The Charlotte softball team came up short in a defensive matchup against the Liberty University Flames, who secured a 2-1 win at Sue M. Daughtridge Stadium on Wednesday, April 12.
After staying zero-all for seven consecutive innings, the Flames secured the lead at the top of the eighth inning, a lead they would not relinquish for the rest of the game. The 49ers fell to 24-15 on the season, while the Flames advanced to 26-14.
"We were really excited about the matchup today," said Head Coach Ashley Chastain. "These are the kinds of games we are going to be playing for the rest of the year and in the postseason. We loved being in this situation; unfortunately, we just couldn't make adjustments at the plate. [Karlie] Keeney and [Sam] Gress were good. It was definitely a pitching matchup, and we knew that going into it. Liberty was just better than us today. They made a couple of adjustments against Sam [Gress], got some hits, though, and did what they needed to do to win an inning. This is what you need to do when you play a team like Liberty because it usually comes down to one inning. We are obviously disappointed in the loss."
How it happened
The game was a pitcher's battle through seven innings straight. Charlotte's Gress and Liberty's Keeney duked it out throughout the day.
Gress had back-to-back 1-2-3 innings in the fourth and fifth inning, while Lexi Winters recorded the 49ers' first hit of the game in the fourth inning.
Heading into the eighth inning, the score was still zero-all before a deep sacrifice flyball and a couple of well-placed singles led the Flames to a two-point lead. The 49ers would attempt to reciprocate with the help of a Cori Hoffler Single-RBI home run but would eventually find themselves struck out in the bottom of the eighth, effectively ending the game.
While Charlotte didn't walk away with a victory, Gress still turned in another gritty performance, as she recorded her ninth game this season with five or more strikeouts.
The 49ers have played in four extra-inning games, three at home and one on the road. All three extra-inning home games have resulted in Charlotte's losses.
While pitching and outfield work has solidified itself throughout the season, the offense still struggles to maintain consistency at the plate, albeit massive hit droughts have become less common for the 49ers.
The 49ers head to Denton, Texas, to face the North Texas University Mean Green starting on Friday, April 14, and playing through Sunday, April 16, 2023. The game will also be streamed on ESPN+.