April 10, 2013
HUNTINGTON, W.Va.-The Marshall softball team (27-14, 11-4 C-USA) won its 22nd consecutive game at Dot Hicks Field on Wednesday, April 10. The Thundering Herd picked up a 4-1 victory in game one and a 6-1 win in game two against Northern Kentucky (7-30, 1-14 A-Sun).
Marshall had three freshmen in the circle - Halie Vance, Brittanie Fowler and Raquel Escareno. With the victory in the first game, Vance improved to a 2-1 record on the season and recorded a career-high eight strikeouts, surpassing her previous best of two. It was the first complete game Vance had thrown in her collegiate career, while teammate Fowler triumphed in her first collegiate start and Escareno made her first collegiate appearance.
Fowler picked up her first win and set a new, career-best seven strikeouts - she had not recorded more than one strikeout in a game this season and only had two total. Escareno made her pitching debut in the seventh inning of the second game, closing out the victory with a strikeout - her first in her collegiate career. The freshman pitching staff allowed only six hits over the course of the afternoon, Vance with two, Fowler with three and Escareno with one. Neither of the three allowed an earned run.
Not only did the freshmen on this team step up in the circle, but also in the batter's box. Freshman Alyssa Cook recorded her first collegiate homerun in game one (1-for-1) for her second hit of the season.
Marshall jumped out to an early lead in the bottom of the first inning. Freshman Kaelynn Greene (1-for-2) got the action started with a single followed by a stolen base in the next at bat. After senior Jazmine Valle was hit by a pitch, freshman Shaelynn Braxton (2-for-3) connected for a one-out double to left center to drive in the two base runners. Braxton later scored on an error to give the Herd a 3-0 advantage.
The teams played four and a half scoreless innings before the next run crossed the plate in the bottom of the sixth. Cook pinch hit for Savannah Webster to lead off the inning and hit a homer to extend Marshall's lead to 4-0.
Northern Kentucky answered in the top of the seventh with Dee Dee Davis' lead-off double to right center. Davis scored on a one-out error before the Herd forced back-to-back groundouts to Vance to end the game and protect the victory.
Each team ended the game with one error. Marshall recorded six hits and left five runners on base. Greene and Valle recorded one stolen base. For Valle, the stolen base gives her a new career-high of five in a single-season.
The second game began in similar fashion. After forcing the Norse to strand a runner at first in the top of the inning, Marshall's offense went to work in the bottom of the first. Once again, Greene (1-for-2) led off the inning with a single. Senior Ashley Gue's (2-for-2) single advanced Greene to second, but Gue was caught stealing for the first out of the inning. Braxton hit a rocket, line-drive into left field in the next at bat, driving in Greene with the Herd's third-straight single of the inning. Senior Alysia Hively reached on a fielders' choice, which brought Valle (2-for-3) to the plate with one on and two outs. Valle took advantage of the opportunity, crushing a two-run bomb over the left field fence that extended the Marshall lead to 3-0.
Northern Kentucky left one stranded in the top of the second, before sophomore pinch runner Emileigh Cooper replaced Cook on first base after she had reached on a walk. Cooper stole second and third, before scoring on an error. The Norse retired the next three of the Herd's lineup to end the inning and trail the Marshall 4-0.
After retiring the Northern Kentucky in order in the third, Marshall's Gue reached on a bunt to lead off the bottom half of the inning. Gue advanced to second on a stolen base and moved over to third on a hit ground ball that forced Hively out at first. Gue scored on a wild pitch to give the Herd a five-run advantage. Valle drilled a two-out double to center field, but would end the inning stranded at second.
In the top of the fifth, the Norse picked up its first hit since the first inning, but left the runner stranded. Marshall plated its final run of the game in the bottom half of the inning after a walk and hit by pitch. In a double-steal attempt, Gue scored from third on a credited stolen base, but Hively remained at first until a fly out ended the inning.
Northern Kentucky scored its first run of the contest on an error in the top of the seventh, Escareno entered, pinch hitter Taylor Zuberer hit a leadoff double and scored on a two-out error. Escareno finished off the game with a strikeout to secure the14th consecutive win at the "Dot" this season.
Marshall returns to Conference USA play this weekend, hosting East Carolina for a doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m. ET on Saturday, April 13 and a single game Sunday, April 14 at 12 p.m ET.