Herd sweeps Charlotte
Marshall hits 3 homers
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – The Marshall softball team pulled out another exciting victory over the Charlotte 49ers, 4-3, on Sunday at Dot Hicks Field to sweep the series. The Herd belted three more home runs and redshirt junior Sydney Nester earned her 15th win of the season.
The Thundering Herd improved to 22-9 overall and 6-3 in Conference USA action. The 49ers fall to 22-14 overall and 4-8 in league play.
Marshall had to battle from behind yet again showing its grit, heart and fight to come through with the sweep. The game began to appear like another high-scoring shootout, until both teams settled down in the circle and on defense to become a pitching duel to the finish.
Charlotte jumped out to the 1-0 lead in the first inning. The 49ers hit a home run in the first inning of all three games. Marshall put two runners on base in the bottom of the first, but couldn’t drive anyone home trailing 1-0.
The 49ers threatened in the second loading the bases with two outs. Nester got the next batter to line out to senior Grace Chelemen in right-center to strand all three on base.
In the bottom of the second, fifth-year senior Madison Whitaker led off hustling out an infield single. Fellow fifth-year senior Katie Adams stepped up next and drilled the second pitch of the at bat over the fence in center for a two-run shot. Marshall took the lead on Adams’ fifth homer of the year and 12th of her career.
Charlotte scored two more runs in the top of the third to regain the lead, 3-2. A flyout to freshman Lauren Love in left-center ended the inning and stranded one runner on base.
The Herd returned fire in the bottom of the third with two more shots leaving the park. Fifth-year senior Saige Pye belted her third home run of the weekend off the old warehouse in left for a solo homer to lead off the inning tying the game at 3-3. It was Pye’s 11th home run of the season and 26th of her career. The solo shot was her 25th as a member of the Herd putting Pye into a tie with former teammate Sierra Huerta (2019-21) for 11th all-time in team history.
After Pye’s bomb off the building, Charlotte made a change in the circle as Madelyn Wright was pulled for Lindsey Walljasper. Two batters later, sophomore Autumn Owen barreled one up and sent it flying for the parking lot in right-center. The ball bounced off the roof of two vehicles and rolled into third avenue. It was Owen’s second home run of the series, fourth of the year and 21st of her collegiate career. The solo homer gave Marshall the lead 4-3.
From there the game went away from the slugfest and featured clutch pitches and defensive plays from both sides.
In the top of the fourth, Charlotte had a runner on board with two outs. Fifth-year senior shortstop Armani Brown fielded a hard hit grounder from Bailey Vannoy and fired to first for the third out. The Herd retired the side in the fifth, as Nester struck out the first batter followed by great plays from Brown and Owen to finish the inning.
The 49ers put a runner on base in the top of the sixth with two away. Nester got the next batter to pop one up just to the left of home plate as Adams made the catch to end the inning. Marshall was unable to add any more runs in the bottom of the sixth and went to the top of the seventh with a one-run lead, and the top hitters coming to the plate for Charlotte.
The first batter was Stacy Payton, who hit the home run in the first inning. Payton sent a hard grounder to third on the first pitch that was scooped up by Owen, who then fired across the diamond to fifth-year senior Aly Harrell at first for the out. Next up was Vannoy who worked to a full count, and then Nester sent her back to the dugout on a strikeout. Finally, Walljasper stepped up as the 49ers were down to its final out. On the fifth pitch of the at bat, Walljasper popped up in the infield and Harrell made the catch for the final out.
After being swept in its first league series of the season at UAB, Marshall has swept its last two opponents in Middle Tennessee and Charlotte. The last time Marshall swept back-to-back C-USA series was in 2019 against Middle Tennessee and Florida Atlantic to finish the regular season.
The Herd remains unbeaten at home this year with a 14-0 record. Going back to last season, Marshall has won 16 games in-a-row at Dot Hicks Field. That is now the second-longest home winning streak in team history, surpassing 15-straight from the end of 2016 into the 2017 season. The program record for the longest home winning streak is 22 which started on April 18, 2012 and lasted through April 10, 2013.
Nester went the distance in the circle for the 17th time in 19 starts. She scattered six hits and struck out four. Nester now has 187 strikeouts this season and a 1.67 ERA.
Offensively, Marshall collected seven hits. Pye had two hits. Adams had two RBI for the second-straight game. Harrell had one hit but was also hit by a pitch twice, coming in her first two plate appearances. It was the ninth time of Harrell’s career that she has been plunked at least twice in a single game. Harrell now has 156 career walks and 45 hit-by-pitches for a combined total of 201 career free passes.
Chelemen, Owen, and Whitaker had one hit each.
On defense, Owen recorded five assists and one putout. Whitaker had two assists at second base and Brown tallied three at short.
Marshall heads back out on the road for its next seven games. First up is a doubleheader at Radford on Tuesday, April 5. The Herd gets back into conference action at Florida Atlantic, April 8-10, and then will have another midweek doubleheader at Northern Kentucky (April 12) before finally returning to Dot Hicks Field for a series with the FIU Panthers, April 14-16. The series versus FIU will be Alumni Weekend for Marshall softball and April 16th is scheduled to be Emileigh Cooper Day.
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