Marshall splits two with UTEP
HUNTINGTON -- The Marshall Thundering Herd softball team nearly had a recurring nightmare in a doubleheader with the UTEP Miners Saturday at Dot Hicks Field, but changed the ending the second time around.
Marshall entered the top of the seventh inning in the first game with a 3-0 lead, and got a quick out. Then the Herd surrendered seven straight singles, and suddenly UTEP was up 6-3.
A last at-bat rally floundered, and the Herd had 30 minutes to regroup after a stunning 6-4 loss.
In the second game, Marshall went into the top of the seventh leading 4-2, and, again, after a quick out, the Miners got consecutive singles.
It looked to be deja vu as UTEP's Danielle Pierson made good contact and sent a line drive screaming toward the gap between first and second base.
But a quick lunge from Herd first baseman Alysia Hively changed everything. Hively made the snag, then quickly put the tag on Erika Arcuri, performing an unassisted double play and preserving the win for Marshall (31-20, 12-10 Conference USA).
"I couldn't be more proud of her," said head coach Shonda Stanton. "I knew she was frustrated in game one. She only saw six pitches in three at-bats. In the second game she went 2-for-3, and that first hit was a shot. And she's such a stud for us over at first base. It's great for a senior to have those moments and do what she's doing."
Hively is one of six seniors who are playing their last series at home with the Herd before the C-USA tournament in Tulsa, Okla.
Another is pitcher Andi Williamson who continues to shatter MU records and boggle the mind with her durability.
Williamson (28-17) pitched complete games in both contests Saturday, and could have killed the umpire with some of her stares after pitches that are typically called strikes went as balls.
In the first game she had three strikeouts, and was in the eye of the hurricane during the seventh inning collapse.
She also struggled in the first few innings of the second contest.
But before long, she was mowing batters down, finishing the second game with 9 Ks.
"I finally quit worrying about everything I was frustrated about -- about it being senior weekend and my last series at home -- and I just told myself to bear down and play ball like I know I can," Williamson said. "I was trying to place my pitches instead of just throwing, and I finally decided if they hit it, they hit it, I'm just going to play my game."
Soon those glares at the ump turned to smiles as Williamson started ringing up batters left and right.
"The interesting thing about Andi is that she tends to get stronger as the game goes on," Stanton said. "We're used to her getting stronger and it just didn't happen in the first game. She was out of sorts and it just wasn't her.
"In that game two she was sharp. I don't think the strike zone changed, I just think she was sharper and better."
The Herd concludes its series with UTEP, and the last home game for Hively, Williamson, Ashley Gue, Bri Anna Hope, Jazmine Valle and Jessica Ferrick, starts at 11 a.m. Sunday at Dot Hicks Field. Senior day ceremonies kick off at 10:30 a.m.
Marshall is guaranteed back-to-back winning seasons in-conference, and will play East Carolina in the first round of the C-USA tournament starting Thursday, May 9.
Marshall will face East Carolina in the first round
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