ROCK HILL, S.C. – Paced by 11 hits, the No. 7 seed Lady Eagles pulled off a 5-1 upset against No. 2 seed Liberty Thursday afternoon in the first round of the 2011 Big South Softball Championship.
With the win, Winthrop improves to 16-34 on the year, while Liberty drops to 26-28.
The Eagles threatened to score in the top of the first, putting runners on second and third with two outs on a base hit and a walk. But the Lady Flames escaped with no runs scoring, as Veronica Berrie grounded out to shortstop for the third out.
The Lady Flames scored a run on two hits to take a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Ashley Bensinger led off with a single through the right side, and advanced to second on a sac bunt by Jenny Law. Bensinger moved to third when Meredith Crisante singled through the right side, and scored when Kaylee West reached on a fielder’s choice. Bensinger beat the throw at the plate by shortstop Megan Chapman.
Winthrop made another threat in the top of the second, putting runners on first and second with back-to-back singles by Kelly Blea and Brittany Stoudemire. But Liberty pitcher Katrina Johnson responded with back-to-back strikeouts, and Megan Chapman popped out for the third.
The Lady Eagles enjoyed a two-out rally in the top of the fourth, as Stoudemire and Ashleigh Jackson recorded base hits, and Jackson scored on a single to left by Jenna Hardin to tie the game at 1.
Liberty ran into trouble in the top of the fifth, as Winthrop scored three runs on three hits and a Liberty miscue to take a 4-1 advantage. Teja Durante was hit by a pitch, and during the next at-bat, moved to second on a failed pickoff attempt by catcher Keely McMillon.
After Kathryn Eberlin singled to center field to move Durante over to third, Chelsey Schoenfeldt singled to right center and advanced to second on the throw, as Eberlin advanced to third and Durante crossed home plate.
The struggles continued for Liberty, as Eberlin and pinch runner McKenzie Corn scored on another passed ball to extend Winthrop’s lead.
The Lady Flames tried to respond with a rally of their own in the bottom of the fifth, as pinch hitter Katie Zavodny led off with a bunt single, and moved to second on a sac bunt by McMillon. But she was thrown out at third on a fielder’s choice by Amber DePasquale for the second out, and after Bensinger drew a walk, Law flied out to center to end the inning with the score unchanged.
The Eagles added another run in the top of the seventh, when Schoenfeldt hit a solo homer to right.
In their final shot, the Lady Flames were able to put runners on base in the top of the seventh. Kelly Strickland led off with a single to right, and pinch hitter Jill Stephens followed up with a single through the left side. But McMillon popped out, and Strickland was forced out at third on a fielder’s choice by DePasquale. Bensinger then fouled out to third to end the game.
Schoendfeldt led all players, going 2-for-4 with two RBIs and a run scored. Harbin added an RBI for the Lady Eagles.
West recorded the lone Liberty RBI of the day, while Bensinger, Crisante, Strickland, Zavodny and Stephens tallied hits for the Lady Flames.
Schoenfeldt (9-15) picked up the win in the circle, giving up five hits and one earned run in the complete game win.
Johnson (13-13) suffered the loss, giving up eight hits and two earned runs while striking out two batters. Smith gave up three hits and struck out two in three complete innings.