In freezing 27 degree temperatures the Marshall University softball team outlasted Kent State in a marathon four-and-a-half hour 17-16 victory on Sunday afternoon. The Herd will head to Ohio to face the Bobcats on Tuesday in a twin bill that is slated to start at 1 p.m. EST.
“I have never been a part of a game like this in my life as a player or coach,” said head coach Shonda Stanton. “I am so glad to end up on the winning side of it. Our players showed a lot of fight and resiliency. We had ample opportunities to end the game – stranding 16 runners but I am pleased we found a way to win.”
The Thundering Herd evens its record at 9-9 with the win that featured 16 hits and two homers on the confines of Dot Hicks Field while Kent State dropped to 6-11 with the loss.
In the opening frame the Golden Flashes flashed a triplet of runs on the scoreboard to open the final game of the Marshall Invitational. A RBI single from Jessica Carmichael plated leadoff hitter Lauren Grimes starting the game at 1-0. An additional two runs were tacked on after Beth Cinadr’s single to right brought around Alex Marcantonio and Carmichael.
Jazmine Valle would have none of it, evening it up in the bottom of the frame at 3-3 with a three-run bomb that laced over the center field fence to plate Taylor Thompson and Amanda Lara who reached on back-to-back walks. Valle finished the game with a team-best six RBI, going 3-for-5 at the dish with two runs scored.
During the 54 minute first inning, a delay to fix the pitching circle saw both teams keep spirits high in an impromptu dance fest which followed with Kent State making a change in the circle calling up Danielle Abernathy for relief of Lauren McNeil, who left after 0.1 innings of work.
Both teams continued to battle through the freezing weather as KSU scored five runs off two hits in the second to take an 8-3 lead.
Rebecca Gamby homered in the bottom of the third for her fourth long ball of the season and 15th of her career pulling Marshall within four at 8-4. KSU would tally a solo run of its own in the top of the fourth as Carmichael homered to left field resulting in a Herd pitching change that saw Erika Bennett to the circle in relief of Natalee Pulver.
Pulver struck out two in 3.1 innings while Bennett would hold Marshall in the game with 5.1 innings of work and a club-best seven strikeouts.
Never giving up MU closed the gap at 9-7 in the fifth when Thompson’s RBI single to center plated Ashley Gue. In the next at-bat Bri Anna Hope registered an RBI with the same hit to score Alysia Hively. The third run of the inning came via Samantha Spurlock scoring in a Valle at-bat.
Hope had one of her best lines on the year, hitting 3-for-4 with three RBI and two runs scored – including the eventual game-winning 17th run in the ninth inning.
“Bri Anna had a solid day at the plate and Jazmine came up big with six RBI,” said Stanton. “Offensively we were able to get the timely hit with two outs in the final inning, which is what we lacked in regulation.”
Working from behind in the sixth Hively would score her second run on the day, unearned, after coming home on a KSU passed ball to make it 9-8. The Golden flashes made it a two run cushion in the seventh as Abbey Ledford’s single through the right side pushed around Sarah Starr to make it 10-8.
The Herd made it interesting when it knotted it up at 10-10 in the bottom of the seventh as bases were loaded and Thompson walked home followed by Hope reaching the plate, unearned, on a passed ball.
Going into extra innings the game was played under International Tiebreak rules, the second time the Herd would have to go to extras to outlast the Golden Flashes this weekend.
“Today was a long and difficult day. This is a testament of our team and our will to win,” Stanton said.
With neither team scoring in the eighth it seemed the day would drag on even longer for the clubs as both pitching staffs burned through a plethora of athletes. KSU used three in the game with Markie Pozzuto (3-3) going down for the loss after coming in during the bottom of the fifth.
MU used three pitchers to close out the top of the ninth, with Bennett, Rachel Rillo and Jessica Ferrick making appearances as Kent was able to take a 16-10 lead with six runs scoring on four hits in the frame.
Never surrendering as they worked from behind, the MU club collectively put on its rally caps to surmount an impressive seven runs in the bottom of the ninth to outdo KSU’s six and garner Ferrick her first win of the season and career second.
Valle would first come home on a Gamby single up the middle with Gamby following quickly behind on the same play courtesy of a Golden Flash error to make it 16-12. Two outs later an RBI-single from Spurlock plated Stoehr to set up Hope for a two-RBI double that scored Spurlock and Alianna Telles and put the winning run on base.
In her eighth at-bat of the game and second of the inning Valle slugged a two-RBI single to left that brought home Thompson and the winning-run in Hope to give Marshall a 17-16 victory. Thompson finished the contest with a team-best three runs scored.
Marshall softball travels to Athens, Ohio on Tuesday, March 8, to play a doubleheader against Ohio which is slated to begin at 1 p.m.