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Zerkle Named Senior CLASS Award Finalist as @HerdSB Travels to FIU

Senior Morgan Zerkle is one of 10 finalists for the Senior CLASS Award.
April 13, 2017

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MIAMI, Fla. - Senior shortstop Morgan Zerkle was selected as one of the 10 finalists for the Senior CLASS Award announced Thursday. At the same time, the Thundering Herd (32-5, 14-1 C-USA) is on the road to take on the FIU Panthers (32-10, 8-4 C-USA) for a three-game series. The doubleheader begins Friday, April 14 at 4 p.m. The series finale is Saturday, April 15 at 12 p.m.
For a player to be eligible for the Senior CLASS Award, they must show considerable achievements in four areas of excellence: community, classroom, character and competition. Zerkle is Marshall's first finalist for the award since Rachel Folden in 2008. CLASS stands for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School.
Only 10 players from across the country are selected as finalists. The finalists are chosen by national media from a list of 30 candidates. Nationwide online fan voting begins immediately through May 9 to help select the winner. Fan votes will be combined with those of the media and Division I head coaches to determine the winner, who will be announced during the Women's College World Series, June 1-7.
On Wednesday, Zerkle was named one of 34 finalists for the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year. The senior from Milton, W.Va., will be playing with the 2017 USA Softball National Team this summer.
Marshall is on the road, back in conference action, at FIU.
The Series
Marshall and FIU first met during the Panther's second season of existence on March 20, 1999 at the Winthrop Invitational in Rock Hill, S.C. Marshall won the game 1-0. 15 years went by before the two schools met on the same field again. April 18-19, 2014 in Huntington as both schools were now in Conference USA. Marshall swept the home series 6-4, 8-4 and 6-2. Raquel Escareno, Savanah Webster and Taylor Winton all hit home runs in the series and freshman Jordan Dixon won two of the games. In 2015, Marshall made its first trip down to the FIU campus in Miami and dominated the first two games of the series. The games played on until late in the night of March 7 as game one including a long rain delay, and the Herd slugged its way to a 13-5, run-rule victory. Junior Morgan Zerkle belted her first home run that went out of the park as earlier in the year she had an inside-the-park homer. Escareno once again went deep and Dixon won her 13th game of the season. Game two finally got started at 9 p.m., and Marshall again put up 13 on the Panthers. Marshall led 6-3 entering the top of the seventh. The Herd rattled off seven runs as 12 batters came to the plate. Zerkle finished the game 4-of-5 with a double and a triple. Shaelynn Braxton belted a home run and finished with two hits. Juniors Katalin Lucas and Alyssa Woodrum added two hits each. The Panthers responded on Sunday with a dominating 9-1 win in the series finale. The latest series was April 30-May 1, 2016 in Huntington. It was senior weekend and a sophomore came through in a big way for Marshall in game one. Madi Marshall stepped up in the fifth inning with the bases loaded and hit her first career home run over the fence in left-center for a grand slam. Then after Elicia D'Orazio stole second and third, senior Kaelynn Greene dropped down a bunt to score D'Orazio to end the game in the fifth. The teams had to play a doubleheader on Sunday due to rain the day before. FIU took game two, 6-4. Seniors Brittanie Fowler and Kaelynn Greene were magnificent in their final appearances at Dot Hicks Field for game three. Fowler came on in relief of Dixon in the second inning and pitched the final six innings allowing just three hits and no runs. Greene was 3-for3 at the plate, scored a run and drove in another as Marshall won 3-2.
FIU sits in second place in the C-USA East Division standings with an overall record of 32-10 and 8-4 in conference. The Panthers had a 17-game win streak that ended the same day that Marshall's win streak was capped, April 1 at Florida Atlantic. Since the 17-game win streak, FIU has gone 1-4. The Panthers lost the final game to FAU and then dropped the first two games to UTSA the following weekend before winning the series finale 7-4. Sophomore Jackie Schoff and senior Stephanie Texeira lead the offense. Schoff is batting .437 with 45 hits, 38 runs scored, four doubles, two triples, one home run and 21 stolen bases. Texeira is hitting .373 with 44 hits, 36 runs scored, six doubles, nine home runs and 35 RBIs. Junior Kasandra Castle is tied for the team lead with Texeira in RBIs (35). Senior Ashley Leon has 43 hits and is 14-of-14 in steal attempts. In the circle, freshman Shannon Saile leads the team in innings with 120.2 and 146 strikeouts. The freshman right-hander has a 1.97 ERA and a record of 10-7. All four pitchers for the Panthers have ERAs under 2.00: Summers 1.68 (71.0 IP), Megan Kugelmann 1.83 (80.1 IP), Saile 1.97 (120.2 IP) and Rachel Dwyer 1.83 (7.2 IP).
Fans can tune in to the action for all three games with 88.1 WMUL-FM and online at through one of the Listen Live links. Scott Hall will have the call.