ECU softball splits at Marshall

Published 5:38 pm Sunday, April 26, 2009

By Staff
ECU Sports Information
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Marshall's Rachael Sofie hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the seventh inning to give the Thundering Herd a 2-1 victory in game one but East Carolina responded with a season-high 15 hits to win the second game 8-3. With the victory over the Thundering Herd (27-16, 10-7 C-USA) in game two, the Pirates (37-13, 18-5 C-USA) established the program record for Conference USA wins in a season with their 18th.
Numerous offensive career-highs were set game two for ECU, starting with Jessica Johnson, who hit the 33rd home run of her career, tying her for sixth in Conference USA history. Her two hits in the contest gave her 188 in her career, putting her eighth on the school's career list. Angel Barrella (4), Marina Gusman-Brown (3) and Tiffany Shaw (2) all tied or established career highs in hits during the second game.
In the opener, Marshall starter Katie Murphree, 11-5, held the Pirates in check, allowing just four hits and one run. Toni Paisley, 27-8, suffered the loss, surrendering both runs on seven hits. She also struck out seven.
Autumn Mitchell, 10-5, gave up four runs and eight hits in three-and-a-third innings to take the loss for the Herd in the second game. Brooke Swann, 8-1, picked up the win for ECU as she allowed three runs, two earned, on six hits.
To begin the day's action, neither team put more than one runner on base in the first game until the top of the fourth when Johnson singled to right field with one out and stole second with two down. Marshall intentionally walked Gusman-Brown to bring up Sarah Bibee, who struck out to end the threat.
The Thundering Herd scored its first run to take a 1-0 lead with two outs in the bottom of the fourth as Melanie Stoehr doubled to left center and Kelly Nielson drove in pinch runner Jessica Hughes with a single to center field.
East Carolina got a runner to third with one out in the top of the fifth, but could not convert. Christina Merrida singled to left field to start the inning. Paisley tried to bunt Merrida over to second, but popped up the attempt to the Marshall catcher, Stoehr, who caught the ball for the first out. Stoehr then tried to throw out Merrida heading back to first base but the throw sailed high and into right field, allowing Merrida to advance to second. The Herd right fielder then misplayed the errant throw, letting Merrida get all the way to third. A strikeout and groundout followed to end the inning without Merrida scoring.
Marshall threatened again in the bottom of the fifth, but could not add to its lead. Samantha Spurlock singled and stole second with two outs. Paisley escaped the damage, getting Alianna Telles to fly out to center field.
The Pirates scored their only run in the top of the seventh to tie the game at 1-1. Merrida was hit by a pitch, Paisley had an infield single and Kaui Tom worked a walk, loading the bases with one down. A sacrifice fly by Barrella drove in Merrida for the game-tying run.
In the bottom of the frame, Sofie hit her walk-off homer to center field with one out.
In the bottom of the first inning of game two, the Thundering Herd loaded the bases with two outs, but could not convert. J.J. Bitner singled with down, stole second base and moved to third on a groundout by Cailyn Jackson. Stoehr drew a two-out walk and stole second and Nielson drew another free pass to load the bases. Marcena Bertoldo popped out to Tom at shortstop to end the threat.
Marshall scored one run in the bottom of the second to go up 1-0. Sofie led off with a single, advanced to second on a groundout by Rachel Schmidt and scored on a throwing error by Swann.
ECU responded in the top of the third, taking a 2-1 lead on the Johnson two-run home run.
The Thundering Herd quickly responded, tying the game at 2-2 in the bottom of the third as Bitner singled, stole second and scored on Jackson's single to right field.
In the top of the fourth, the Pirates put the game away with a five-run inning to take a 7-2 lead. Bibee singled, went to second on a groundout by Merrida and scored on a single by Tom. Shaw followed with another single and Barrella walked, loading the bases with one out. After a groundout, Johnson came through again, driving in two runs with a single to center field to take make the ECU lead 5-2. Following a walk to Aona, Gusman-Brown tallied her career-high third hit of the contest, plating the final two runs of the frame.
East Carolina scored its final run for an 8-2 advantage in the top of the fifth when Merrida led off with a single to left field and advanced to second on an error by the left fielder. A passed ball moved her to third and she scored on a single to center field by Shaw.
Marshall scored one run in the bottom of the seventh to make the final score 8-3. Melissa Loesing led off with a single, stole second, advanced to third when Bitner reached on a throwing error by Swann and scored on a wild pitch.
The teams will play the rubber match tomorrow with a single game at 12 p.m.