasted a three-run double down the line in left, making it 5-1, Liberty.
DiMartino struck out a pair in a 1-2-3 Radford sixth, maintaining the 5-1 lead.
Another three-batter inning sealed the championship for the Lady Flames, as Jaclyn Amader snared a foulout in front of Radford's dugout for the final out.
With the win, the Flames (47-12) advance to the NCAA Tournament. Radford (36-19) will hope for an at-large bid to the Big Dance.
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