MT to face Marshall in C-USA Matchup

Herd playing in Murfreesboro for the first time

April 4, 2014 · @MTAthletics

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - The Middle Tennessee softball team (7-29, 2-9 C-USA) hosts Conference USA foe Marshall (12-23, 3-6 C-USA) for the first time April 5-6 at the Blue Raider Softball Complex. Saturday features a doubleheader with the first game starting at 1 p.m. and Sunday concludes the three-game series with a solo game at noon.

The Blue Raiders finally return home after playing its last five games on the road, concluding the road swing at WKU April 2. Middle Tennessee last played on its home field March 23, where it captured its second C-USA win of the season over LA Tech 5-3.

Against WKU Wednesday, the Blue Raiders shot out to an early 2-0 lead but fell behind when WKU plated three runs in the bottom half of the first. After three and a half innings were played, WKU held the 5-4 lead. Hilltopper shortstop Amanda Thomas committed an error in the top half of the fourth that allowed MT to score. Thomas responded when presented with a bases loaded opportunity, taking advantage by hitting a grand slam to center field. WKU added another run in the sixth to take the 10-4 victory in the 50th meeting between the two schools.

Samantha Nieves led the Blue Raiders, going 2-for-4 at the plate, while Nina Dever and LaRi Mitchell each tallied one RBI. Mitchell also swiped her 18th stolen base of the season.

Through 36 games, Laura Dukes has a team-high .400 batting average with 27 walks. Dukes also boasts a team best 14 doubles, while Dever is the only other Blue Raider to have double-digit doubles this season with 10. Senior Kayla Toney is second behind Dukes with a .325 average and leads MT with 25 RBI.

Marshall is fresh off a sweep of Radford April 2, outscoring the Highlanders 11-3 in the doubleheader with a 4-0 shutout in the first game of the double-dip. Prior to the wins over Radford, the Thundering Herd dropped a three-game series at Mississippi State March 29-30. The Herd only managed one run in the series, which came at the hands of a 9-1 five-inning defeat March 30.

At the dish, the Herd is much like the Blue Raiders, boasting a slightly better .267 team batting average to MT's .259. Kaelynn Greene has a team-high .400 batting average (48-for-120), while starting all 35 games. Marshall has six batters that have tallied double-figure RBI, led by Shaelynn Braxton (27) and Raquel Escareno (21). On the base paths, Morgan Zerkle is 25-for-27 in stolen base attempts, while Greene is 16-for-19.

The Herd has tallied a team ERA of 5.92 with Jordan Dixon leading the team with a 9-15 record. Dixon has a team-high 135 strikeouts in a 132.1 innings pitched. Lindsey Fadneck has a 3-6 record in 10 games started with one complete game and 34 strikeouts.

Middle Tennessee and Marshall will play a doubleheader Saturday with first pitch slated for 1 p.m. Live video and statistics will be available by visiting GoBlueRaiders.com and follow @MT_Softball on Twitter for game updates.

Follow the Blue Raiders on Twitter @MTAthletics for continued updates.