In game one, the Lady Flames jumped out to an early lead for the second-consecutive day, with one out in the top of the first. J'Nae Jefferson doubled to right field off of Coastal Carolina starter Katelin Edwards (Greer, S.C./Newberry College), and Kelly Strickland drew a walk to put runners on first and second. The next batter, Beth Bennett, hit a three-run homer over the right field fence to give the Lady Flames the early 3-0 lead.
Following the rough first frame, Edwards went on to retired the next seven batters she faced in order before allowing a walk to Danielle Howard in the fourth, but went on to retire the next two batters on via fly out and groundout to end the inning. Smith was equally impressive in the middle innings. After allowing the long ball to Evans in the first, she retired the next nine batters in order, and fanned seven batters in a three-inning span.
The Chants didn't generate another hit until the fifth, as Ashley Pisone (
Smith was lifted in favor of Friday's starter Sarah Ellis in the sixth. Brittany Birnbaum (
In the seventh,
With the loss, Edwards drops to 5-17 on the season. She threw 5.1 innings, allowing four five runs on four hits and walked three batters. McCranie, who entered in relief in the fifth, allowed a trio of runs on four hits and struck out a batter. Smith improves to 9-12, and tossed five innings of two hit ball, allowing one run and fanned eight Chants.
The Coastal Carolina bats came alive in the second, as the Chants scored a season-high seven runs on the inning, Riffel lead off the inning with a double to right, and Coastal Carolina trimmed the
Liberty recaptured the lead in the in third inning with one out as Jenna Eatmon lined a triple to right field to put a runner on third with one out. Three pitches later, Eatmon scored on a wild pitch to give the Lady Flames the 9-8 lead.
Coastal Carolina stormed right back in the bottom half of the inning, as Ballard led off with a single, and moved to second on a Smith balk two pitches later. Birnbaum then moved Ballard to third with her 12th sacrifice of the season, and Evans followed with her third hit of the contest, a double to left field to score Ballard and knot the game at 9-9.
Liberty took the lead yet again in the fifth, as Amber DePasquale started off the inning with a single. After Edwards fanned pinch-hitter Ashley Bensinger, but the next batter, Eatmon, doubled to right to score DePasqual from first and give Liberty the 10-9 lead. After pinch-hitter Jenna Law lined out to short, Jefferson followed with a single to center to score Eatmon and push the Liberty advantage to 11-9 heading into the bottom of the fifth.
In the bottom half of the inning, Coastal Carolina loaded the bases with two outs after Pisone reached on an error and Smith walked Evans and Snellings, but Smith induced a Williams groundout to escape the threat.
Liberty threatened to extend the lead in the seventh, but ultimately came up short. West led off the seventh with a walk. Two batters later, Hendrix singled for the third time on the day to put runners on first and second with one out, resulting in McCranie replacing Edwards. The freshman worked her way out of the jam by forcing both Jefferson and Strickland to fly out to end the inning.
Down two heading into the bottom of the seventh, Coastal Carolina led off with the top of their order, as Ballard sparked the inning off with a slap single to right, but that was as close as the Chanticleers would get, dropping the final home game of the season, 11-9.
Today's contests also marked the final home contests for Riffel and Birnbaum, as well as long-time Head Coach Jess Dannelly, who is retiring after 22 seasons at head coach. A ceremony was held at the conclusion of game one, as nearly 30 alumni from past teams returned home to their rightful place at Coastal Carolina Softball Field.
Coastal Carolina will next be in action Thurs., May 7 in the opening round of the Big South Championship Presented by Texas Roadhouse against the Flames, as Liberty secured the No. 3 seed in the tournament this weekend. The Chanticleers enter the tournament as the sixth seed. The two squads will face off once again in the opening round of the tournament on Thurs., May 7 in game two of the tournament at 12:30 p.m.