Late Rallies Aide Knights in Two Wins Over Softball

HNN Staff
ORLANDO – Marshall softball was unable to hold on to its early leads as key hitting by the UCF Knights led to a pair of losses, 5-4, 6-5, on Saturday at UCF Softball Complex.
Natalee Pulver garnered the Herd’s first loss of the series as UCF had an answer to Marshall’s two runs in the top of the seventh with two runs of its own in the bottom to take a 5-4 win from MU. In game one, both Alysia Hively and Taylor Thompson went 1-for-2 at the dish with one run scored.

Saturday’s second game of the twin bill was knotted at 5-5 through seven complete innings, pushing the matchup into extra innings. Marshall fell 6-5 in eight innings as the Knights capitalized on 11 hits and three Herd errors.

Game One: UCF 5, Marshall 4
A quick two outs in the first frame did not stop the Thundering Herd (15-26, 1-12 C-USA) from chalking up a pair of runs as a triple roped to left by Hively scored Ashley Gue from second, followed by a single through the left side by Jazmine Valle plated Hively.


The Knights (17-24, 7-7 C-USA) were able to score Allie Jest on a MU passed ball to cut the lead in half at 2-1 but UCF continued to draw three-consecutive walks to load the bases on two outs. Marshall brought in Pulver from the bullpen as Andi Williamson left the game after six batters faced.

Pulver wasted no time getting the Herd out of the jam, retiring the next batter with a strikeout looking to keep the Knights off the board and allow MU to hold on to its 2-1 lead heading out of the first stanza.

The score teeter-tottered in favor of Central Florida in the third after a RBI-single to left by Marissa Menendez brought around Vanessa Perez, who reached via walk two batters earlier. Natalie Land stole home later in the inning to push the Knights ahead 3-2.

Diana Rojas retired the side in the fourth, in the first frame the Herd was unable to record a hit in the game. Rojas (7-9) went the distance in the win allowing eight Marshall hits and striking out one batter along the way.

Pulver held the opposition scoreless for the remainder her time in the circle but it would not be enough as the damage in the third and eventually a late rally in the seventh was all the Knights needed to escape with a 5-4 victory. The freshman drops to 7-13 after the 5.1 inning, three-strikeout performance.  

Under pressure in the seventh with two outs, Marshall strapped on its rally caps to flash up two runs and claim a come-from-behind 4-3 advantage. The herd offense was awakened after Melanie Stoehr reached by virtue of a walk – her courtesy runner Amanda Lara moved to second after a wild pitch then scored during a Bri Anna Hope at-bat. Hope crossed home, unearned, on a RBI-double to left center by Alianna Telles.

Back-to-back singles from the Knights and a sacrifice bunt from Perez put runners on second and third forcing Marshall to call up Erika Bennett to the circle. Tiffany Lane then tied the game at 4-4 when she scampered home on a wild pitch.

MU returned to its starter Williamson who intentionally walked Land and Menendez to load the bases leading up to Kellie Todd. A well-placed bunt from Todd scored Jest as the Knights ran away with the 5-4 win in the final frame comeback. Both runs in the seventh were credited to Pulver.

Game Two: UCF 6, Marshall 5
Hits a plenty set the tone in the first as Telles led off reaching on a walk, followed by a single from Gue and Rebecca Gamby. Hively launched a deep shot to left center that tipped the top of the fence but fell back into the playing field, robbing her of a grand slam but good enough for a two-RBI bomb that scored pinch runner Morgan Cottrell and Gue.

The Knights brought in Ashley Schmitt to silence the Marshall bats, who started at designated player but moved to the circle as Lacey Dinney left the game after facing four Herd batters.

Marshall lit up the board for two additional runs in the first to take a 4-0 lead when a single to left by Valle plated pinch runner Brittney Ybarra, who was on base courtesy of Gamby. Also scoring during the sequence was pinch runner Melissa Loesing following a UCF miscue.

Central Florida battled back in the bottom of the third with three runs on three hits beginning with a Perez single to center scoring Lane. Haley Douglas came up big with a double to center that plated Jest and Perez to close the gap at 4-3 heading into the fourth.

Pulver made her second appearance on the day in relief, replacing Williamson in the third.

Staying true to the two-out rally, Gue converted another run in the fourth for a two-run cushion at 5-3. In a display of Marshall’s speed a deep shot to right center scored Jessica Hughes from second as Gue safely chugged to third for her first career triple.

Unable to hold on to the Herd lead, UCF produced a pair of runs in the sixth when Jest’s single to right that scored Lane made it a 5-4 ball game. Bennett then came in to pitch for Pulver, who left with runners on first and second base. Jest was brought home on a single to left by Land as the game headed into the extra frames tied at 5-all.

Schmitt picked up the win, scattering four hits over 8.0 innings while fanning five along the way. Bennett (2-4) struck out three in the loss.

In the bottom of the eighth Lane led off with a double to left center and reached third via sacrifice bunt by Jest. Marshall brought in Jessica Ferrick briefly as she intentionally walked the bases loaded before Williamson was brought back into the mix to pitch.

Drawing the day to an end, a Marshall error in the infield during a Menendez at-bat allowed Lane to score unearned and cap the game at 6-5.

Top hitter for the Herd were Hughes and Gue who each went 2-for-3 with one run scored.

Marshall softball will finish the series at 11 a.m. on Sunday. Live game video is available for a fee through All-Access found on the softball schedule page.
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