On a chilly day in the hills of Boone, North Carolina, the Marshall softball team picked up its first-ever Sun Belt Conference win and 22nd victory of the season, 6-0, over Appalachian State on Saturday.
The series was supposed to be three games, one each Friday through Sunday, but heavy amounts of rain forced the two sides into a scheduled doubleheader on Saturday with the finale scheduled still for Sunday.
But after the rain, freezing temps moved in overnight Friday to Saturday and froze the tarp placed over the infield at Sywassink-Lloyd Family Stadium, pushing the start time of the doubleheader back even further from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
As it turned out, there would be just one game Saturday after all as the second game was called off due to cold temperatures. In any case, the Herd (22-3, 1-0 Sun Belt) got right to work and made the most of its time on the diamond.
Grace Chelemen recorded the third of three consecutive hits in the top of the first inning, which brought Sydney Bickel around to score the game’s first run. Marshall added to that lead in the second inning when Brooklyn Ulrich singled down the left-field line, scoring Camryn Michallas to double the lead in the top of the second.
App State’s (15-7, 0-1 SBC) first real chance to answer came in the bottom of that frame when three of the first four batters reached to load the bases with one out, but the Herd defense got out of the jam and preserved the lead.
Sydney Nester logged her first strikeout of the day and then fielded a ground ball right back to the circle, flipping it over to Rielly Lucas for the third out to end the inning and keep the home team scoreless. In the fourth inning, App State had two on and two out when Sydney Bickel flashed the glove and snagged a liner out of the air to end the inning and preserve the shutout.
Alex Coleman led off the fifth inning with a single, pilfered a base and then came around to score on a Mountaineers error. Bickel advanced to second on the hit, then tallied on an Autumn Owen single. Owens scored on a double from Bub Feringa to stretch the lead to 5-0 with one out in the fifth inning.
That would spell the end of Kaylie Northrop’s day in the circle, as App State turned to former Herbert Hoover High School product Delani Buckner to get out of the jam. Michallas, another West Virginia prep product, brought the Herd’s run total to six with a sacrifice fly that scored Chelemen.
Autumn Owen put the exclamation point on the win in the series opener with her 13th home run of the season to push the lead to 8-0 with two outs in the top of the sixth inning. The Herd defense held once again, turning a double play after a leadoff walk and ending the game on a groundout to cap the 8-0 win.
Sydney Nester pitched all six innings for the Herd, striking out four while allowing five hits in the shutout performance.
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