Marshall prepares for first NCAA tournament
HUNTINGTON -- Marshall University is making its first NCAA tournament appearance in the Lexington Regional at John Cropp Stadium in Lexington, Ky.
Marshall is joined in the four-team, double-elimination regional by host Kentucky, Notre Dame and Virginia Tech.
The Herd is one of 31 automatic qualifiers in the 64-team field as the Conference USA champion. At-large bids went to 33 teams.
Kentucky, which plays Marshall at 7:30 p.m., Friday, is the No. 12 overall seed.
Sixteen four-team regionals are being played with the winners advancing to a Super Regional.
Following is a capsule look at teams playing in Lexington.
Marshall Thundering Herd (35-20)
Conference USA champion
NCAA appearance: First.
Head coach: Shonda Stanton.
Hitting leaders: Ashley Gue, Sr. OF, .344, 33 stolen bases, All-CUSA second team; Kaelynn Greene, Fr. OF, .333, 31 stolen bases, All-CUSA first team, CUSA All-Defensive Team; Jazmine Valle, Sr., 3B, .321, 6 HR, 29 RBIs, All-CUSA second team; Alysia Hively, Sr. 1B, .257, 9 home runs, 26 RBIs.
Pitching leader: Andi Williamson, Sr. 32-16, 2.01 ERA, 296.0 innings, 211 hits, 344 strikeouts, 157 walks, All-CUSA second team.
Notes: Defeated Houston, 3-1, in the C-USA championship game. ... .OF Raquel Escareno and UTL Shaelynn Braxton made the C-USA All-Freshman Team.
Kentucky Wildcats (38-18)
NCAA appearance: Fifth.
Head coach: Rachel Lawson.
Hitting leaders: Griffin Joiner, Soph., C, .327, 10 HR, 41 RBIs; All-SEC second team, All-SEC Defensive Team; Kara Dill, Sr. INF, .361; Lauren Cumbess, Jr., INF, .335, 11 HR, 39 RBIs; Sylver Samuel, Fr. OF, .300, 18 stolen bases; Alice O'Brien, Sr. OF, .301, 7 HR, 31 RBis; Nikki Sagermann, Fr., INF, .303, 6 HR, 24 RBIs.
Pitching leader: Kelsey Nunley, Fr., 24-8, 2,10 ERA, 230.1 innings, 187 hits, 175 strikeouts. 93 walks.
Notes: No. 12 national seed. ... One of 11 SEC teams in the tournament. ... Lost in the SEC first round to South Carolina, 6-3.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish (43-13)
Big East Conference
NCAA appearance: 18th.
Head coach: Deanna Gumpf.
Hitting leaders: Emilee Koerner, Soph., OF, .451, 11 HR, 47 RBIs, All-Big East first team, Finalist for USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year; Laura Winter, Jr., INF, .354, 17 HR, 52 RBIs, Big East Player of the Year; OF Kelsey Thornton (.338) and 2B Jenna Simon (.320) both have 17 stolen bases.
Pitching leaders: Laura Winter, 29-10, 1.70 ERA, 255.1 innings, 184 hits, 294 strikeouts, 26 walks.
Notes: 12th consecutive NCAA appearance. ... Lost in Big East finals to South Florida, 1-0. ... C Amy Buntin made the All-Big East second team while 1B Micaela Arizmdndi, 2B Jenna Simon, OF Kelsey Thornton and DP/UTL Cassidy Whidden were on the third team.
Virginia Tech Hokies (35-19)
Atlantic Coast Conference
NCAA appearance: Sixth.
Head coach: Scot Thomas.
Hitting leaders: Kylie McGoldrick, Soph, 2B, .364, 11 HR, 32 RBIs, All-ACC first team; Courtney Liddle, Sr., C-1B, .380, 7 HR, 37 RBIs; All-ACC second team; Lauren Gaskill, Soph, Of, .302, 19 stolen bases; Dani Anderson, Jr., 3B, .300; Amanda Ake, Jr., OF, .208, 5 HR, 25 RBIs.
Pitching leaders: Jasmin Harrell, Sr., 17-8, 3.12 ERA, 143.2 innings, 143 hits, 104 strikeouts, 53 walks; Kelly Heinz, Fr., 15-7, 2.79 ERA, 143.0 innings, 128 hits, 159 strikeouts, 52 walks.
Notes: Lost in the ACC semifinals to N.C. State, 3-1. ... One of four ACC teams in the tournament.
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