Marshall softball sweeps Sunday doubleheader
HUNTINGTON — Sunny skies broke out long enough Sunday afternoon for Marshall University’s softball team to sweep Middle Tennessee in a doubleheader at Dot Hicks Field and secure the fifth seed for the eight-team Conference USA tournament.
Marshall, 25-28-1 season and 13-9-1 conference, defeated Middle Tennessee, 8-6 and 3-2.
The Thundering Herd moves on to the C-USA tournament that begins Wednesday at Sue M. Daughtridge Stadium in Charlotte, N.C. Marshall’s first-round opponent in the tournament opener is eighth-seeded Western Kentucky (27-25, 10-13) at noon Wednesday. Tickets are available at http://packthemine49.com/sports/#softball.
Western Kentucky played host to Marshall in April and won two of the three games.
Day one of the tournament is single-elimination with seeds three (FIU) and four (Louisiana Tech) receiving a bye. The top two seeds (No. 1 Florida Atlantic, No. 2 UAB) earned a double-bye to advance to Thursday when it becomes double-elimination until the final two teams are determined and play Saturday for the championship and the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
C-USA tournament games Wednesday, Thursday and Friday will be streamed or televised live on beIN Sports, beIN Connect or beIN’s YouTube channel. The championship game at noon Saturday is a CBS Sports Network telecast.
Sunday was Senior Day for Marshall players Elicia D’Orazio, Taylor McCord, Eloise Tribolet, Madi Marshall, Jordan Colliflower and student assistant Caitlin Gale.
Marshall completed the Sunday sweep with a walk-off win in the second game.
Aly Harrell was hit by a pitch to get the seventh-inning rally going and Abigail Estrada entered as a pinch-runner. Briana Daiss singled back to the pitcher and Estrada advanced to second base. Wylie Glover pinch ran for Daiss. Grayson Radcliffe’s sacrifice bunt moved the runners up and freshman pinch-hitter Rachel Rousseau’s double to left-center field drove in the winning runs.
Ali Burdette pitched seven innings and allowed only seven hits to get the win.
“Today featured two great team wins,” Marshall head coach Jen Steele said in a HerdZone.com report. “We really focused on trusting our preparation and playing for one another this weekend. In game one, we sold out to our game plan and had consistent offense, scoring in four innings.
“Being able to walk it off in the bottom of the seventh in front of our home crowd is the best gift I think we could have given our senior class. They’re a very special group and I am thankful we got to be a part of their final season with the Herd.”
The Herd put together four hits in a four-run fourth inning of the first game. D’Orazio’s two-RBI single highlighted the rally. Tribolet also had a run-scoring single in the fourth inning. Marshall led 7-3 after four innings and the Blue Raiders (34-20, 11-11) drew closer with three in the sixth inning.
Marshall used three pitchers and Kailee Williamson was the winner while Burdette recorded a save.