LEXINGTON, Ky. – Marshall took regional host Kentucky into extra innings before the No. 12 Wildcats won 2-1 on a bases-loaded walkoff hit in the bottom of the eighth.
Marshall (35-21) and Kentucky (39-18) dueled before a crowd of 1,699 at John Cropp Stadium.
Senior Andi Williamson struck out five to put her career mark at 716, closely trailing Sara Gulla’s 727 all-time record. Freshman Kaelynn Greene (2-for-4) and Shaelynn Braxton (2-for-4) came up big in the fourth inning to give the Herd the first lead of the game.
Greene recorded Marshall’s first hit with a bunt single to third base. After moving to second on a sacrifice bunt from senior Ashley Gue (1-for-3), Greene stole third base. A two-out, RBI-single from Braxton put the Herd on the board.
Kentucky tied the game in the bottom of the fifth.
Marshall threatened Kentucky in the top of the sixth after getting runners on second and third on two outs, but the Herd was unable to break the tie.
After shutting down the Wildcats in order, the Herd returned to the plate in the top of the seventh and drew a leadoff walk, but three back-to-back infield pop ups ended the Herd’s chance to score.
Kentucky almost took the game in the bottom of the inning after a one-out shot into deep-center field, but a sacrifice bunt and ground ball to third concluded the seventh.
On one out in the extra-inning, Gue bunt singled to reach base. Senior Jazmine Valle was hit by a pitch for the second time to put Marshall on first and second. After a check swing turned into a close-call out, a great snag by Kentucky’s third baseman snatched the chance for Marshall to take a lead.
The Wildcats hammered a leadoff double off the center-field wall, before back-to-back intentional walks loaded the bases. On the second pitch from Williamson, a walk-off single up the middle ended Marshall’s first appearance in a NCAA regional.
Out of the four Conference USA teams that competed in the first round of NCAA Regionals, the Herd was one of three teams that will not be in the winner’s bracket on Saturday. Tulsa fell 4-2 to Stanford and Houston lost 6-4 to South Carolina. UAB was the only other C-USA team to have a Friday victory with a 6-3 win over UCLA.
The Herd will play at 3:30 p.m. against Notre Dame (43-14), who lost to Virginia Tech 4-3. Should Marshall win, it will face the losing team in the Kentucky-Virginia Tech game.
Marshall hadn’t played an extra-inning game since March 29 against Memphis, when the Herd won 1-0.
Saturday, May 18
Game 3 – Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2 – 1 p.m. ET (ESPN3)
Game 4 – Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2 – 3:30 p.m. ET (ESPN3)
Game 5 – Loser Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4 – 6 p.m. ET (ESPN3)