Historic Season Comes to an End for @HerdSB at NCAA Regionals
Marshall finished season with program record 42 wins
Game One Box Score (PDF)
Game Two Box Score (PDF)
LEXINGTON, Ky. – The 2017 season came to an end for the Marshall softball team after a hard-fought 2-1 win over DePaul to stay alive, and then losing to Illinois 10-2 in the final elimination game. The Thundering Herd ends the year with a program record 42 wins and just 12 losses.
Game One: Marshall 2, DePaul 1 – 8 Innings
Marshall went to extra innings for the second time in the 2017 NCAA Regionals in a tight battle with the DePaul Blue Demons. Both teams struggled offensively to find any rhythm through the first three innings.
DePaul got on the board first with one run in the fourth. Marshall put runners on in the fourth and the fifth but were unable to score.
In the sixth, junior Elicia D’Orazio ignited the Herd offense with a leadoff infield single. She then advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by junior Taylor McCord. D’Orazio then used her speed and expert base running skills to steal third and then home to tie the game. The steal at third gave D’Orazio the Conference USA single-season record with her 58th and then the 59th stolen base of the year to score.
Senior pitcher Jordan Dixon continued her excellence in the circle. Dixon and the Marshall defense shut down DePaul over the seventh and eighth innings retiring six in a row.
Marshall loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh as D’Orazio was intentionally walked but the Herd could not push the winning run across.
In the bottom of the eighth, senior Shaelynn Braxton led off the inning with an infield single. It was the 197th hit of her career. Braxton then advanced to second and third on the next two groundouts. With Braxton standing just 60 feet away from home, sophomore Abigail Estrada stepped to the plate. Estrada was 0-for-3 coming into the at-bat, but with solid contact each time. The sophomore left-fielder fouled off three pitches and finally pushed a walk-off, line-drive single to left field that scored Braxton.
Dixon went the distance allowing just three hits, one run and struck out five. It was her 32nd win of the season.
Elicia D’Orazio and Abigail Estrada were both named the Dot Hicks Significant Sticker Award winners. D’Orazio as the catalyst to tie the game in the sixth inning and Estrada for a great performance to drive in the winning run.
Marshall survived the first elimination game to take on Illinois.
Game Two: Illinois 10, Marshall 2 – 5 Innings
Illinois came out firing on all cylinders in the final elimination game Saturday at John Cropp Stadium. The Illini jumped out to an early 2-0 lead and never looked back. Illinois scored six more in the third and two in the fourth to take a 10-0 lead.
Dixon started the game in the circle and continued to fight and battle despite the hits from the Illinois batters. Sophomore Ali Burdette entered the game in the third and pitched one full inning before being relieved by freshman Kailee Williamson. Williamson pitched the final one and one-third innings.
The Herd offense struggled to break through as many trips to the plate resulted in solid contact, but unfortunately right to an Illinois defender. Senior Morgan Zerkle finally broke off the perfect game in the bottom of the fourth with an infield single. The hit kept alive Zerkle’s hit streak that moved up to 17 games. Both Zerkle and D’Orazio moved in to scoring position; however, the Illinois defense made great plays to get out of the inning.
Marshall showed its heart and toughness in the fifth inning. With two away, and the Herd needing to score at least three runs to stay in the ball game, the Marshall batters put together a valiant two-out rally.
Sophomore Samantha Loose was hit by a pitch with two-outs and no runners on base. Junior Jordan Colliflower came back in to run at first. Then sophomore Briana Daiss blasted her fifth home run of the season to left. Marshall finally got on the board and trailed by eight. Then Zerkle stepped up to the plate and ripped a line drive to right field for her record-breaking sixth triple of the season. Unfortunately for the Herd, it could not push one more run across to move the game into the sixth inning.
Illinois advanced to play Kentucky on championship Sunday. The Illini lost to the Wildcats earlier on Saturday, 1-0. Illinois will have to defeat UK twice to move on to Super Regionals.