April 9, 2013
Lexington, Ky.—The Marshall softball team took on No. 20 Kentucky – the second ranked team the Thundering Herd has faced this season – at the UK Softball Complex on Tuesday, April 9. The Herd lost a two-run lead in the bottom of the seventh, and fell 4-3 to the Wildcats.
The 11th matchup between these two teams began in a pitcher’s duel. Marshall’s senior hurler Andi Williamson and Kentucky’s freshman pitcher Kelsey Nunley pitched a scoreless game through three, complete innings.
Nunley had the Herd hitless and scoreless through the first three, giving up her first hit to senior Ashley Gue (3-for-4), who advanced to second after freshman Shaelynn Braxton was hit by pitch. Both runners advanced on stolen bases, but an error in attempt to take out Gue at third base allowed both to continue and Marshall to take the first lead of the game.
Williamson surrendered her first hit of the game in the bottom of the first inning, but did not allow another until the bottom of the fourth. Two back-to-back hits and a Marshall error loaded the bases for Kentucky with one out. A fielder’s choice forced the runner out at home, but Sylver Samuel was able to draw an RBI-walk before the third out was recorded, tying the score at 1-1 in the fourth inning.
The Herd was able to tackle on three more hits, but was unable to score in a bases-loaded opportunity in the fifth. Marshall returned to the field and retired Kentucky in order.
The battle for a game lead continued through a scoreless sixth inning, but was achieved in the top of the seventh when freshman Alexandra Bayne (2-for-3) led off the inning with a double to center field. Teammate and freshman Kaelynn Greene (2-for-4) hit a single, but in the same play, continued on to second, while Bayne took home. Both runners were safe on the play, giving Marshall a one-run lead. Gue connected for an RBI-hit to give the Herd a 3-1 lead before three back-to-back outs ended the inning.
Kentucky came out aggressive in a desperate attempt to take control of the game and was successful. After a lead-off single from Maisie Steed, a wild pitch and Marshall error put her on third. A second error on a fielder’s choice allowed Steed to score and gave the tying run a safe entry into second base – still no outs. A double from Kentucky’s Lauren Cumbess tied the ball game at three apiece. The Herd decided to intentionally walk a Wildcat to load the bases to get its first out on a force out at home plate. On one-out Kentucky’s designated player, Ginny Carroll, hit a walk-off single for the 4-3 win.
Marshall had eight hits and left eight runners stranded on base. Williamson threw 129 strikes and earned two strike outs, now holding the new Marshall-softball, single-season record with 272. The record was set by Sara Gulla, who earned 270 strikeouts in the 2001 season.
The Herd will return to the “Dot” to defend its current 20-game, home-win streak for a doubleheader against Northern Kentucky beginning at 2 p.m.