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Herd Uses Two Late-Inning Rallies, Locks Up Wins Over Western Carolina, Drexel Friday

Feb. 23, 2007

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Facing a possible 0-2 start in the First Pitch Classic, the Marshall Thundering Herd used a pair of late-inning rallies to improve to 6-6 on the season.

The Herd (6-6) committed four errors in the first game, but did not commit a fielding mishap in the second game. Marshall left a combined 23 runners on base Friday afternoon.

Sophomore J.J. Bitner (Virginia Beach, Va./Princess Anne) went 4-for-6 with two RBI on the afternoon, while extending her team-best hitting streak to 12 games. Samantha Rodriguez (Oakley, Calif./Freedom) went 3-for-8 with three RBI in the two victories.

Conference USA Preseason Player of the Year Rachel Folden (Baldwin Park, Calif./Diamond Bar) extended her hitting streak to 10 games with a 3-for-6 day.

Game 1 (Marshall 10, Western Carolina 8)

Marshall-Western Carolina Box Score

Despite committing four errors and leaving 11 runners on base, the Herd overcame its setbacks, scoring five runs in the sixth inning to take a 10-8 win over Western Carolina. Marshall (5-6) has stranded at least nine runners in each of its last three games.

Freshman Erin DeStefano (Wildwood, Mo./Lafayette) earned the first win (1-0) of her young career, allowing two runs on six hits in 3 2/3 innings of relief. Eight of the Herd's nine batters recorded a hit with Rachael Sofie (Everett, Wash./Cascade) going 3-for-4.

The Catamounts' Mendy McKenzie (1-4) suffered the loss, along four runs on four hits in 2 2/3 innings. Savannah Filley surrendered six runs on eight hits in 3 1/3 innings.

Western Carolina (1-6) knocked around starter Amanda Luers (Dover, Ohio/Dover) in the visitor half of the first inning. The Catamounts scattered three hits, while pushing across a run to take a 1-0 lead. McKenzie and Serena Smith each rattled off a single to right field on successive pitches, quickly putting two runners on.

Two batters later, Filley drew a one-out walk to load the bases for Lauren Ross, who singled home Smith for the game's first run.

Marshall batted around in the home half of the third inning, plating three runs to take a 3-1 lead. After Caitlyn Jackson (Ontario, Calif./Pomona Catholic) drew a lead-off walk, Folden put runners in a scoring position with double to centerfield. Rodriguez then loaded the bases with a walk.

Jackson later scored after Gina Guzzo (Virginia Beach, Va./Kempsville) drew a bases-loaded walk to even the game, 1-1. Three batters later, Knecht plated Folden and Rodriguez with a bloop two-RBI double down the left field line, giving the Herd a 3-1 lead.



However, the Herd's slim two-run lead would not hold as the Catamounts scored five runs in the fourth inning to take a 6-3 lead. Western Carolina's five run frame was aided by five singles and three Herd fielding errors, including two throwing errors by Knecht.

The Herd responded to the Catamounts' five-run frame with two runs in the fourth inning to cut the lead to 6-5. With two on and nobody out, Rodriguez ripped a two-RBI single to centerfield, scoring Jackson and Folden. Later in the inning, a base-running mistake by Guzzo cost the Herd a potential third run of the inning.

For the second consecutive inning, the Herd would leave the bases loaded at the end of the frame.

The fifth inning proved another costly one for the Herd as Marshall another critical base-running mistake. With Bitner on second, Folden blooped an opposite-field single to shallow left field. However, Bitner hesitated and was subsequently thrown out at third.

Drexel added a run in both the fifth and sixth innings to take an 8-5 lead. However, for the fourth time this season, the Herd was on the winning end of a late-inning comeback.

Marshall scored five runs in the sixth inning with Bitner providing the tying and go-ahead runs on a two-RBI bunt single in front of the plate. Jackson later drove in the Herd's 10th run of the game to give Marshall a two-run lead.

DeStefano retired the Western Carolina side in the seventh inning to earn her first career win.

Marshall 10, Western Carolina 8 (02/23/07 at Charlotte, N.C.)
Western Carolina.... 100 511 0 -  8 16  1      (1-6)
Marshall............ 003 205 X - 10 12  4      (5-6)
Pitchers: Western Carolina - MCKENZIE,MENDY; FILLEY,SAVANNAH(3). Marshall - Luers, Amanda; DESTEFANO, Erin(4).

Win-DESTEFANO, Erin(1-0) Loss-MCKENZIE,MENDY(1-4) T-2:30 A-62

Game 2 (Marshall 8, Drexel 4)

Marshall-Drexel Box Score

Tied 4-4 in the sixth inning, Marshall scored four runs in the seventh to lock up its second straight come-from-behind victory, taking an 8-4 win.

Senior southpaw Abigail Harter (Monmouth, Ore./Santiam Christian) secured her third complete-game victory (3-3) of the season. Harter allowed four runs on seven hits, while striking out a season-high eight batters. Drexel's Brianna Gomez (0-1) was dealt the loss, allowing four runs on four hits in 2 1/3 innings.

For the second straight game, the Herd scored three runs in the third inning. This time, Marshall took a 3-0 lead. Rodriguez and Rachel Schmidt (Alliance, Ohio/Marlington) each recorded RBI singles, while Christina Guillen (Chino, Calif./Midland College) later added an RBI fielder's choice.

However, much like the Herd's earlier game, its lead would not stand. Drexel scored four runs in the bottom of the fourth inning to take a 4-3 lead.

After Brianne Brown's RBI single gave the Dragons their first run, Ashley Botelho cleared the bases with a three-run home run to centerfield.

Marshall provided the equalizer, 4-4, in the fifth inning after Bitner drew an RBI bases-loaded walk.

The Herd pushed across the go-ahead run in the seventh inning on Marcena Bertoldo's (Beaumont, Calif./Rialto) infield RBI. Marshall added three more runs in the frame to clinch the win.

The Marshall Thundering Herd returns to the diamond Saturday for the second day of the First Pitch Classic. The Herd will face the hosting Charlotte 49ers at 2:30 p.m., followed by Shonda Stanton's alma mater, UNC Greensboro, at 6:30 p.m. CSTV GameTracker will be available via .

Marshall 8, Drexel 4 (02/23/07 at Charlotte, N.C.)
Marshall............ 003 010 4 -  8  8  0      (6-6)
Drexel.............. 000 400 0 -  4  7  5      (0-1)
Pitchers: Marshall - Harter, Abigail. Drexel - Veilleux, Ashlee; Gomez, Brianna(5).

Win-HARTER, Abigail(3-3) Loss-Gomez, Brianna(0-1) T-2:33