BOCA RATON, Fla.— The Herd is headed to it its third consecutive Conference USA Tournament Championship Game after coming back to beat sixth seeded East Carolina 8-7 in extra innings.
In the top of the eighth inning, Raquel Escareno singled through the left side of of the infield, scoring Savannah Webster and sending Marshall to the title game.
“Man, I thought I was proud of my team yesterday, we could not be any more proud. What a collective team win,” said coach Shonda Stanton as her team will look to defend its conference title.
Marshall upset No. 2 UAB in the opening round of the tournament on Thursday and broke out the bats early in its semifinal matchup with East Carolina. The Herd plated six runs in the top of the first inning highlighted by a two-run homerun off the bat of Shaelynn Braxton. Braxton ended the day 3-for-4 with three runs driven in.
“We came out and set the tone. We put up a six spot,” said Stanton.
But East Carolina chipped away at the Thundering Herd lead. The Pirates plated two runs in the bottom of the first and another run in the fourth.
East Carolina tied the game in the bottom of the fifth. With one run already in, the Pirates loaded the bases with one out. Kristi Oshiro laced a bases clearing double that tied the game at 7-7.
“East Carolina has seven seniors and all seven are in the line up. We have two seniors and we told them it would be a battle,” admitted Stanton. “We just continued to fight and scrap and you could feel the game, the momentum changes, the switches. They knotted it up 7-7 and we continued to battle.”
The Herd loaded the bases in the top of the eight and Escareno drove in the what would be the game winning run.
2014 was supposed to be a rebuilding year for the The Herd, graduating several seniors from last year’s team including ace Andi Williamson.
“No one expected us to be here, graduation so many seniors,” said Savannah Webster. “We didn’t start the way we wanted to but we’re stating to finish the way we want to.”
Marshall will take on top-seeded Tulsa in Saturday’s championship game. WMUL-FM will provide free live audio coverage of the title game.