HUNTINGTON — The Marshall softball team returns to Dot Hicks Field as the Ohio Bobcats (27-13) come to town for a single game. The Thundering Herd (33-7) is undefeated at home this season. The contest that was originally scheduled for March 15 in Athens, Ohio will not be rescheduled.
The next five games for Marshall will all be out of Conference USA. This coming weekend (April 22-23) is Marshall’s conference bye week. After the Herd takes on Ohio, Marshall plays at Morehead State on Wednesday, April 19. The Herd then travels to Blacksburg, Va., for a three-game series with Virginia Tech that begins Friday, April 21, at 7 p.m. The Herd and the Hokies play a doubleheader on Saturday, April 22, beginning at 12 p.m.
Marshall is coming off a three-game set at FIU in which the Herd lost its first series of the season. Marshall took game one, 2-1, for senior pitcher Jordan Dixon’s 100th career win. The Panthers took the next two games. It was the first time all season that Marshall lost two consecutive games.
The Herd still leads the nation in stolen bases per game with 3.18. UT Martin is second with 2.98 steals per game. Individually, Marshall is the only program with two players ranked in the top 10 in steals per game. Junior Elicia D’Orazio is fourth at 1.08 per game but is tied for the most total steals with 43. Senior Morgan Zerkle is tenth with .84 per game.
Despite the two losses, Marshall stayed in the top 30 in the country in RPI this week with a ranking of 27th. The Herd is still the highest ranked team from Conference USA in RPI. The Top 25 rankings come out Tuesday.
NCAA RPI Rankings for Conference USA
27 – Marshall (33-7)
39 – Florida Atlantic (29-16)
47 – FIU (34-11)
88 – North Texas (22-20)
93 – Louisiana Tech (29-15)
95 – WKU (24-22)
102 – Southern Miss (24-22)
103 – Charlotte (24-19)
143 – UAB (15-27)
146 – UTSA (17-26)
189 – Middle Tennessee State (14-23)
218 – UTEP (11-31)
Senior Shaelynn Braxton crushed her 33rd career home run in game two at FIU. With the blast, Braxton moved ahead of Samantha Rodriguez (2005-08) for second place in Herd history. Rachel Folden (2005-08) holds the top spot with 58. Braxton also came through with her 39th career double in the game one victory that put her in a three-way tie for sixth all-time with Leigh Wintter (2003-06) and Rebecca Gamby (2009-12).
The Ohio Bobcats are 27-13, and 8-7 in the MAC. Marshall and Ohio have met 55 times over the years and the Herd leads the all-time series 35-20. The first ever meeting came on March 5, 1994, a 5-1 Ohio win. The two teams did not meet in 1995 but have played every season since. The Herd won five of the first seven meetings before the Bobcats took
The Herd won five of the first seven meetings before the Bobcats took five-in-a-row from 1998-99. Marshall then won the next five as the two schools were now conference foes in the Mid-American Conference. The Bobcats held a slim 14-13 series advantage during the MAC days (1998-2005). Marshall’s only series sweep over Ohio while in the MAC came in 2003 (April 26-27) during the Herd’s run to the regular season crown.
Since Marshall left the MAC for Conference USA, the Herd is 17-4 against Ohio. Marshall set a team record for most runs scored in an 18-3 win over the Bobcats on March 19, 2015. In the second inning, junior Alyssa Woodrum hit a pinch-hit grand slam to give Marshall a 6-0 lead. After Ohio cut the lead to three in the top of the third, the Herd exploded for nine runs in the bottom of the third.
Seven of the nine runs came from two home runs; a grand slam by junior Shaelynn Braxton and then a three-run homer by junior Katalin Lucas. Marshall scored three more runs in the fourth to set the Herd record. Braxton finished 3-for-4 with six RBIs. Lucas and Woodrum drove in four runs each and sophomore Morgan Zerkle was 3-for-4 with three runs and two RBIs.
The last meeting came in a doubleheader at home for the Herd. The teams split the day as Marshall took the first game, 8-0 in five innings, and Ohio won the second, 7-0. In the first game, senior pitcher Jordan Dixon tossed her first career no-hitter for the 66th win of her career. The victory broke the Marshall record for most career wins that was set in 1998 by Marshall Athletics Hall of Famer Cristy Waring (1995-98) and then tied in 2013 by Andi Williamson (2011-13).
Ohio began the season 19-6 before entering into MAC play. The Bobcats won its first five conference games before going on a 3-7 slide. Ohio lost two-of-three to Akron over the weekend (April 14-15). Senior pitcher Savannah Jo Dorsey has been the leader in the circle for the Bobcats. Dorsey has been consistently dominant over the past two seasons since redshirting in 2015 with an injury. In 2017, Dorsey has a 1.44 ERA with a record of 16-6. The senior ace has pitched 249 strikeouts in 160.1 innings of work. She has gone the distance 18 times this season and opponents are hitting a mere .151 against her. Junior Danielle Steine has been a steady number two this season with a record of 9-6 and a 2.63 ERA.
Junior Danielle Steine has been a steady number two this season with a record of 9-6 and a 2.63 ERA. Stiene has also been a strikeout pitcher with 114 in 87.2 innings. Dorsey is averaging 10.9 strikeouts per seven innings and Stiene has been sitting down batters at a rate of 9.2 per seven innings. Ohio also sports a .975 team fielding percentage.
On the offensive side, the Bobcats are hitting .283 as a team with four regular starters batting over .300. Sophomore Alex Day leads the team with a .346 average, 47 hits and 30 runs scored. Junior Mikayla Cooper leads in extra base hits with 15 (10 doubles and five home runs). Sophomore Morgan Geno is tops on the squad with seven home runs and 33 RBIs. Sophomore Deanna Cole (15) and redshirt junior Taylor Saxton (14) are the only Ohio players with double-digit steals.
Sophomore Morgan Geno is tops on the squad with seven home runs and 33 RBIs. Sophomore Deanna Cole (15) and redshirt junior Taylor Saxton (14) are the only Ohio players with double-digit steals.