Herd softball pitches shutout in CUSA Tourney

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. The fourth-seeded Marshall softball team continued to crush the ball in its first round win over No. 8 UTSA, 8-0, in the fifth inning Wednesday at the Conference USA Tournament. Juniors Sierra Huerta and Blakely Burch both hit two-run homers.

The Thundering Herd improved to 37-18 and advance to the second round to face No. 1 North Texas on Thursday. First pitch has been moved up to 9:30 a.m. central, 10:30 a.m. eastern, due to the potential of threatening weather.

The Roadrunners fall to 21-31 and were eliminated.

“I am so proud of our team tonight,” Herd head coach Megan Smith said. “We were stellar in every aspect of the game. Our offense continued to show its power, (Abigail) Tolbert was in control the entire game, and we played solid defense. We are excited to come back out and compete tomorrow.”

It took the offense a few innings, but the Herd made the adjustment with five runs in the fourth inning and then three more in the fifth to close out the game.

Sophomore Aly Harrell led off the inning with a double to right, her second hit of the game, and then senior Samantha Loose was put in to pinch run. Freshman Mya Stevenson dropped a bloop single into shallow left-center that moved Loose to third. Burch ripped a base hit that bounced off the leg of the UTSA pitcher and rolled toward right field, allowing both Loose and Stevenson to score. Sophomore Rachel Rouseau drove in Burch with a double.

The inning continued after a pitching change when Huerta belted a two-run homer for the final two runs in the fourth. It was Huerta’s eighth of the year.

After a 1-2-3 inning for the Marshall defense, the Herd closed out the run-rule win in the fifth. Stevenson got on base first with a one-out single. Next, Burch sent a laser shot over the fence in center for her eighth home run of the season and Marshall led 7-0. Rousseau reached on an error, and after another pitching change, Rousseau stole second. A ground out pushed Rousseau to third and two batters later sophomore Katie Adams hit a single up the middle that scored Rousseau to end the game.

Senior pitcher Abigail Tolbert went the distance and allowed just three hits and struck out two in the shutout.

Burch finished the game with four RBI and senior Hayden Ellis set a career-high with three walks in the contest.