Herd Battles Memphis to C-USA Doubleheader Split on a Rainy Saturday

April 29, 2006

SOUTHAVEN, Miss. - Despite a 17-hit offensive explosion in a 9-5 game one victory, the Marshall Thundering Herd (30-22, 14-9 C-USA) was unable to complete the doubleheader sweep, earning a twin bill split with the Memphis Tigers (27-23, 9-10 C-USA) Saturday.

Reigning Conference USA Hitter of the Week Amanda Williams (Powder Springs, Ga./Harrison) increased her conference-leading doubles total to 24 two-baggers. Williams finished the afternoon 4-for-7 with three RBI and has now hit safely in 20 of her last 21 games - that span includes a 12-game hitting streak and her current eight-game streak.

Rachel Folden (Baldwin Park, Calif./Diamond Bar) went 5-for-8 with three RBI, increasing her conference-leading total to 53 runs driven in.

The biggest surprise of the afternoon came from freshman Joscelyn Bitner (Virginia Beach, Va./Princess Anne), who finished 6-for-7 with a double, triple and an RBI. Bitner went 4-for-4 in game one, becoming the first player this season to record four hits in a game. Bitner's performance bettered her batting average 94 points to .250 (from a .156 clip).

Game 1 (Marshall 9, Memphis 5)

Game 1 Box Score

Marshall rediscovered its powerful offensive in game one, trouncing the Memphis Tigers for nine runs on 17 hits to take a convincing 9-5 win.

Junior southpaw Abigail Harter (Monmouth, Ore./Santiam Christian) earned her eight win in conference play. Harter (14-9) surrendered five runs on seven hits in 5 1/3 innings, striking out two batters. Amanda Luers (Dover, Ohio/Dover) walked three batters in 1 2/3 innings of scoreless relief.

Memphis' Jenna Kubesch (11-10) was dealt the loss, allowing four runs on four hits in 2 1/3 innings. Nicki Johnson endured most of the damage, surrendering five runs on 13 hits in 4 2/3 innings. The Tigers hurlers combined to strike out three batters.

Five Herd batters recorded multi-hit performances, including a career day by Bitner. She recorded the Herd's first four-hit game of the season, going 4-for-4 with a triple and an RBI.

Folden went 3-for-5 with three RBI, while Amanda and Jessica Williams (Powder Springs, Ga./Harrison) each went 3-for-4 with an RBI.

Bridgette McNulty and Kara Ross each drove in two runs. McNulty was the only Tigers hitter to record a multi-hit game, going 2-for-2 with two runs scored.

After beginning the game with two hitless innings, the Herd offense came alive in the third. The Herd hung a six-spot on the scoreboard, thanks to seven hits to take a 6-0 lead.

Bitner led off the inning with triple to right-center field. Amanda Williams followed with an RBI single to right field. Two batters later, Folden singled through the right side.

Jessica Williams then plated sister Amanda with an RBI double to left-center field, giving the Herd a 2-0 lead. With two outs and the bases loaded, Samantha Rodriguez (Oakley, Calif./Freedom) delivered a two-RBI single to left field, scoring Folden and Jessica Williams for a four-run lead.



Wintter then scored on a Sara Spenia (Las Vegas, Nev./Durango) RBI single to left field. Appropriately, the batter who began the Herd's scoring assault ended it with a run-scoring hit. Bitner's infield RBI single scored Rodriguez to cap the Herd's six-run frame. Spenia was thrown out in a run down to end the inning.

Memphis, however, earned four of those runs back, scoring four in the bottom half of third to cut the deficit to 6-4. Leandra Hines began the inning with a bunt single. Three batters later, Leila Dolfo plated Hines with a two-out RBI single to center field.

Bridgette McNulty followed with an RBI double down the left field line, scoring Dolfo to trim the Herd lead to 6-2. Kara Ross then cleared the bases with a two-run home run to right field. All four of the Tigers' runs in the inning came with two outs.

