May 10, 2013
TULSA, Okla. – Four teams are advancing to the Conference USA semi-finals, and Marshall is one of them after a big, three-run double in the fifth inning gave the Thundering Herd its first and only lead of the game. The 5-4 victory advances them to the next round, where Marshall will face UAB on Friday, May 10 at 4:30 CT.
The Herd had fives across the board – five runs, five hits and five errors – while also stranding seven runners on base. In senior Andi Williamson’s 30th victory of the season, she gave up no earned runs. Senior Jazmine Valle (1-for-3), freshman Alexandra Bayne (1-for-2) and senior Bri Anna Hope (1-for-2) were responsible for all the RBIs of the night, all of them connecting for clutch hits in two-out situations.
“We had some kids really make some clutch hits for us to take the lead,” said head coach Shonda Stanton. “I’m really proud of the girls’ fight, being down.”
ECU capitalized early in the first inning, when a lead-off single to center field and Marshall error allowed the Pirates to put a runner on third off of one pitch from Williamson. The runner crossed the plate with the aid of the following single, but three back-to-back outs were recorded to end the inning before another run could score, 1-0.
Valle stepped up to the dish with two-out pressure on her shoulders and smashed her sixth homer of the season out of the park to tie the game, 1-1. The Herd was able to put two more on base with an infield single from freshman Shaelynn Braxton (1-for-3) and a senior Alysia Hively walk, but a fly out to left field ended the first inning.
The tie was broken after a scoreless second inning. An initial error by Marshall’s first baseman put a runner on base in the top of the third. A sacrifice bunt and grounder to Williamson recorded two outs, but allowed the runner to advance to third base. A throwing error by the Herd’s third baseman allowed the second unearned run to score to give ECU the lead, again, 2-1.
The Pirates held the Herd scoreless in the bottom of the third and took advantage of two more Marshall errors in the top of the fourth to extend the lead to 4-1.
The Herd was able to get one back in the bottom of the fourth after a one-out double from Savanah Webster (1-for-2) fired up the Herd. Sophomore Kristina Braxton was brought in to pinch run, before Hope was hit by pitch. Both runners advanced to second and third after tagging up on a fly ball to center field. Lead-runner, K. Braxton scored on an RBI-single from Bayne, but the inning closed on a grounder to the shortstop.
After retiring the Pirates in order for the first time, the Herd took its first lead of the contest in the fifth inning. A one-out walk drawn by Valle initiated the three-run inning. Sophomore Emileigh Cooper was brought in to pinch run in Valle’s place, and she advanced to second on a wild pitch. Cooper safely reached third base on an error by ECU’s centerfielder that allowed S. Braxton to stand safely at second base before a strikeout recorded the second out of the inning. With two-outs in a two-run deficit situation, Webster drew a walk to load the bases. Hope came up big and cleared the playing field with a three-RBI double that pushed the Herd ahead, 5-4.
Neither team was able to score again and in key circumstances, diving plays saved the game. Herd improves to a 2-1 record against the Pirates in post season. Thus far, the Herd has mirrored last season by defeating ECU and moving on to UAB in round two of the C-USA tournament.
Houston, Tulsa, UAB and Marshall have all earned a spot into the C-USA semifinals. The first game is between Houston and Tulsa and 2 p.m. CT, with UAB and Marshall’s matchup to follow.