Feb. 18, 2011
ATHENS, Ga.- In a pair of slow offensive showings, the Marshall University softball team (2-5) was unable to rally for a win during the first day of the 8th Annual Georgia Softball Classic. The Thundering Herd dropped two one-run games to NC State, 2-1, and Buffalo, 5-4 in extra innings, on Friday afternoon.
NC State (4-3) tacked up the first run of the ball game during the third after Alyssa Ishibashi, who was hit-by-pitch, came home on a long double to right center by Bridget Desbois.
Alianna Telles answered in the bottom of the frame with her first homer of the season to tie it at 1-1, on a muscled longball that was rocketed through the outfield trees in left center. The home run is her career 20th, which ties her with current assistant coach Amanda Williams for fourth-most in the Marshall career record books.
“We had a few offensive mistakes that cost us a chance to score early,” said Stanton. “We played hard but made a few too many mistakes in the field to open up the scoring for them.”
Ishibashi would edge a 2-1 lead for the Wolfpack in the fourth on a single through the left side that plated pinch runner Samantha Melton from third, unearned. Melton came in to run for Alicia Abbott who reached on a walk.
“Sam [Spurlock] came up huge leading off in the seventh with the double and Melissa [Loesing] followed with a two-strike bunt,” said Stanton. “To have runners on the corners with no outs, a couple miscues on the bases cost us an out and a chance to tag.”
Spurlock remained in scoring position at third with one out against the Herd, pitting the Pack against the top of the Marshall lineup - but Marshall would leave her stranded on third in the 2-1 loss.
“We got what we needed out of [Amanda] Lara and Jazmine [Valle] in solid contact. Unfortunately those hits were right at the defense,” Stanton said.
Andi Williamson (2-3) pitched a complete game in the loss, throwing a career game-high six strikeouts. Kayla Cox tallied the win for NC State, pushing her to an even 2-2 record on the season. Cox allowed five hits while striking out eight along the way.
Marshall would again work from behind in the early goings as Buffalo (1-5) scored two runs in the initial inning. A single from Holly Luciano and walk for Kristin Waldron put the duo in scoring position for a Jessica Griffin single through the right side, giving UB a 2-0 lead.
“After the two early runs, Natalee settled and pitched a great game,” said Stanton. “The two-out infield error proved costly for them to extend the lead.”
The Bulls stretched its lead to 4-0 in the third after Griffin reached on an infield error and Sammi Gallardo singled through the right side setting up Tori Pettine in the next at-bat for a two-RBI single through the right side. Both runs went unearned.
Rebecca Gamby put Marshall on the scoreboard with an at-bat that plated Telles’ pinch runner Jessica Hughes - Telles reached two at-bats prior on a single up the middle. Melanie Stoehr closed the gap at 4-2 after her RBI single brought around Brittney Ybarra, who pinch ran for Valle.
The Herd struck again in the fifth to tie it up with Ashley Gue leading off on a single up the middle followed by a bunt from Lara. A wild pitch would move both around the bases in prime position for Gue to score in a Telles at-bat. Lara stole home after Morgan Cottrell forced the defense to make a play at second on her successful stolen base, tying it at 4-4.
Gue finished the game 2-for-3 at the plate with one run scored, as Lara also pitched in going 2-for-4 with one run scored.
In the bottom of the seventh with a runner on first and no outs, MU brought in closer Williamson for Natalee Pulver, who left the game after 6.0 innings pitched and four strikeouts. Williamson made quick work of the next three batters to force the game into extra innings played under the international tie-breaker rule.
MU was unable to convert a run in the top of the eighth with Valle placed on second leaving the game knotted at four runs apiece. Buffalo scored the game-deciding run when Ashley Bertot stole third and crossed the plate on a Marshall throwing error.
“We had a mental mistake with positioning and should have been able to handle the throw,” Stanton said. “I have to give Buffalo credit for taking advantage of that.”
Williamson (2-4) took the loss for the Herd, pitching 1.1 innings and three strikeouts in the appearance. Reliever Tori Speckman was the pitcher of record in the win for UB. Speckman improves her record to 1-1 after 4.0 innings of work and four strikeouts.
“When we do not properly prepare in pregame and fail to adjust at the plate in addition to three errors, we cannot expect to win a one-run ball game,” Stanton said. “Unfortunately on the day we did some good things but they are overshadowed by too many little things that we did not do well.”
Marshall returns to the diamond on Saturday to face North Dakota State at 9 a.m., followed by a 1 p.m. matchup pitted against tournament-host No. 2 Georgia.