Box Score (PDF)
BOCA RATON, Fla. – The Marshall softball team came from behind yet again to take game one at Florida Atlantic, 7-2, in eight innings Friday night. Senior Mya Stevenson hit two home runs and fifth-year senior Saige Pye had one.
The Thundering Herd improved to 23-9 overall and 7-3 in Conference USA play. The Owls fall to 20-19 overall and 8-5 in league action. Game two is set for Saturday at 1 pm The contest will be streamed on CUSAtv and also broadcast on 88.1 WMUL-FM with audio streamed online at www.marshall.edu/wmul with Scott Hall on the call.
Redshirt junior Sydney Nester earned her 16th win of the year. She pitched all eight innings, allowed four hits, two runs and struck out 15 to tie her career-high. It was Nester’s ninth double-digit strikeout performance of the year, tied for the third most in a single season in team history. The program record is 12 by Andi Williamson (2011-13) in 2013.
Nester also tallied her 200th strikeout of the season, reaching the mark in just her 26th outing of the year as well as 137 innings pitched, becoming the fastest in team history to 200. In 2013, Williamson recorded her 200th strikeout in her 29th outing and Jordan Dixon got to 200 in her 30th appearance in 2015.
The game started as a pitching duel between Nester and Lynn Gardner for Florida Atlantic. Through the first three innings there had only been four total base runners and zero hits. Pye tallied the first hit for either team in the top of the fourth with a double to right-center. Redshirt freshman Amaya Lee came in to run for Pye but was stranded at third.
The Owls finally recorded a base hit in the bottom of the fourth, but Nester tallied her sixth strikeout of the game to end the inning. Nester struck out the side in the fifth to keep the game scoreless and bring her number to nine in the game.
Florida Atlantic finally broke through the scoreless affair at the bottom of the sixth recording three hits and driving in two runs. Nester recorded all three outs by the strikeout but not before the Owls took the 2-0 lead.
Down to its final three outs, and just one hit on the board, Pye led off the top of the seventh. On a 1-1 count, the fifth-year senior hammered a ball over the fence at right-center. The solo shot put Marshall on the board and was Pye’s 12th home run of the season. Then Stevenson stepped up next and, also on a 1-1 count, sent a laser line drive over the fence in left-center. It was the first time this season that Marshall hit back-to-back homers and the game was now tied at 2-2. But the Herd bats were not done.
The Marshall defense went back out for the bottom of the seventh and held FAU off the scoreboard. A flyout to senior Grace Chelemen in right center followed by a pop up that was run down and caught by Nester retired the first two batters. Nester struck out the next batter to retire the side and record her 200th strikeout of the year. The game was headed for extra innings for the fourth time in the history of the series.
In the top of the eighth, fifth-year senior Armani Brown got things started with a one-out walk. Then fellow classmate Aly Harrell delivered a single to right-center. Chelemen pushed out a bunt to the right side of the circle that caused some miscommunication in the infield. Chelemen was safe at first and Brown scored from second to give Marshall the lead. Pye drove in Harrell with a double to left to give the Herd a 2-run lead, 4-2, with two runners on base. Stevenson came to the plate and attacked the first pitch and belted a shot well beyond the fence in left. The 3-run homer gave Marshall a 7-2 lead.
In the bottom of the eighth, Brown caught a pop out to short sandwiched in between two more Nester strikeouts to end the game and get the win.
It was Marshall’s fourth-straight comeback victory and seventh C-USA win in-a-row. The Herd is now 3-1 in extra-inning games against Florida Atlantic in the all-time series.
Pye finished with three hits to lead the Herd. Her home run in the seventh was the 27th of her collegiate career and the 26th in her time at Marshall. Pye is now tied for 10th in program history with Briana Daiss (2016-19). Pye has also reached base safely in 76 of the 82 games that she has played for the Green & White.
Stevenson smashed two home runs in a single game for the sixth time in her career and the second this season. She also hit two bombs in game three at UAB. Stevenson now has 14 homers this season and 54 in her career. She is four away from typing Rachel Folden (2003-06) for the Marshall home run record. Eight of Stevenson’s 14 homers this year have come in C-USA action. She also leads the team with 37 RBI, one more than Pye, and is slugging .936 for the year.
Harrell’s hit in the eighth was the 204th of her career, putting her into a tie with Hall of Famer Nicole Corrigan (1999-2002) for 10th all-time at Marshall. Harrell has recorded a hit in 135 games and reached base safely in 180 of her 199 career games played.
At third base, sophomore Autumn Owen tallied four more assists.
For all of the latest information on the Marshall Softball team, follow the Herd on Twitter @HerdsBFacebook at Marshall University Softball and on www.herdzone.com.