Liberty Softball claims NISC title in rain-shortened finale, 3-1

The Liberty Flames softball team celebrates their NISC title, after a rain-shortened 3-1 victory over Lamar in the NISC Championship. (Photo: Liberty Athletics)

LYNCHBURG, Va. (WSET) - It may not have been exactly how Liberty Softball coaches would have drawn up the win, but in the end, it still counts.

The Flames (46-24) claimed the inaugral National Invitational Softball Championship title with a 3-1 win over the Lamar Cardinals in a rain shortened, winner-takes-all final match.

After defeating Kennesaw State 13-5 in the morning, the Flames trailed Lamar 5-4 late in game 1, when tournament MVP Tori Zavodny blasted a 3 run home run to push the Flames into the lead, and onto an 8-5 win.

In the deciding game 2, a double from Diedra See helped the Flames push ahead 3-1 after 5 innings. However, Mother Nature saved the Flames, when it looked like the Cardinals (34-31) were about to take control. The rains picked up in intensity during the sixth. A double and walk helped load the bases for Lamar's Sable Hankins, who singled past a diving Jasmeen Click, allowing three runs to score on the play to give Lamar a 5-3 advantage.

In the bottom of the 6th, the Flames got two runners on base with two outs for Amber Bishop, when the umpires called for a rain delay. With the weather delay soaking the playing surface, and out of days to postpone the action, NISC officials called the game. Under NCAA rules, the game result reverts back to the last completed inning, which in this case, would be the 5th inning. The result wiped out Lamar's 4 runs, and gave the Flames the victory and their first national championship.

After the game, Flames coach Dot Richardson says both coaches and tournament officials expressed regret over the way the game ended, and praised Lamar's efforts all tournament long, adding "Everyone wants to have the winner, you know, instead of co-champions, so go for it. And so we did. It was pouring, it was raining. It was tough. " MVP Tori Zavodny praised Liberty's resilience, coming back through the loser's bracket, and making it through 3 games in one day, continuing to say "I think this, like, our 70th game of the season, so that's crazy. But three games is hard. We weren't in the NCAA tournament, but this is something awesome for our team and our school, and I think we made the most of it."

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