Marshall Upends Softball in Series Finale
May 6, 2007
HOUSTON - Marshall used a trio of home runs from Rachel Folden and Samantha Rodriguez en route to a 5-2 victory over the University of Houston softball team Sunday afternoon in the series finale of a Conference USA weekend series at the Cougar Softball Stadium.
"Marshall played extremely fired up and fed off their leaders," head coach Kyla Holas said. "My biggest concern on our side is that we left 10 runners on-base. We've done a good job in conference play of finishing runners. We'll work hard at practice this week as we prepare for the conference tournament."
Houston (39-16, 20-4 C-USA) hurler Angel Shamblin was touched up for a season-high five earned runs on five hits and dropped to 26-7 on the season. The setback was Shamblin's first in conference play and snapped s stretch of 17 consecutive regular season conference wins dating back to last season.
Amanda Luers earned the win for Marshall and improved to 12-5. The senior right-hander scattered eight hits and allowed two runs, while Abigail Harter tallied her first save of the season after recording the game's final two outs.
Folden put Marshall (31-24, 11-13 C-USA) on the board with the first of her two solo home runs on the game's first pitch.
The Cougars put together a rally in the fourth inning as Laura Durham and Angel Shamblin opened the frame on a single and a fielder's choice. After a Laurie Wagner sacrifice bunt moved the runners into scoring position, Amanda Grote provided the equalizer with a RBI-single to left field.
Christa Raley received an intentional walk to load the bases, but pinch hitter Samantha Cummings fouled out to Folden to end the treat and keep the score even at 1-1.
The Thundering Herd responded with back-to-back walks to open the fifth inning. On a 2-2 pitch, Samantha Rodriguez cranked a three-run homer that stayed just inside the foul poll down the left field line to give the Herd a 4-1 advantage.
Houston charged back in the bottom of the frame as Elaina Nordstrom knocked a leadoff double into the left centerfield gap. Haley Valis added a single and Laura Durham reached on a Marshall fielding error to load the bases before a one-out Wagner walk drew the Cougars within 4-2.
Amanda Grote's high chopper was fielded by an outstretch Luers just off the pitching circle, who alertly tossed the ball to Folden to force Valis out at the plate. The Herd attempted to turn a double play, but Grote beat out the throw at first base. Durham attempted to score from second base on the play, but Marshall first baseman Gina Guzzo fired a bullet to Folden at the plate to keep the score at 4-2.
Folden added another solo shot in the seventh inning to push the Herd ahead 5-2.
Houston fought back in the home half of the seventh as Nordstrom and Durham knocked singles to put runners on the corners with one out. Shamblin grounded out to Marshall shortstop Marcena Bertoldo, who flipped the ball to Kristina Knect covering second base for the force of Durham. After Shamblin beat out the turn at first base, pinch runner Lara Lang was thrown out at the plate trying to score from third base.
"We tell our baserunners early in the game to be more aggressive," Holas said. "However, late in the game we need to be a little more conservative. There's no reason why we should have ran ourselves out of two innings. We need to let our hitters hit. Give Marshall credit because they made the plays on defense to win the game."
Houston returns to the diamond as the No. 1 seed in the upcoming Conference USA Championship presented by Coca-Cola on the UCF campus. The Cougars will face the winner of the UCF-Marshall game Thursday at 6:30pm. A live radio webcast in addition to live stats via GameTracker will be available on UHCougars.com for all tournament games.
"We need to respond after this type of a game," Holas said. "Our team needs to refocus and prepare for the tournament. We'll watch what happens between UCF and Marshall and go from there."