BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The No. 4 seed Marshall softball team fought to the end but ultimately fell to No. 2 seed Louisiana Tech, 3-1, Saturday in the Conference USA Championship game at Mary Bowers Field. Senior Abigail Tolbert, sophomore Aly Harrell and freshman Mya Stevenson were named to the All-Tournament team.
Marshall finishes up with a record of 39-20. The 39 wins are the third highest total in a season in program history. First year head coach Megan Smith and her staff of assistant coaches Corey Lyon and Maddie Holub led the Herd from a predicted eighth place finish in the preseason polls, to the doorstep of an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
“I’m really proud of our team,” coach Smith said. “I have been so proud of them all week here at the conference tournament. Abbie Tolbert pitched really well today but unfortunately our bats didn’t get it done. I told the girls we’re not going to let one game affect our feelings on this season. We had a great season and I am proud of everyone on the team.
“We showed a lot of offensive power breaking the (team) home run record, our pitchers did extremely well, our defense improved and I just couldn’t be any prouder to be the coach of these 20 young women.
“I told the team that I have coached at the college level for 20 years and this was the most fun I have ever had. They are a great group of girls. Great people who have high character and they fight for each other and they fight for Marshall and that’s all we can ask of them.
“Now we will wait and see we may have some postseason opportunities next week and if we do we will be excited to go out and compete for Marshall again.”
Tolbert went the distance again in the circle for Marshall, her 25th complete game of the season, allowed six hits, three runs and struck out two. The senior finished the year with 26 wins, fourth best in program history in a single season.
Senior Hayden Ellis recorded two of the Herd’s three hits in the contest with a single and her ninth double of the season.
Stevenson got Marshall on the board in the fourth with her 18th home run of the year. The freshman tied the Herd’s single-season record for home runs set by Rachel Folden (2005-08) in 2006. It was also Marshall’s 75 home run of the year, smashing the old record of 52 set in 2008.
The Herd fell behind 2-0 after the third inning before Stevenson crushed the first pitch she saw to lead off the top of the fourth. The Lady Techsters scored one more run in the bottom of the fourth to extend the lead back to two, 3-1.
Tolbert and the Marshall defense made the plays they needed throughout the rest of the contest but the Herd offense could not find the timely hit.