HUNTINGTON, W.Va.--The Marshall softball team (27-14, 11-4 C-USA) will return to Conference USA action with a three-game set against East Carolina (15-24, 5-7 C-USA) April 13-14. The freshman class looks to continue its dominating performance in hopes of extending the Thundering Herd's 22-game home winning streak. The action begins with a doubleheader Saturday with games at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. ET with a Sunday finale scheduled for 12:00 p.m. ET.
Marshall and East Carolina have met 27 times in the past. The series was even at 13 games apiece until Marshall earned an 8-1 victory in the first round of the 2012 C-USA tournament to take a 14-13 advantage. The Herd recorded a C-USA tournament-high 13 hits in the matchup, where senior Jazmine Valle went 2-for-4 with two RBI. Senior Alysia Hively also contributed with a two-RBI double to center field. Defensively, Andi Williamson held the Pirates to just one earned run on four hits. She recorded five strikeouts in the complete game performance.
Marshall is coming off a doubleheader sweep of Northern Kentucky in which freshmen controlled the circle. Halie Vance picked up her second win of the season in a 4-1 victory in game one, while recording a career-high eight strikeouts in her first complete game. In game two, Brittanie Fowler earned her first collegiate start and secured a 6-1 victory behind a career-best seven strikeouts. It was the first multi-strikeout game of her career. Raquel Escareno made her first pitching appearance in the seventh inning, recording her first strikeout in her pitching debut.
The freshman class also came up big in the batter's box in Wednesday's action. Shaelynn Braxton, the reigning Conference USA Hitter of the Week, went 3-for-5 on the afternoon. She scored a run and drove in three. Kaelynn Greene (2-for-4) recorded two RBIs and two runs scored, while teammate Alyssa Cook (1-for-2) hit her first collegiate home run.
Ashley Gue stole two bases in the second game, putting her over the 100 mark, which only three Marshall players have reached. She sits at 101, two away from tying Jessica Hughes (103). The number one spot is held by Sierra Davenport (2001-04) with a whopping 130.
In conference play, Marshall has won its last four series, most recently defeating the Houston Cougars. Over that span, the Herd swept three opponents - Southern Miss, UCF and Memphis. Despite picking up the series win in Houston, the Herd saw their record 10-game conference winning streak come to an end with a 6-4 loss in the second game of the series.
Greene leads the Herd in C-USA action with 20 hits and a .392 batting average. She has driven in two runs and crossed the plate ten times herself. Escareno and Braxton are tied with a team-high four home runs, barely edging out senior Alysia Hively, who has hit three. Braxton also leads the team with 15 RBI, six more than the next highest total put up by Jazmine Valle (9).
East Carolina enters the weekend fresh off of a 6-4 victory over No.17/21 Tulsa Sunday, April 7. In that game, Jordan Lewis homered and drove in four runs for the Pirates. Lewis is second on the team with a .353 batting average. She has recorded 20 RBIs and hit four home runs, both of which are also second-best marks for the Pirates. Alex Fieldhouse leads East Carolina with six home runs, while Kristi Oshiro's .384 batting average is a team best.
Sarah Christian has 29 appearances in the circle for East Carolina, boasting an 11-11 record, an ERA of 3.18 ERA and 84 strike outs. Teammate Courtney Smith has 22 appearances for a 3-10 record and 3.82 ERA.