March 24, 2013
Orlando, Fla.—The Marshall softball team (18-12, 6-3 C-USA) swept the Knights (18-17, 1-8 C-USA) for the second season in a row at the UCF Softball Complex on Saturday, March 23. After winning 10-2 on Friday, the Thundering Herd returned to the UCF field and took the first game of the doubleheader from the home team, 3-1. Due to lightning, a weather delay occurred in game two when the Herd was down by one in the sixth inning with Knights on first and second and only out on the board. Marshall took the field and won 5-4 in an extra inning. In both games, the Herd came back from a one-run deficit to win.
Marshall swept the Knights for back-to-back seasons and for the third time since the Herd joined Conference USA in 2006 (2006, 2012 and 2013). Marshall has won eight of its last eight games, the longest winning streak of the season and since 2007 (April 15-28, 2007). This is the first winning streak that includes the sweep of two C-USA opponents.
Game one was a battle of hurlers and defense. The Herd and Knights mirrored each other for two complete innings. In the first inning, the Herd and Knights sat down the first three hitters of each lineup with one strikeout and two defensive plays. The second inning concluded with one walked runner on base, two strike outs and one defensive play.
The third inning put the Knights on the board with the first hit and run of the game. Kalyn Cenal (1-for-3) doubled to the right side, and pinch runner Kirsten Foster scored off a sacrifice bunt that turned into a Marshall error. Two foul outs and a grounder ended the inning.
In a scoreless fourth inning, the Herd and Knights left runners stranded on second and third base.
Marshall turned the momentum of the game in its favor, with a leado-off single by senior Alysia Hively (1-for-3). Sophomore Emileigh Cooper pinch ran for Hively and advanced to second off freshman Shaelynn Braxton’s (1-for-3) single. Cooper scored off of freshman Kaelynn Greene’s two-out sacrifice bunt that evolved into a UCF error. A grounder to second base concluded the top of a tied 1-1 fifth inning.
Marshall kept UCF scoreless in the bottom of the fifth and returned to the plate with an aggressive two-run sixth inning that was initiated by a one-out bunt single from senior Bri Anna Hope
(1-for-2). Freshman Katalin Lucas
(1-for-1) hit a strong RBI double to break the tie. Lucas advanced and scored on a two-out error by Knights’ short stop that allowed Hively to reach first safely and give the Herd a two-run cushion, 3-1.
Neither team was able to score the rest of the game, which assured Marshall of the series win with a 3-1 final score.
Both teams had a total of five hits in game one. The Herd committed two errors and the Knights registered three.
Game two officially began at 1:20 p.m. ET. The Herd was unable to score in the first, despite the two singles that led off the inning.
The Knights’ Kahley Novak drew a one-out walk from freshman Halie Vance and scored on a stolen base and two back-to-back throwing errors by Marshall. The inning ended with a strike out and grounder to third.
UCF preserved the early 1-0 lead for two scoreless innings, until the top of the fourth.
Marshall showed signs of life after junior Savanah Webster (1-for-4) singled through the right side. Sophomore Kristina Braxton pinch ran for Webster and scored on a Hope (1-for-3) sacrifice bunt that progressed into a throwing error and allowed Braxton to cross home plate. With a safe entry to first base, Hope advanced to third off Lucas’ (1-for-3) high-hit double that fell between the infield and outfield. After a foul out to the catcher, Hively (1-for-3) was intentionally walked to load the bases. Sophomore Emiliegh Cooper (1-for-1) pinch hit for junior Taylor Winton and hit a two-RBI single to break the tie and give the Herd a 3-1 lead. Bayne was brought in to pinch run for Hively at third base and was caught stealing for the second out of the inning. A strike out ended the top of the inning, and Marshall kept UCF off the board in the bottom of the fourth to uphold the 3-1 lead.
The Knights battled their way back into the game in the bottom of the fifth with a lead-off single to the left side from Cenal (1-for-4). Senior Andi Williamson was then brought in to relieve for Vance. A one-out single up the middle from Maddy Schroeder (1-for-4) put her on base and moved pinch runner, Taylor Wagner, to third. A squeezed bunt caught Wagner in a run down at home plate for the second out of the inning. The run down advanced Knights to second and third, and a two-RBI single from Samantha McCloskey (1-for-2) tied the game at three a piece before a fly out to center field ended the inning.
The Herd was sat down in order in the top of the sixth, and was unable to hold down the Knights in the bottom of the inning. A walk put UCF’s Shelby Turnier on first and a late throw to second deemed her safe on a sacrifice bunt. Runners advanced to second and third on a sacrifice, and the tie was broken on a Marshall error. After the delay of game, Williamson struck out the batter that was up to hit, and a grounder to second base ended the inning with the Knights pulling ahead of the Herd by a run, 4-3.
Marshall was fired up by a Hively single to lead off the top of the seventh inning. Freshman Raquel Escareno (1-for-2) advanced her to third with a double to right center, and a UCF error permitted Hively to score and tie the game, 4-4. The Herd was unable to break the tie, but was dominant on defense in the bottom of the inning to take the game into extra innings.
The eighth inning was sparked by a Hope lead-off double to left field. Hope advanced to third on a Lucas sacrifice bunt and scored on senior Jazmine Valle’s (1-for-4) RBI single. Marshall had taken its second and final lead of the game before a pop up to short stop and strike out ended the top of the inning.
The Herd had a three-up, three-down inning to win the game with a final score of 5-4.
Marshall will resume play Tuesday, March 26 with a double header against Wright State at Dot Hicks Field. The Herd is 7-0 at home and is looking to defend the undefeated home record.