FARMVILLE, VA— Winthrop softball fell 9-3 to top-seeded Liberty in an elimination game, Saturday afternoon in the Big South Conference Tournament.
The Eagles finish the season 27-31 while Liberty improves to 37-21 and advances to the championship game to take on third-seeded Longwood. Winthrop advanced to take on the Flames after defeating second-seeded Campbell in an elimination game, 13-5, earlier in the day.
“I felt they gave it all they had out there and played as hard as they could,” said Winthrop co-head coach Mark Cooke. “Their legs were just gone. I’m really proud of their effort.”
Liberty took a 5-2 lead into the bottom of the sixth and tacked on four runs to increase its lead. Winthrop had just threatened to tighten the gap in the top of the inning after putting runners at second and third with no outs, but came up empty. Amber Bishop started off the sixth with a home run for a 6-2 lead and the Liberty offense produced two more RBI hits and an RBI walk to make it 9-2.
Winthrop grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first as Paige Haley scored from second on a single to center off the bat of Maddie Antone. The Eagles then loaded the bases and Leah Young ripped a shot but right at third baseman Alexia Taylor, who then stepped on the bag for a double play as Antone was off a couple of steps on contact.
Liberty grabbed a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the first as it scored three unearned runs. Taylor had an RBI ground out to tie the game and then two runs came around on a grounder that was thrown away at first.
Ansley Gilreath led off the second inning with a double of the wall in right center and was replaced by pinch-runner Jill Derrick. Kiley Majette moved Derrick to third on a sacrifice bunt and then Haley singled to drive in Derrick and cut the deficit to 3-2.
The Flames began the second inning by loading the bases with no outs as the Eagles made a pitching change bringing in Keleigh Romine. She got a grounder for a force out at third, but a run scored to make it 4-2. Two batters later the Eagles turned a double play to end the inning. A fifth run was added in the third as Jasmeen Click came through with an RBI single.
Majette took the loss and ends the season at 16-17 after allowing five runs (two earned) on four hits with six walks and two strikeouts.
Antone, Lowers and Gilreath each finished with two hits against the Flames. Antone finishes the season with a .408 average, becoming the seventh different player in program history to bat .400 or better in a single-season. The .408 average ties McKenzi Corn (2013) for the seventh best average in a single-season. Haley finishes the season on a six-game hitting streak and reached base in 15 straight games (a career-best).
Against Campbell, Winthrop trailed 4-1 early before scored five in the second and had another five-run inning in the fourth.
Ashley Westbrooks had a career-high four hits and led the team with three RBI against the Camels. Haley and Morgan Lowers each had two hits and two runs. Westbrooks broke the Winthrop program record for RBI by a freshman, passing the 33 mark set by Tessa Thomas in 2006.