MCGILL: National Ranking Puts Spotlight On Deserving @HerdSB Program
The Word on the Herd -- April 27, 2017
By Chuck McGill
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Marshall’s entrance into the Division I Top 25 softball poll is the latest of a long list of accomplishments this season. It didn’t provide much of a distraction here inside the softball offices.
“All it does it tell the rest of the softball community and the rest of the world that, yes, we have something special here,” MU coach Shonda Stanton said. “It puts a spotlight on us.”
Marshall received 38 points from the 32 voters, the sixth consecutive week the program has received votes for the Top 25.
The Thundering Herd enters the penultimate series of the regular season this weekend at Middle Tennessee, where the team will play a doubleheader Saturday starting at 3 p.m., and a third game Sunday at 1 p.m.
Marshall is 35-7 overall, 13-0 at home and 15-3 in Conference USA play, which are win-loss records that are hard for voters to ignore. But the Thundering Herd softball program is earning national recognition for more than its 35 wins, the school-record 17-game win streak it achieved earlier this season or the unblemished 16-0 record it posted in March.
• Senior shortstop Morgan Zerkle started off the year by being named to the 2017 USA Women’s National Team in January. Later that month, Zerkle was selected as the Conference USA Preseason Player of the Year. She hasn’t slowed down since, and in April she was chosen as one of 34 finalists for the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year and a finalist for the Senior CLASS Award for softball. She ranks No. 2 nationally in batting average (.476) and No. 6 in stolen bases (35 in 39 games).
• Fellow senior Jordan Dixon ranks No. 6 nationally in strikeouts and No. 2 nationally in wins (26-5 in 37 appearances). The right-handed pitcher accomplished a rare career feat this season, earning her 100th win and 1,000th strikeout in four seasons with the Herd. She is one of 58 Division I softball pitchers to combine those milestones, and only the second in Conference USA history.
• Junior second baseman Elicia D’Orazio is tied among the nation’s top base stealers. She has 47 steals in 42 games, an average of 1.12 per game.
• Inside Conference USA, D’Orazio leads the league in runs scored (45) and stolen bases. Taylor McCord has 47 RBIs, easily leading the league.
• Dixon leads C-USA in innings pitched, strikeouts, wins and is tied for the lead in saves.
“We are firm believers in what we do here,” Stanton said. “You would not believe the amount of texts I’ve received from kids who I coached in my very first year here who are telling me how proud they are of what we are doing. It gives me the chance to reciprocate and tell them how proud I am of them for laying the foundation.
“All this does is shine a light on something we’ve already believed. It doesn’t change a thing. This group, we believe it. We believe we’ve earned it. It’s not something that, all of a sudden, we’ve arrived.
“We know now we have to write our finish.”