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Herd Cruises to Pair of Victories in First Day of Georgia Softball Classic

Feb. 17, 2006

ATHENS, Ga. - Behind a balanced offensive attack, the Marshall Thundering Herd scored a combined 11 runs on 14 hits in taking a pair of victories in the first day of the Georgia Softball Classic Friday.

Sophomore Samantha Rodriguez (Oakley, Calif./Freedom) hit two home runs and added four RBI during the two-game set. With four home runs and 11 RBI so far this season, Rodriguez has now surpassed her season totals from a year ago (three HR, 10 RBI).

Game 1 (Marshall 8, Appalachian State 0 - 5 innings)

Box Score

For the first two innings, Marshall showed signs of fatigue from its second straight weekend on the road, but the Thundering Herd overcame it with an 8-0 run-rule victory over Appalachian State (0-1).

Marshall's Abigail Harter (Monmouth, Ore./Santiam Christian) earned her third complete-game victory of the season (3-0). Harter scatted five hits, while striking out four batters in five innings.

Appalachian State starting pitcher Keri Blackwelder (0-1) suffered the loss, allowing three runs on four hits in four complete innings.

For the fifth time this season, senior outfielder Amanda Williams (Powder Springs, Ga./Harrison) had a lead-off hit in the opening inning. Williams' sent an opposite-field double over the head of Appalachian State left fielder Natalie Willis.

However, Marshall was unable to plate any runs as the Herd was held scoreless in the first inning for the first time this season.

Appalachian State threatened to score in the second inning, but the Herd defense was able to keep the Mountaineers scoreless. After Harter struck out Kristyn Hurt, she walked Diana Cook and surrendered a single to Elizabeth Holbert. Harter then struck out Kasey Motsinger for the second out. Ashley Gaston followed with a single to left field, loading the bases, but Mary Lutz popped up to Sara Spenia (Las Vegas, Nev./Durango) to end the inning.

After the Mountaineers' near-scoring opportunity in the previous inning, the Herd ended the scoreless tie. Amanda Williams launched a two-out, solo home run to right field, handing Marshall a 1-0 third inning lead.

The Herd increased its lead to 3-0 in the fourth inning on a two-run home run by Rodriguez. The home run was Rodriguez's third in six games - matching her season total from a year ago.



Marshall added five runs in the fifth inning, resulting in the 8-0 victory. With two on and one out, Jessica Williams (Powder Springs, Ga./Harrison) reached on a sacrifice bunt fielder's choice and advanced to second on a throwing error by App State third baseman Lindsay Glover. Sister Amanda and Noelle Adams (Wheeling, W.Va./Linsly School) scored on the play, increasing the lead to 5-0.

Rachel Folden (Baldwin Park, Calif./Diamond Bar) singled home Jessica Williams on an RBI single to center field. Gina Guzzo's (Virginia Beach, Va./Kempsville) pinch-hit two-RBI single to center plated Rodriguez and Courtney Kacenga (Sierra Vista, Ariz./Buena).

The Williams sisters had two hits apiece with Amanda Williams going 2-for-2 with an RBI and two runs scored. Rodriguez went 1-for-3 with a two-run home run, while Guzzo went 1-for-1 with a two-RBI single.

Marshall 8, Appalachian State 0 (Feb 17, 2006 at Athens, Ga.)
Marshall............ 001 25 -  8  6  0      (4-2)
Appalachian State... 000 00 -  0  5  1      (0-1)
Pitchers: Marshall - Abigail Harter. Appalachian State - Keri Blackwelder; Yancy Moose(5); Teri Fister(5).
Win-Abigail Harter(3-0)  Loss-Keri Blackwelder(0-1)  T-1:24  A-175

Game 2 (Marshall 3, Winthrop 0)

Winthrop Box Score

In game two of the afternoon, Marshall took a 3-0 win over Winthrop (0-3). After a slow start in the first game of the day, Marshall began to settle in, taking an early 1-0 lead in the first inning. Rodriguez matched her RBI total from last season with an RBI bloop single that plated Folden for the one-run advantage.

Marshall added to its lead in the third. Junior right fielder Ashley Mitchell (Kennesaw, Ga./Harrison) singled to lead off the inning and later scored from third when Winthrop pitcher Shahna Ashard dropped a pop up by Folden. The error allowed Mitchell to cross the plate, increasing the Herd lead to 2-0.

Rodriguez added her second home run of the afternoon in the sixth inning, increasing the Herd lead to 3-0.

The minimal run support proved to be all second-game starter Veronica Ralston (Tucson, Ariz./Catalina Foothills) would need to earn her second win of the season (2-2). Ralston pitched a complete-game, four-hitter, striking out seven batters.

Mitchell went 3-for-3 with a run scored. Rodriguez went 2-for-3 with two RBI and a home run, while Guzzo, Wintter and Jessica Williams each added a hit.

Marshall's second game of the day saw the end of Folden's six-game hitting streak. Folden went 0-for-2 against Winthrop.

The Third Annual Georgia Softball Classic will continue Saturday with a four-game schedule. Marshall will face Winthrop at 10 a.m., followed by host 12th-ranked Georgia at 2 p.m. Live stats are available at

Marshall 3, Winthrop 0 (Feb 17, 2006 at Athens, Ga.)
Marshall............ 101 001 0 -  3  8  2      (5-2)
Winthrop............ 000 000 0 -  0  4  1      (0-3)
Pitchers: Marshall - Veronica Ralston. Winthrop - Shahna Ashard.
Win-Veronica Ralston(2-2)  Loss-Shahna Ashard(0-2)  T-1:49  A-183