Herd outmatched at Carolina Classic, drops four games


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Marshall softball traveled to South Carolina this past weekend for the Carolina Classic—a five-game tournament in which the Herd went 1-4—and is now 8-12 on the season.

South Carolina competed as host institution, while Liberty and George Washington joined Marshall as visiting schools. The Herd played two contests on day one of the tournament, splitting the day with a 2-0 win over George Washington and a 6-1 loss to Liberty.

“We didn’t have the timely hit today, but we were able to manufacture runs,” Marshall head coach Jen Steele said after the George Washington game. “Our defense did a great job playing relaxed and making routine plays.”

Junior pitcher Abigail Tolbert started on the mound for the Herd against George Washington. Tolbert pitched a complete game (seven innings) and allowed two hits while recording four strikeouts.

In game two, sophomore Kailee Williamson was starting pitcher against the Liberty Flames. She pitched 2 1/3 innings and allowed four earned runs before yielding to junior relief pitcher Ali Burdette, who entered the game in the third and closed out the remaining 4 1/2 innings.

Williamson held Liberty to a single run through the first two innings. In the third, though, the Flames scored four more and jumped out to a 5-0 lead. Then, Steele said, the Herd couldn’t drive baserunners in.

“We got seven hits, but stranded too many baserunners,” Steele said. “Once we fell behind early, we didn’t do a good job of maximizing our chances. We had tons of baserunners in scoring position but didn’t capitalize.”

In day two of play, Marshall faced off against the No. 20 South Carolina Gamecocks. The Gamecocks took a four-run lead in the first two innings and, despite two Marshall runs late in the game, yielded the 5-2 victory.

Steele said she still saw improvements.

“We did a much better job executing with runners in scoring position,” Steele said. “We matched them hit-for-hit, for the most part, and we hit so many balls hard, just right at people.”

Tolbert took the mound again for the Herd and pitched a complete game (six innings). She gave up seven hits and four earned runs with three walks and three strikeouts.

After being held to one hit through the first four innings, Herd senior Madi Marshall hit a double to right-center field in the top of the fifth inning. Then, freshman Samantha Koehn drove her home to put the Herd on the board.

The Herd finished the Carolina Classic on day three, with a rematch doubleheader against Liberty and South Carolina. In the first matchup, the Flames edged the Herd 4-3 and, in game two, South Carolina routed the Herd 11-3.

“It’s really tough to tell how well we played if you look at the box scores,” Steele said. “We hit a lot of balls hard this weekend and played good defense during big stretches of time. The South Carolina game got away from us and that was the first time that happened this season.”

Marshall opens up Conference USA play March 10-11 at UAB, and Steele said she is looking forward to the games after the progress the team has made.

“The results haven’t come just yet, but the progress has been significant,” Steele said. “We are looking forward to having the week to prepare for UAB as we open C-USA play.”

Courtney Andrews can be contacted at [email protected]

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