Olympic Sports

Softball falls to No. 2 FIU, 4-1, plays winner of LA Tech-WKU to get to title game


HUNTINGTON – Marshall, the No. 1 seed in the Conference USA Softball Championship, was shot down by No. 2 FIU today, 4-1, in a game moved first to 11 a.m., then actual first pitch was let go about 2:30 p.m. FIU (45-12) advances to the title game on Saturday, 1 p.m. on CBS Sports Network.

The Herd, now 41-9, will await the winner of game 8 coming up, WKU vs. Louisiana Tech in game 9 of the tournament. Marshall and that winner will meet for the berth opposite FIU on Saturday. Marshall shut out WKU on Wednesday, 2-0, behind C-USA Pitcher of the Year Jordan Dixon’s no-hitter. FIU beat LA Tech last night, 7-1, to advance.

Marshall’s Dixon allowed four (all earned) runs on eight hits, four walks, three strikeouts and two hit batters against FIU. Shannon Saile of FIU, the C-USA Freshman of the Year, allowed one run on four hits, walked four and struck out nine. Morgan Zerkle, the C-USA Player of the Year, was 2-for-3 at bat for the Herd.

FIU loaded the bases in the top of the first and scored an early run courtesy of a walk from Jessica Rivera. Dixon escaped the jam with a pair of strikeouts and a popup to short to end the inning. The Herd would respond in the bottom of the third, utilizing a patient approach at the plate and an eventual sacrifice fly from Taylor McCord drew the score even at one.

FIU regained the lead in the top of the fifth after back-to-back doubles from FIU’s Stephanie Texeira and Dani Mowry. Following a pair of shutdown innings from Saile, the Panthers added some insurance runs in the top of the seventh as a Rivera double brought home two. Saile closed out the victory with a pop out and a pair of strikeouts. With the victory, FIU improves to 45-12, setting a new program record for wins in the process.

Postgame Quotes
FIU Head Coach Gator Rebhan

You knew it was going to be a pitchers dual obviously with Jordan Dixon and Shannon Saile. How were you able to handle Dixon this game?
“I mean the girls stepped up and we got the hits we needed to. Dixon is a great pitcher. You got Shannon and Dixon pitching against each other so you know it’s going to be a low-scoring game. Jessie Rivera came in with a big hit at the end and that opened it up for us.”

What does it mean to get on the board first today?
“It means a lot, especially against a team like Marshall. They are going to come at you all seven innings and for us to score early it makes it a little bit easier to play the game.”

How does it feel to get the win and automatic championship spot?
“It makes things a little easier but it’s still a long way from winning the conference. I’m going to let them celebrate for a few minutes then get back focused. It feels good to be ahead for right now.”

Postgame Quotes
Marshall Head Coach Shonda Stanton

On today’s game:
“Great ballgame though six innings. 2-1 ball game, exactly what you want to see. That first inning, I felt that infield single, we take care of that, it changes the complexion of the game. So, for our team it’s all about the fast start, play hard and finish strong. We didn’t get a fast start, it felt like we played hard in the middle innings and we didn’t finish strong. It’s a simple game. I think the game plan, where the difference was, FIU was better at taking balls and swinging at strikes. We were the reverse. Sometimes I think you overcomplicate the game and you’ve got to give FIU credit. They played a great game and we caved too many times.”

On facing Saile:
“She had a great day. The accolades, what she’s received this year, are deserving. But it goes back to swinging at balls and taking strikes. It’s just some very little things that can get a sudden change if you do one thing right. I just felt like we didn’t compete there at the end. I like what our body of work has been all season and now we’ll see what we’re made of and if we’ll be able to come out. The great thing about how this tournament is set up is we’ve taken care of things all year long and we have this opportunity when we weren’t as sharp as we needed to be.”

On going into the next game:
“I think it’s about ourselves at this point in time and taking care of what we do well. I think the first thing is getting a fast start. This group has been an incredible group to coach and I look forward to being in an opportunity where – hey – we made some mistakes but we’re not out of it. We’ve just got to come out. I want them to be lions tonight and I want them to just pounce and attack and not worry about the result. The story is going to write itself. We just have to control what we can control one pitch at a time, win each pitch, win each half inning and seven innings are going to take care of themselves. ”

Game 10 for the Herd versus the winner of WKU-LA Tech will be about 8-9 p.m. EDT. We will live tweet the game @woodywoodrum and have results on Herd Insider.

About Woody Woodrum

Senior Editor and columnist/writer for Herd Insider since 2003, with Kindred Communications on radio for Marshall football/men's basketball pregame and postgame shows since 1996 and with First Sentry Bank Sportsline (Also Scott on Sports, Sideline Sports and Herd Insider Sportsline) since 1997. Married to Liz (12-22-1990) and one son, Tre' (11-7-1997). National Sportswriters & Sportscasters West Virginia Broadcaster of the Year winner for radio, 2000; won W.Va. Broadcasters Best Talk Show in 2013 with co-host Paul Swann and W.Va. Broadcasters Best Play-by-Play in 2015 with Jason Toy (Huntington at South Charleston, state AAA semifinals). Member of (College) Football Writers Association of America, (College) Basketball Writers Association of America and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association. Color commentator for Marshall football (1999-2000), for Marshall basketball (2004-2016) and Marshall baseball (2004-2016). Color for high school football at Spring Valley (1999-2008), Cabell Midland (2009-2012) and Huntington (W.Va.) High School (2013-2016).

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