No. 3 CSU Picks Up Win Over No. 6 Liberty

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RADFORD, Va. (www.BigSouthSports.com) - Jana Matthews and Stephanie Sbardella cracked two home runs apiece to highlight a Charleston Southern attack which matched a single-game program record with six homers, as the Bucs routed Liberty, 14-3, in game three of the 2012 Big South Softball Championship presented by Musco Sports Lighting and Brookwood Farms Barbeque Thursday afternoon at Radford Softball Field in Radford, Va.

Charleston Southern improves to 31-24 on the year, while Liberty fell to 19-35. 

CSU powered a pair of long balls to headline an eight-run first inning and added five more tallies courtesy of back-to-back-to-back home runs in the third to roll to a five-inning triumph.

The 14 runs are the most scored in a Big South Tournament game since 2003.

Morgan Dowdy was sharp from the game's outset, setting down Liberty in order on a pair of groundouts and a strikeout in the top of the first inning.  The CSU offense wasted no time in getting to Liberty starter Alyssa DiMartino in the bottom half of the first, launching a pair of homers and plating four runs to force her from the circle after 0.1 of an inning.

Megan Lombard led off the frame with a single through the right side of the infield and advanced to second base on a sacrifice bunt by Kristin Kelleher.  Jessica Brock then sent a single back through the box to put runners on the corners with one out for Matthews.  Matthews jumped on DiMartino's very first offering, hammering a three-run shot over the right-center field fence for her fourth long ball of the year.  Sbardella stepped to the plate next, and followed suit with a towering drive to nearly the same spot as the Bucs forged a 4-0 lead on their third baseman's team-leading sixth blast of the campaign.

Liberty's Grace Nordan could not quiet the Bucs' bats in relief, as all four batters to face her reached base, with three scoring.  Linzy Rother greeted Nordan with a line drive single off the glove of the Flames' Sammi Shivock at shortstop, and Ari Tedesco and Melissa Adams worked walks to load the bases for Courtney Konyk.  Konyk entered the at-bat with three RBI for the season, but matched that total with one swing as she laced a three-run triple to the right-center field wall for a 7-0 CSU advantage.

The Flames again went to the bullpen following Konyk's three-bagger, this time calling on Chandler Ball.  The Bucs were still not done, however, as Lombard drew a walk  before Kelleher connected for a sacrifice fly to bring Konyk down the line from third for a 8-0 lead.  Brock was issued CSU's fourth free pass of the inning to extend the inning for Matthews, but the Bucs' slugger was retired to finally send the contest on to the second.  Thirteen Bucs came to the plate in all during the frame, with eight runs scoring on six hits, four walks and a pair of homers.

Dowdy ran into some resistance in the top of the second as Liberty rallied for three runs on three base knocks to pull within 8-3.  Jill Stephens accounted for the first marker with an RBI single up the middle, but it was the Flames designated player who provided the key blow of the inning.  Hannah Nichols powered a Dowdy fastball clear off the left field wall for her first home run of the season, cutting the Bucs' cushion to five runs.

Ball was able to retire CSU without allowing a run in the second, but the Bucs once again showcased their power to up their advantage to 13-3 on the strength of back-to-back-to-back home runs.  Lombard and Kelleher set the table, as the senior duo doubled and singled to place runners on the corners with nobody out for Brock.  Brock jumped all over a Ball offering, cracking a no-doubt three-run shot over the left field wall for her second homer of the year and an 11-3 CSU lead.

Brock's tape-measure blast prompted Liberty to re-enter DiMartino in the circle.  Matthews smacked her second opposite field homer of the day to right field, before Sbardella sent a laser to dead center for her second round-tripper of the contest.

Morgan Dowdy picked up the win in the circle for the Bucs, while Alyssa DiMartino suffered the loss for the Flames.

With the victory, CSU advances to play the No. 2 seed Coastal Carolina Friday at 9:00am in the second round of the double-elimination tourney.  The Flames will play No. 7 Presbyterian tonight at 9:30pm.

Quotes
Charleston Southern Head Coach Shane Winkler
"We showed what our offense is really capable of.  We waited all year really to put it together in one game, but the biggest thing is that in a tournament like this, momentum is key and we got ourselves off to an ideal start offensively."

Liberty Head Coach Paul Wetmore
"We congratulate Charleston Southern.  They played a great game and really swung the bats well.  We need to get ready to play the next game tonight."