MU women beat UAB in C-USA opener
BOCA RATON, Fla. -- Marshall University is back to its winning ways in the Conference USA softball championship tournament.
Marshall began defense of the 2013 tournament title Thursday with a 4-0 defeat of UAB at the FAU Softball Stadium.
"We just beat a very impressive, very solid UAB ballclub," Marshall head coach Shonda Stanton said. "You're talking about a team that had the 10th strongest schedule in the nation. They were the No. 2 seed coming in."
Seventh-seeded Marshall (27-30) advanced to the semifinal round at 2 p.m. Friday against sixth-seeded East Carolina. The Pirates (28-19) beat third-seeded FIU in the first round, 5-1.
Marshall and East Carolina played a three-game series March 21-22 in Greenville, N.C., and the Thundering Herd won two.
Freshman Jordan Dixon pitched MU past UAB (31-25). Dixon allowed only eight hits, walked one and struck out nine in her 19th win of the season.
"Jordan pitched phenomenally," Stanton said. "We made plays behind her."
Marshall broke from a scoreless tie in the fifth inning.
Emileigh Cooper singled to begin the rally, but was out on a fielder's choice that put Kristina Braxton on base. Morgan Zerkle bunted for a single and Kaelynn Greene's single loaded the bases.
Back-to-back singles by Shaelynn Braxton and Savanah Webster put two Marshall runs on the scoreboard. Raquel Escareno followed with a two-run single.
"We went toe-to-toe through four innings," Stanton said. "In the fifth inning our kids continued to battle, continued to fight."
Marshall had 10 hits with Shaelynn Braxton going 3-for-4. Greene and Webster were both 2-for-4.
The Blazers were led by Caitlin Alford with three hits in four at-bats.
East Carolina started quickly in its victory with four runs in the first inning.
Shelby Johnson of the Pirates was 3-for-4 while pitchers Caroline Umphlett and Sarah Christian combined to toss a seven-hitter.
FIU finished the season with a 33-20 record.
In game one of Thursday's second session top-seeded Tulsa (48-7) scored in the bottom of the seventh inning for a 1-0 win against eighth-seeded Charlotte.
North Texas, seeded fifth, went 10 innings to get a 5-4 victory over fourth-seeded Florida Atlantic.
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