April 4, 2012

Softball quietly making a strong conference run

Quietly, and mostly away from home, Marshall's softball team has put together a season that has the Herd in contention for the Conference USA championship.

Marshall sits at 8-4 in league play after sweeping UTEP in El Paso last weekend. Herd pitcher Andi Williamson shutout the Miners in the third game of the series, the first time UTEP had been shutout at Helen of Troy Stadium this season. Alianna Telles had a string of six consecutive hits, and was named C-USA Hitter of the week.

The Sunday win was the 400th victory in coach Shonda Stanton's career.

While Marshall sits fourth in the league standings, the Herd has already played two teams stand above it. That means that if Marshall can take care of business against the bottom of the league, it can be a serious contender for the crown.

The Herd has gone 6-0 against Memphis and UTEP on the road, and must continue its dominance away from Dot Hicks Field to stay in the thick of the league chase. Marshall will face Southern Miss in Hattiesburg this weekend.

The Golden Eagles are 3-9 in conference play, and lost two of three to both UTEP and Memphis. Southern Miss is 11-20 overall on the season.

Meanwhile the Herd offense has been lifted by the recent hot bat of Telles, who is hitting .320 with three homers, 14 RBI and 10 doubles. Alysia Hively's return from injury gives Marshall another strong bat in the lineup. Hively is hitting .338 with two homers and 12 RBI.

Jazmine Valle and Rebecca Gamby have provided the pop in the lineup. Valle has six homers and 24 RBI, both team highs, while Gamby has four homers and 18 RBI. Bri Anna Hope has an efficient 15 RBI in 88 at-bats while returning from injury.

In the circle, Williamson has been fantastic of late. The junior from Harts, W.Va. is 14-8 with a 1.79 ERA. The hard-throwing right-hander has 162 strikeouts in 125 innings pitched. Opponents are hitting just .182 against the Chapmanville Regional graduate, who pitched the Lady Tigers to a pair of state championships.

Marshall continues to be aggressive on the base paths. Ashley Gue has 22 steals in 23 attempts. Taylor Thompson is 20-23 in the category while Jessica Hughes has 15 swipes and Melissa Loesing, whose.345 average leads the team, has added 10 steals. Marshall has an eye-popping 91 steals as a team.

To sum it up, Marshall's getting good contribution from its strong hitters as well as key numbers from the speedsters. Marshall's versatility allows the Herd to pinch run often and remain aggressive on the base paths. That consistency could help Marshall make a late push and means the Herd will be a team to keep an eye on down as we cross the midway point in conference action.

Ryan Epling is an analyst with Herd Nation. Comments and questions are welcomed and encouraged on the Old Fairfield forum.

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