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Editor’s note: As Marshall prepares to leave Conference USA for the Sun Belt, this series counts down the top 10 moments in the Herd’s 17 years of C-USA. No. 8 is Marshall’s first-ever Conference USA softball title.

Marshall head coach Shonda Stanton had plenty of special softball teams in her tenure with the Thundering Herd, but the 2013 team may have stuck out just a bit above the rest.

That team — featuring solid pitching and timely hitting with speed — won the 2013 Conference USA title and made some noise in the Kentucky regional that year in the NCAA Tournament.

It was a team that provided plenty of highlights from an individual and team perspective en route to its first-ever Conference USA softball title.

And for Marshall, it wasn’t just about winning the league; it was also about the way they did so.

In the Conference USA Tournament, the Herd got off to a rough start and appeared to be on its way out in its first game after committing five errors in the first four innings, which led to a 4-1 deficit.

However, the Herd came back behind the pitching of Andi Williamson, who shut the door from there and the team got just enough offense to earn a 5-4 win.

From there, Williamson was electric in the tournament’s final two games, allowing one earned run in the final 14 innings as the Herd got a 1-0 win over UAB to move into the championship, where it got a 3-1 win over Houston, which had won 40 games.

The victory not only gave Marshall the title but also a berth in the NCAA Tournament, where it waited on the NCAA Selection Show.

The team waited for that announcement in the Hartley Room of the Cam Henderson Center with excitement and finally heard its name called in the Kentucky regional, taking on the host Wildcats while also seeing Virginia Tech and Notre Dame in the same field.

From the beginning, the Herd showed it belonged as Williamson kept UK at bay and Shaelynn Braxton drove in Kaelynn Greene for the game’s first run.

However, UK tied the game in the fifth inning before the game went to extra innings, where the Wildcats earned the 2-1 victory.

The loss set Marshall up with Notre Dame the next day and the Herd proved that it was no No. 4 seed in the field, using a two-run second inning and countering Notre Dame’s lone run in the third to earn a 3-1 win that knocked the Fighting Irish out of the tournament.

The victory sent Marshall into the consolation final, where they met up with Virginia Tech in what became one of the most epic softball matchups in Herd history.

Marshall took a 2-1 lead in the fifth after scoring a pair of runs, but Virginia Tech tied it with a run in the bottom of the sixth inning.

From there, Williamson and Virginia Tech’s Jasmin Harrell matched zeroes, as the game slugged along into the 13th inning before the Hokies got a walkoff single down the left-field line to end a 3-2 contest and the Herd’s season.

Still, the season was one for the ages as Williamson took over what was, at the time, sole possession of the all-time career record for strikeouts in the Virginia Tech loss, passing former Herd great Sara Gulla. It was later passed by Jordie Dixon.

Williamson earned 65 wins in just three seasons, which ties her for second all-time in the Herd record books. She also has the most strikeouts per seven innings of any pitcher in Marshall history.

The team finished the season with a record of 36-22 and gave Marshall its first taste of the C-USA softball championship and success at the NCAA Tournament.

It was a team that laid the groundwork for what has become a consistent top-tier program in Marshall athletics.

Grant Traylor is the sports editor of The Herald-Dispatch, who also covers Marshall athletics for HD Media. Follow him on Twitter @GrantTraylor.

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