Program Feature: Homegrown Talent Fuels Herd Softball|
Nov. 23, 2012
***The following appeared in the Nov. 17 football game program***
Each team, no matter their location, wants local and state talent to make up their roster.
There might be times those players do not contribute as much as others. With Marshall softball that is not the case.
The 2013 squad will include six seniors and three of them are local, state talent. Not only are they just in-state kids, they are the Herd’s leaders on and off the field.
Ashley Gue, Alysia Hively and Andi Williamson are all from the state of West Virginia and represent half of the senior class for head coach Shonda Stanton and are three of the major contributors for the Thundering Herd.
Gue, who after spending two seasons rotating all three position in the outfield, was the team’s starting second baseman for a majority of last season. The Huntington, W.Va. product ranks fifth all-time in stolen bases at Marshall.
The 5-foot-5 speedster will return to the outfield and control center field for her final run with the Herd. She was a captain her junior year and embraces the leadership role.
“The big think from me this year is accountability. They know I care about them as teammates, as friends and as softball players and I want the best no matter what,” Gue said about being a leader.
“Therefore as being a leader I am going to demand that standard of excellence on and off the field and I expect them to be all they can be.”
Playing softball collegiately was never in the cards for Gue. Even on her recruiting visit she still was not planning to suit up for the Herd. But once she went through her visit, Gue, with the help of her aunt, decided to give it a shot.
“Honestly I had no desire to play when I visited, but I figured it was worth seeing things,” Gue said. “I talked to my aunt who played tennis for two years at Marshall. She said it was once in a lifetime opportunity and you don’t have to commit to four years, you could try it for one year.”
“But on my visit I fell I love with everything, academics, the way they help you succeed, the players, the team, and the field. Then the coaches and the role they showed and wanted me to leave a better person then what I can here as. They cared more about me as a person and my development.”
Controlling first base for Marshall is Alysia Hively. As a native of Clay, W.Va., she plays with great pride and emotion for her state. Hively’s parents are also regulars in the stands at each home game and a large mix of road contests. Having her family in stands was also a huge factor for her when choosing schools.
“It’s a great feeling,” Hively said about playing for her home state, “Especially that my family can come and support me each weekend.”
“That was one of the big things when choosing a school, just the fact I get to see them each weekend makes it worthwhile.”
This season comes with even more meaning for Hively. This past summer, two West Virginia State Troopers, Cpl. Marshall Lee Bailey and Trp. Eric Michael Workman were fatally shot near her home in Roane County, W.Va. Both were from her hometown area and were personal and family friends.
Beginning this past fall, Hively donned a tribute sticker on her helmet in memory of the two officers. It has both of their initials and is the same sticker that the football team began wearing during the season. She rubs the sticker before each at-bat.
Hively has also been a clutch performer for the Herd. During senior day last season, with the game scoreless and into the 10th inning, the first baseman belted a home run over the center field fence which sent the Dot Hicks Field record crowd and her bench into frenzy as Marshall swept UCF and went to the C-USA Tournament as the No. 3 seed thanks to her efforts.
“Wow I can’t even…” Hively said, still in disbelief of what she did last May. “It is still hard for me to put it into words. It was amazing to know I could do something like to help my team in such a great way.
Williamson is possibly the most well-known current Herd softball player. The senior pitcher put together a record-setting 2012 campaign. She had 25 wins, the most for a Marshall pitcher in a single-season and 268 strikeouts, two shy of the MU season high mark.
Her success, upbeat personality, and being the daughter of former Herd basketball player Paul Andy Williamson, put her in a position where she became very popular. She became more well-known around campus and was even-more a role model to young girls in an area who saw one of their own make it big on the college scene.
“It’s a very awesome opportunity to have, and I play the game to glorify God so it’s very exciting that I can be an inspiration to these girls in their life and show all things are possible with hard work, dedication and God and its exciting that they can see it too,” said Williamson.
Coming from Harts, W.Va., Williamson didn’t not start her college softball career in the green and white. She signed to play with the University of Tennessee out of high school. After playing very sparingly during her freshman season, she decided to come back home and put on the Herd jersey.
“It’s amazing to be here,” Williamson said about her decision to transfer. “I am so thankful for the coaches and teammates. I really could not be at a better place and I am so happy to be playing for the Thundering Herd.”
Stanton, as head coach is thankful for having in-state talent on her roster year-in and year out. But she says they are not on the roster just because they are from the Herd’s home state, they also bring the level of play needed to compete at this level.
“I have always said those kids (from West Virginia) are on our roster because we knew they could help us compete for championships,” Stanton said.
The West Virginia senior trio is also impactful off the field with involvement in the Lil’ Sis Program.
“You cannot fully comprehend how important it is for young girls to have good role models,” Stanton said about their off-the-field impacts.
The in-state flavor has had a presence in Stanton’s roster during her 14-year tenure. With the likes of recently graduated outfielder Samantha Spurlock, former starting pitcher Autumn Mitchell, former professional Noelle Adams and the most recent roster addition, freshman Alyssa Cook of West Hamlin, West Virginia has been well represented on the state’s lone Division I softball program.
Following a third place regular season last season and a runner-up performance in the Conference USA tournament, Stanton looks to improve and will use her Mountain State talent to take the Herd to the title.