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Hope’s Grand Slam Pushes Herd Softball Past Ball State

Bri Anna Hope’s grand slam led an eight-run rally in the sixth to help the Marshall University softball team to an 8-6 victory over Ball State on Sunday afternoon.

Leading off in the bottom of the first Ball State (19-12) tallied one run as Jennifer Gilbert crossed the plate during an Alicia Barkley at-bat.

A quick change in the second saw Marshall (13-17) call up Natalee Pulver in the circle as Erika Bennett exited after 1.2 innings of work and one strikeout.

The Cardinals stretched its lead to 2-0 in the fourth on a squeeze bunt by Allison Mercado that scored pinch runner Hannah Zimmerman, unearned. A spectacular diving catch in left field via Taylor Thompson nabbed Marshall’s second out of the inning as the Herd defense quieted further BSU threats for the frame with a quick putout at first in the next at-bat.

Coming back in the fifth, Ball State loaded the bases and put up two runs on three hits to add insurance to a 4-0 lead heading into the sixth.

Marshall returned the favor in the top of the sixth – scoring Thompson off a Rebecca Gamby double prior to loading the bases that set up Bri Anna Hope for her first career grand slam giving the Herd a come-from-behind 5-4 lead.

Hope finished the day 2-for-4 at the dish with one run scored and four RBI.

With two out lightning and rally caps on, pinch hitter Taylor Winton joined in with a long ball of her own as a three-run bomb to left field scored Ashley Gue and Melissa Loesing to cap the sixth with the Herd ahead 8-4 on seven hits. The Cardinals elected to bring in Audra Sanders to pitch the final 1.2 innings as she came in for the final two outs of the frame.

Loesing went 2-for-2 with one run scored as the Herd got added assistance at the plate from Gue, 1-for-2 and pinch hitter Winton, 1-for-1 and three RBI.

The bottom of the sixth saw MU bring in Rachel Rillo for a brief stint before reentering Bennett as the Herd worked to get out of a two-run showing in the sixth by BSU pitting the seventh at an 8-6 ballgame.

Marshall’s defense held on through the seventh as Pulver picked up the 8-6 win to improve to 6-8 on the season and Bennett tabs her first save with the Herd, while Ball State’s Audrey Workman (6-5) garners the loss in the 5.1 inning seven-strikeout performance.  

Up next for the Herd is a three-game conference series at Houston from April 2 through 3. Friday’s doubleheader starts at 2 p.m. EST.

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