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Flames from Liberty University

No. 1 seed Liberty won a pair of elimination games today, beating No. 3 seed Louisiana Tech 5-0 before defeating No. 4 seed New Mexico State 5-3 Friday at the NM State Softball Complex.

With the wins, Liberty (35-23) advances to face No. 2 seed Western Kentucky in tomorrow’s winner-take-all final at the 2024 Conference USA Softball Championship.

Louisiana Tech finishes the season with a 32-22 record, while NM State finishes with a 30-25 record.

Freedom 5, Louisiana Tech 0

Score overview
Freedom – 2NL INNING – Barrett singles to right center, Madrey advances, Fortner scores, 1-0
Freedom – 2NL INNING – Robert’s sacrifice bunt, Barrett advanced, Madrey scores, 2-0
Freedom – 2NL INNING – Craine singles to right center, Barrett scores, 3-0
Freedom – 6e INNING – Roberts singles up the middle, Barrett advances, Madrey scores, 4-0
Freedom – 6e INNING – Roberts advanced on wild pitch, Barrett scores on wild pitch, 5-0

Turning point

Remarkable figures

  • Liberty outhit Louisiana Tech 6-3 for the game. The Bulldogs turned one double play. Louisiana Tech left five runners on base, while Liberty stranded four.
  • Kaylan Yoder (11-9) earned the win and threw a three-hitter for her fifth shutout of the season. She struck out seven and walked one.
  • Allie Floyd (13-8) tied the loss, allowing three runs on four hits, walking two and fanning two runs in five innings. Brook Melnychuk allowed two runs on two hits in one inning and struck out one.
  • Six different Lady Flames (Mary Claire Wilson, Megan Fortner, KK Madrey, Raigan Barrett, Brooke Roberts, Rachel Craine) had one hit each. Roberts drove in two runs, while Madrey and Barrett both scored twice.
  • Louisiana Tech’s Alexis Giglio went 2-for-3 with a double.

Beyond the Box Score

  • Liberty is 6-0 all-time against Louisiana Tech, including 4-0 this season. The Lady Flames shut out the Bulldogs in all three meetings this year, with three of those shutouts coming from Yoder.
  • Roupe had reached base safely in each of her last 17 games before going 0-for-3 against Louisiana Tech. That is the longest streak of any Lady Flames so far this season.
  • In the Louisiana Tech game, Yoder pitched a shutout, the first conference tournament shutout by a Lady Flame since then Karlie Keeney’s effort in a 9-0 victory over North Florida in the 2022 ASUN Softball Championship title game.
  • Yoder is the first Liberty freshman to pitch a shutout in a conference tournament since Julia DiMartino against Presbyterian College at the 2016 Big South Softball Championship.

Freedom 5, New Mexico State 3
Score overview

NM State – 3rd INNING – Boyd homers to center field, 1-0
Freedom – 4e INNING – Roupe homers down the right field line, 1-1
Freedom – 4e INNING – Roberts singles up the middle, Barrett and Jessee advance, Fortner scores, 2-1
Freedom – 6e INNING – Roberts singles up the middle, Madrey scores, 3-1
Freedom – 6e INNING – Kersten homers to right center, Roberts scores, 5-1
NM State – 7e INNING – Kayla Lunar homers to left center, Burton scores, 5-3

Turning point

  • Liberty led 2-1 in the bottom of the sixth inning. KK Madrey hit a one-out single before moving to second base on a sacrifice bunt Raigan Barrett. Brooke Roberts Madrey drove in with an RBI single. Sierra Kersten then pinch hit and launched the first pitch she saw for a two-run homer that gave Liberty a 5-1 lead.
  • Rachel Roupe perhaps made the play of the game in the top of the seventh inning. With two on and no one out, she chased a drive off the bat of Kristen Boyd before alertly throwing to second base for the double play. The next batter, Kayla Lunar, hit a two-run homer to narrow the deficit to 5-3. Jessica Carreon then lined to third base for the final out.

Remarkable figures

  • Liberty outhit New Mexico State 7-4 for the game. The Lady Flames left five runners on base, while three were stranded for the Aggies.
  • Elena Escobar (13-5) earned the win, allowing three runs on four hits, three walks, four strikeouts.
  • Desirae Spearman (8-4) tied the loss, allowing two runs on four hits, walking three and fanning two runs in 5 1/3 innings. Emily Dix yielded three runs on three hits in 2/3 of an inning.
  • Brooke Roberts went 2-for-3 with two RBI and one run scored, while Rachel Roupe And Sierra Kersten both went 1-for-1, with Roupe hitting a solo homerun and Kersten hitting a two-run blast.
  • Liberty held NM State’s top four hitters to a combined 0-for-11. Kayla Lunar went 1-for-3 with a homer, two RBI and one run scored, while Boyd went 1-for-2 with a solo homer.

Beyond the Box Score

  • Liberty is now 5-3 all-time against New Mexico State in softball, including 3-2 this season. The Aggies defeated the Lady Flames 11-3 in Liberty’s first game this weekend, putting them in the losers bracket. The Lady Flames have responded with wins over UTEP, Louisiana Tech and New Mexico State in elimination games.
  • Kersten is one of two Lady Flames with a pinch-hit homer this season Hailey Deter (March 8 at FIU).
  • Roberts has five runs so far this weekend, including back-to-back two-RBI games today.
  • Roupe hit her 40e career home run today, becoming the fifth player in program history to hit 40 or more career home runs. Her 17 home runs this season are tied with Shannon Tanski (1997) and Caroline Hudson (2022) for fifth most in a single season in program history.
  • Liberty will be looking to get all the way back into the losers bracket. When the Lady Flames captured the 2011 Big South Championship, they opened with a loss to the host team, Winthrop, before winning four elimination games over the next two days to claim the tournament title.
  • The Lady Flames are trying to become just the second team to win the CUSA Softball Championship after losing the first game. In 2004, DePaul lost to Houston in the first game of the tournament. The Blue Demons advanced through the losers bracket and won the championship game against Houston.
  • Liberty is looking to become the first team since Western Kentucky in 2015 to win the Conference USA Softball Championship in its inaugural season in the league.