BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Timely and patient offense by Tulsa helped them defeat the Marshall University softball team, 3-2, in the Conference USA Championship on Saturday at UAB.
Ashley Gue, Samantha Spurlock, Taylor Thompson, and Andi Williamson earned Conference USA All-Tournament Team honors for their performance during the championship.
“After the game when I looked at them I still saw winners and still saw champions,” said head coach Shonda Stanton. “I still see a team that played together, played hard, always fought, and gave it our best effort.”
Gue along with Alianna Telles each had two hits for the Thundering Herd (36-21) in the contest.
The Golden Hurricane (41-12) took the early advantage in the second inning as Jill Barrett’s infield single allowed the first run of the game to score. UT added another run in the fourth on Caitlin Everett’s single to center, and Tulsa held a 2-0 lead after four innings.
A quick response by the Herd erased the Hurricane lead in the following inning. The promising inning began with a walk by Spurlock, a Melissa Loesing bunt single and another walk to Telles to load the bases. In the next at-bat, Gue hit a floater over the UT third baseman to drive in one run. An infield groundout to second by Rebecca Gamby allowed Loesing to score to tie the contest at two each midway through the fifth.
In the bottom half of the inning Lacey Middlebrooks, who batted while starting the game at pitcher led off with a double. After two walks (one intentional) to load the bases, Cierra Hughes battled through at the plate and drew a walk that scored a run. Tulsa would lead the game 3-2 after five innings of play.
Marshall didn’t go down without a fight in its final inning. Telles collected her 15th double of the season to begin the inning. After Jazmine Valle drew a two out walk, Middlebrooks forced Alyisa Hively into a pop fly at second to end the game.
Gamby, Gue, and Telles each concluded the championship with a tournament high five hits. Telles’ average of .500 was a Marshall team high.
“It is impressive what we did in championship play,” said Stanton. “Seniors Ali and Gamby each had five hits, Sam, Gue and Taylor made all-tournament team and Andi was a warrior.”
Andi Williamson (25-13) started the game for MU and suffered the loss. She struck out three while allowing eight hits. The junior had a tournament high 15 strikeouts. She now stands at 267 strikeouts on the season, three short of tying the Marshall single-season record.
Middlebrooks (20-5) went the distance, striking out three while giving up seven MU hits.
Marshall had opened the Conference USA tourney last Thursday with an 8-1 win over East Carolina. The Herd then won 3-2 in 10 innings over host UAB.
Williamson, a Chapmanville Regional High School graduate and Harts native, was the winning pitcher against the Pirates as she fired all seven innings and allowed one run and four hits with five strikeouts and one walk.
Williamson then pitched the complete game, extra inning win over the Blazers. She went all 10 innings within the circle and allowed two runs and 12 hits with seven punchouts and four walks.
For the season, Williamson was 25-13 with a 1.50 ERA, best on the team. She pitched 238 innings and allowed 51 earned runs and 168 hits with 268 strikeouts and 115 issued walks.
Marshall was not chosen on Sunday to play in the NCAA Division I Softball Tournament.
Four Conference USA teams made it, including UAB, Houston, Central Florida and league champion Tulsa.