BOCA RATON, Fla. – The East Carolina softball team erased a six-run, first-inning deficit, but was defeated, 8-7, by Marshall in the Conference USA Championship semifinals on Friday afternoon at the FAU Softball Stadium.
Senior Shelby Johnson went 4-for-5 with two runs scored and two stolen bases, while senior Jill Jelnick had three hits with one run and one RBI. Senior Jasmine Robbins added two hits and drove in a run, as senior Kristi Oshiro had three RBI.
Marshall (28-30, 13-11 C-USA) began the day with an offensive flurry in its first at-bats of the day, which were sparked by three wild pitches, a pitching change, a dropped fly ball and six hits that created an early 6-0 lead over the Pirates.
East Carolina (28-20, 14-10 C-USA) cut into the Thundering Herd’s lead in the bottom half of the frame when it loaded the bases after a pair of one-out singles by Johnson and Abby Wynne, and Oshiro was hit by a pitch. Alex Fieldhouse followed up with a sacrifice fly to deep right-centerfield to get ECU on the scoreboard and cut the deficit to five.
After a Jordan Lewis walk loaded the bases once more, Jelnick stepped in and drew a walk to reduce Marshall’s lead to 6-2 before a 42-minute first inning came to an end.
The Thundering Herd tacked on a run with an RBI groundout in the top of the fourth, but the Pirates were able to load the bases in the bottom of the inning and score a run on a wild pitch to bring the game back within four runs.
With one out in the bottom of the fifth, ECU’s offense came to life as Jelnick hit a one-out single and Alcorn walked to jump-start an explosive rally. Robbins laced an RBI single into right, scoring Jelnick, and Chelsea Kaluhiokalani-Glackin reached on an infield single to load the bases.
Johnson was next up and reached on a fielder’s choice that forced out Alcorn at home, but Oshiro came up huge when she drove a 1-1 pitch off the right-centerfield fence for a three-run double to tie the game, 7-7.
Both teams left two runners on base during their respective scoring threats in the seventh inning, as the game moved to extra innings. Marshall pulled ahead on a one-out RBI single with the bases loaded to take back the lead, 8-7, before holding on in the bottom of the eighth and advance to Saturday’s championship.
Junior Sarah Christian (17-10) pitched eight innings of relief and allowed six runs (four earned) on two walks and struck out two.