No. 23 @HerdSB Takes the Series over UAB and the No. 1 Seed in C-USA
Zerkle homers in her final plate appearance at home
Box Score Game One (PDF)
Box Score Game Two (PDF)
Coach Stanton Post Game Video
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – The 23rd ranked Marshall softball team took the series over the UAB Blazers after splitting a Saturday doubleheader at Dot Hicks Field. UAB won game one, 11-8, and Marshall had a comeback win in game two, 8-4. The Thundering Herd ends the regular season with an overall record of 40-8, 20-4 in Conference USA and the No. 1 seed going into the conference tournament. The Blazers finish the regular season 21-32 and 12-12 in conference.
Game One: UAB 11, Marshall 8
The Blazers took advantage of five Herd errors and hit four home runs in ending Marshall’s 15-game home winning streak.
Marshall scored first in the bottom of the second with four runs. Freshman Elizabeth DeShields drove in one run, sophomore Abigail Estrada added a two RBI single and senior Morgan Zerkle pushed the fourth run across with a double down the right field line.
UAB scored two in the third with the first home run and then a RBI single. Marshall tacked on two more runs in the bottom of the inning to push the lead back to four. Sophomore Briana Daiss plated senior Shaelynn Braxton with a double. Daiss later scored on a play at the plate when the UAB catcher dropped the ball.
The Blazers fought back in the fourth scoring four runs off four hits and two Herd errors. Senior Jordan Dixon started the game and was pulled in the fourth but then re-entered a few batters later.
With the game tied at 6-6, UAB took the lead for good as Mary Warren hit a grand slam in the sixth. Marshall scored two more runs in the bottom of the inning; however, UAB came back with its fourth home run of the game to put the lead back to three.
Game Two: Marshall 8, UAB 4
Marshall responded in game two taking an early 3-0 lead. The Blazers took a one-run lead in the fourth until the Herd went yard twice in the bottom of the sixth to regain the lead and eventually its 40th win of the season.
Sophomore Ali Burdette got the start in the circle for Marshall. She pitched three and two-thirds innings and allowed four runs. Dixon entered the ball game with two outs in the fourth and then shutout the Blazers the rest of the way for the win.
In the first, Morgan Zerkle led off with a bunt-single and then junior Elicia D’Orazio got on with a walk. Junior Taylor McCord hit a double to left field that scored Zerkle. Three batters later, with two outs, Abigail Estrada single to left that scored both D’Orazio and McCord.
UAB scored its first run in the second as Mary Warren hit a solo shot to center. Burdette struck out the final batter, leaving a runner stranded at first.
Both offenses were quiet over the next inning and-a-half until the Blazers could string four hits together in the top of the fourth and take a one-run lead, 4-3. Marshall’s offense continued to struggle until the bottom of the sixth.
Shaelynn Braxton led off the inning a bloop single in shallow left-center. Daiss came up next and what followed was an epic 15-pitch battle. Daiss fouled off 10 pitches and made UAB’s starter, Cara Goodwin go deep into the pitch count. The marathon at-bat finally ended when Daiss sent a laser over the wall down the left field line that stayed fair. Marshall grabbed a one-run lead, but the Herd bats were not finished.
Two batters later Estrada singled to center for her second hit of the game. With two outs, junior Madi Marshall was hit by a pitch to put two runners on, allowing Zerkle to step up to the plate one more time. The senior from Milton, W.Va., attacked the first pitch and sent the ball flying over the fence in right field. The three-run homer was her eighth of the season and gave her 42 RBIs for the year. Both are career-highs.
Dixon and the Marshall defense retired the Blazers in order in the top of the seventh in just nine pitches. Dixon won her 30th game of the year and Marshall recorded its 40th win and the Conference USA Regular Season Championship.
Briana Daiss was named the Dot Hicks Significant Sticker Award winner for the game two victory. Her two-run home run in the sixth gave Marshall the lead. The at-bat was a great battle as Daiss stayed focused at the plate and kept fouling away close pitches until blasting out the 15th pitch to deep left field.
Head Coach Shonda Stanton
“We didn’t have a good start at all. It was just one of those games where we weren’t sharp in the circle, defensively we had five errors and then offensively we were swinging at balls and taking strikes. It was a very uncharacteristic, odd start. Fortunately, we were in a situation where we clinched the C-USA regular season title last night, so that was exciting to see. I was very disappointed with game one. We’ve played so well at home. It was just one those days where we didn’t play well and I am glad that we got it out of our system.”
‘It was exciting to see how we rebounded. Especially with how poorly we played in game one but it is about having a short-term memory and only being as good as your next pitch. I was pleased to see that Burdette gave us a good start and then Dixon came in and finished the game.”
“What can you say about Daiss’s at-bat? It was one of the best at-bats all season. A 15-pitch at-bat where she battled and then just lasered that two-run bomb for us to take the lead. I can’t say enough about Madi Marshall’s at-bat when she came in and gave us a chance to extend the inning and get to Zerkle. You want a chance to get to your playmakers. Madi gets the hit-by-pitch. Then when you coach these student-athletes and you get to see them grow as people. It was nice to have that moment with Zerkle, to call the timeout, I went over to her to let her know what to look for, and she already knew. She knew the game plan. She cut me off mid-sentence and said she had it. Then one pitch later, she sends it 250 feet over the right field wall. We needed that insurance”
“You look over the day, with it being senior day, and you see Shae and Zerkle getting hits in their last at-bats and Dixon comes in and gets the win. You are talking about a ball club with 40 wins for the year and 20 conference wins. This is a team that continues to re-write the record books.”
Marshall will head back to Hattiesburg, Miss., for the Conference USA tournament May 10-13. Since Marshall is the top seed, the Herd will not play until Thursday (May 11) when the double-elimination rounds begin. Seeds 3-8 play Wednesday (May 10) in a single-elimination round.