Feb. 19, 2011
ATHENS, Ga.- A complete game from Andi Williamson and bats aplenty sealed the Marshall University softball team’s 7-6 victory against North Dakota State on Saturday morning. The Herd (3-6) later fell to second-ranked Georgia in five, 12-2.
NDSU (2-6) opened the second day of play with a two-out rally that produced a 2-0 lead over Marshall in the first frame. Bison leadoff hitter Nicole Rivera doubled to left center before being brought home on a Taylor Mortensen homer to left field.
Rivera and Brea Konz would each connect 2-for-4 at the plate, while the Bison had additional help at the dish from Mortensen and Richel Briones who each went 2-for-3.
The Thundering Herd made an advance of its own during the second inning; with one out against MU, Samantha Spurlock’s single to right put Jessica Hughes on third to set up a chance to close the gap. One out later Spurlock would draw the defense to a play at second allowing Hughes to escape home before the inning finished with the score at 2-1.
“I am pleased with how we came back after NDSU went up 2-0 and with timely hitting we were able to push ahead and extend the lead,” said head coach Shonda Stanton. “They hung around with a two-out sun ball and made it a game the next inning with a two-out blooper in the infield that should have been caught.”
In the bottom of the third, Marshall put on its rally caps to come from behind and claim a 6-2 lead, hitting through the lineup and scoring five runs off six hits.
Top hitters in the game for the Herd were Spurlock and Bri Anna Hope. Spurlock went 2-for-3 with one RBI while Hope collected one RBI and one run scored on a 2-for-2 showing at the plate.
However, the Bison did not back away in the top of the fourth as NDSU saw an in-the-park homer that was lost in the sun from Elisa Victa plate two runs and shrink the Marshall lead down to 6-4.
Rebecca Gamby continued the trend of lighting up the scoreboard every inning, with a homer of her own in the fifth on a shot over the right field fence stretched the Herd lead to 7-4. The long ball is Gamby’s second this season and 13th in her career.
An unusual bounce off a base hit from Konz scored an additional two runs for NDSU, threatening the Marshall lead heading into the bottom of the sixth, 7-6.
Andi Williamson and strong defense would not budge as Marshall went on to win in 6.5 innings. Williamson improves her record to 3-4 after going the distance and striking out nine Bison batters along the way. NDSU’s Randi Parks took the loss, dropping her to 1-1 on the year in her 6.0 inning, three-strikeout performance.
“It was great to see our team hold up and win the one-run game with them knocking at the door in the seventh,” Stanton said. “With our team speed we need to have better instincts on the bases and we need to respect the game better by showing up with the intensity we see in practice.”
“I liked how we came out swinging early in the game and hit solid contact right at them,” said Stanton.
Second-ranked Georgia (9-0) remained unscathed after topping the Herd 12-2 in five innings for Marshall’s second game of the afternoon at the Jack Turner Softball Stadium.
A pitching change in the second saw Williamson come in relief for Natalee Pulver (0-2) who received the loss before leaving the game after 1.2 innings of work. Before exiting, the Bulldogs were able to plate four runs off four hits under Pulver in the second to go up 4-0.
Amanda Lara broke up Sarah McCloud’s no-hitter in the third on a RBI-single to center that scored Ashley Gue from second base. Alianna Telles made it a 4-2 ballgame with a sacrifice fly to left field that plated Lara who was camped on third after a UG error allowed her to round the bases.
With two outs and bases loaded, the Herd walked in a Bulldog run allowing Georgia to extend a 5-2 lead heading out of the third frame. UG made it 6-2 in the fourth as Brianna Hesson homered to left for a four-run cushion. Hesson finished the game 2-for-3 with one run scored and three RBI.
“We hung in the game with it 5-2 going into the bottom of the fourth, but to stay in the game with a great team we have to make plays,” said Stanton. “We let a ball drop without our best effort and let another ball sneak through the right side which extended the inning and they made us pay with three walks and three bombs to put the game away.”
The Bulldogs lit up the scoreboard in the fourth despite Marshall bringing in Erika Bennett for Williamson – who left the circle after 1.1 innings pitched. Bennett was then replaced in the same stanza by Rachel Rillo, who logged the final out after facing three batters. UG scored seven runs off six hits in the fourth en route to an eventual 12-2 five inning run rule.
Marshall will close out the 8th Annual Georgia Softball Classic in an 11 a.m. contest against Winthrop on Sunday.