Marshall softball’s record-breaking season comes to an end

Marshall softball went 42-22 this past year in the most games ever played in one season. This was a jump start to a career at Marshall for head coach Megan Smith. 

 “Our players are blue collar workers who play with a chip on their shoulder,” Smith said. “Our team had to fight for every win.”

After the regular season came to an end, Marshall was in fourth place headed into the Conference USA tournament. Despite the Herd’s early wins during the tournament vs. UTSA and North Texas, they dropped a game vs Louisiana Tech, but later took North Texas again, sending them to the championship game vs Louisiana Tech. The Herd fell 3-1. 

“I am so proud of how our team made the choice to work hard, trust the process and fight for everything that we earned,” Smith said.  “There were several instances that our team could have taken the easy way out and given up on working to be great, but they dug deep and kept pushing to be successful.”

Despite being runner-up in C-USA, the Herd was given a bid to play in the NISC Lynchburg. In the NISC the team went 3-2. This was the first time the Herd had ever played in the NISC.  The team lost the first game of the tournament to George Washington but was able to beat Rutgers, George Washington and Kent State. These wins helped send them to the championship regional game vs. Liberty University. 

“The NISC tournament was a great experience,” Smith said. “Being able to qualify and having our administration support us participating was huge for our program.  We were able to play great competition and our players who didn’t play or have never participated in the NCAA tournament got a chance to experience that atmosphere.”

Smith (435-287) came to the Herd in July after leaving Kansas (Big 12 Conference) where she led the Jayhawks for the last nine years. 

As far as personal goals, Smith said she wanted to see her team improve every single day. 

“We played a lot of young players and players who didn’t have a lot of successful game experience,” Smith said. “I wanted to see them grow and improve throughout the year.  Seeing their progression was the most rewarding part of the season for me.”

Offensively, the Herd had several members to break individual season records. 

Freshman outfielder Mya Stevenson ended the season with five new records. 

“She (Stevenson) is a tough competitor,” Smith said. “It is amazing what she was able to accomplish as a freshman. I told her before the season started that she has a chance to be one of the best to ever play at Marshall and she certainly started off her career showing she can do that.”

Sophomore first baseman Aly Harrell ended the season with eight new records compared to the she broke three the previous year. 

“At the beginning of the season, most teams wouldn’t give Aly pitches to hit,” Smith said. “Instead of getting frustrated or anxious and getting herself out, she was poised and disciplined and ended up breaking our season walk record.”

Junior third baseman Blakely Burch broke several records and is tied for tenth for runs scored.

Freshman outfielder Rachel Pennington added her name to the stolen base percentage record book with .917 putting her tied for 10th place. 

Sophomore infielder Armani Brown is now tied for sixth place with 191 at bats during a single season. 

Senior, pitcher Abigail Tolbert ended her Marshall softball career in fourth place for most wins in a single season leading her team to 28 wins. 

“She (Tolbert) went from never pitching two years ago, to leading our team to record-breaking season,” Smith said. “She put in the work in the fall and pre-season and she was determined to be successful this season.  She was a fighter in the circle and always gave her all for her team in any situation.”

Harrell and Stevenson both made C-USA First Team along with Tolbert and Ellis who made C-USA Second Team. Stevenson was also on the C-USA Freshman Team. Tolbert, Harrell and Stevenson were a part of the All-Tournament Team for Conference USA. Kailee Williamson was named to the Academic All-Conference team. Tolbert, Harrell, and Huerta were all three named to the NISC Regional All-Tournament Team. 

Sydney Shelton can be contacted at [email protected]