Marshall continued its offensive onslaught, adding another run on four consecutive hits to extend its lead to 7-4 in the fourth inning. Building upon its explosive inning in the third, the Herd reeled off seven straight hits - all singles. Folden's RBI single through the right side scored Amanda Williams for a three-run cushion.

The Herd increased its lead to five runs, 9-4, in the fifth inning. With one out, Bitner recorded her third hit of the afternoon. Bitner, however, was thrown out attempting to steal second. After an Amanda Williams walk, Ashley Mitchell (Kennesaw, Ga./Harrison) singled to left field, advancing Williams to third.

Folden followed with a two-RBI double to right field, plating Williams and Mitchell, for a five-run Herd lead. Jessica Williams then recorded her second double of the game, however, Leigh Wintter (Acworth, Ga./North Cobb) ended the inning with a fly out to right field.

Memphis pulled to within four runs, 9-5, on McNulty's 10th home run of the season in the sixth. However, Luers was able to force the Tigers into a routine double play to end the game.

Marshall 9, Memphis 5 (Apr 29, 2006 at Southaven, Miss.) (Game 1)
Marshall............ 006 120 0 -  9 17  0      (30-21, 14-8 C-USA)
Memphis............. 004 001 0 -  5  7  1      (26-23, 8-10 C-USA)
Pitchers: Marshall - Abigail Harter; Amanda Luers(6).
Memphis - Jenna Kubesch; Nicki Johnson(3).
Win-Abigail Harter(14-9)  Loss-Jenna Kubesch(11-10)  T-2:02  A-65

Game 2 (Memphis 7, Marshall 2)

Game 2 Box Score

Memphis scored seven unanswered runs and never looked back en route to a 7-2 game two victory over the Herd.

Senior Veronica Ralston (Tucson, Ariz./Catalina Foothills) was dealt the loss in game two, allowing seven runs on six hits in three innings. Ralston (13-13) struck out two batters, while issuing six free passes - five walks and one hit batter.

Kubesch (12-10) earned the victory, pitching a complete-game seven-hitter, striking out four batters.

Folden and Bitner recorded the Herd's only multi-hit games in the second contest - both went 2-for-3. Amanda Williams was credited with driving in the Herd's only runs of the game.

Ross paced the Tigers offensively in game two, going 2-for-3 with two RBI. Dolfo went 2-for-4 with a pair of RBI, while Hayden went 2-for-2 with an RBI and two runs scored.

Memphis jumped out to the early 1-0 lead in the first inning. Dolfo's RBI double to the left-center field gap scored Cara Stiles.

After a 56-minute rain delay in the third inning, the Tigers extended its lead to four runs, 4-0. Prior to the delay, the Tigers had runners on first and second. After the delay, McNulty's RBI double to left-center plated Stiles. Ross followed with a two-RBI single to left field, plating Kimberly Hayden and McNulty for the four-run cushion.

Memphis added three insurance runs in the fourth inning, increasing its lead to 7-0. Hines scored the Tigers' first run on an RBI double by Hayden. Stiles then scored on a passed ball which was followed by Dolfo's RBI single.

The Herd finally cracked the scoreboard in the fifth, taking back two runs to cut the deficit to five runs, 7-2. With one out, Spenia singled down the left field line, followed by Bitner's sixth hit of the afternoon - a bloop double to center field. Amanda Williams then scored both runners with a two-RBI double to right field.

The Marshall Thundering Herd will conclude its Conference USA regular season schedule Sunday against the Memphis Tigers. The series finale will begin at 1 p.m. (EDT).

Memphis 7, Marshall 2 (Apr 29, 2006 at Southaven, Miss.) (Game 2)
Marshall............ 000 020 0 -  2  7  1      (30-22, 14-9 C-USA)
Memphis............. 103 300 X -  7  9  0      (27-23, 9-10 C-USA)
Pitchers: Marshall - Veronica Ralston; Amanda Luers(4). Memphis - Jenna Kubesch.
Win-Jenna Kubesch(12-10)  Loss-Veronica Ralston(13-13)  T-1:57  A-73