In their first games of the season on Friday, the Marshall softball team split a doubleheader with Southwest Conference rival Redwood Valley. A five-run fourth inning sparked the Cardinals to an 11-8 win in the opener, while Marshall hammered 21 hits en route to 18 runs in an 18-10 victory in the nightcap.
"We joked on the way home that this was our first full outdoor practice," Marshall head coach Jack Houseman said. "It was good to get outside. It was good to get a couple games in and see what work we've got to do for the rest of the season.
"In the first one we made some mental errors on defense that cost us," he added. "Not necessarily fielding errors, just not knowing where to go with the ball or knowing where to be. Otherwise I think we would have faired a little better in the first one."
The Tigers trailed throughout Game 1, but a four-run inning in the bottom of the fifth cut the Redwood Valley lead to 9-8. The Cardinals added a pair of insurance runs in the top of the seventh before preventing the Marshall comeback.
Sadie Zahrbock went 3-for-3 from the plate for the Tigers, including a double and a home run. Callie Graff, Marshall's starting pitcher, was 3-for-5 with a double as well. Emily Mortier and Miranda Fischer also chipped in with a double each.
In Game 2 the Tigers scored early and often, leading 8-0 entering the bottom of the second. Marshall led 11-7 after four innings and used a five-run top of the sixth to put the game out of reach.
RV121 500 2-11 12 3
Marshall003 140 0-8 12 5
R-Alyssa Lueck; M-Callie Graff. WP: Lueck. LP-Graff. HR: M-Sadie Zahrbock. 2B: M-Graff, Zahrbock, Emily Mortier, Miranda Fischer.
Marshall440 315 1-18 21 3
RV030 401 2-10 12 4
M-Miranda Fischer; R-Nichole Bunting. WP-Fischer. LP-Bunting. 2B: M-Brooke Louwagie, Emily Mortier, Fischer.
Miranda Fischer picked up the win, pitching all seven innings and batting 3-for-5 for the game with a double. Senior Brooke Louwagie was 2-for-3 with a double also, while Mortier swatted her second double of the day. The Tigers totaled 33 hits as a team in the two games.
"I was impressed with our bats," Houseman said. "We only ended up with six strikeouts for the day, so I think we did well at the plate. We just did a good job of making contact and forcing the defense to play the ball."
In 2012 Fischer and Graff pitched in every game for the Tigers as freshmen. A year more seasoned, Houseman felt that their improvement was immediately visible in team's first games.
"Overall they did well. I think their control was better than last year," he said. "I just think that if our defense had performed a little better, they would have got off the field a little sooner and avoided a few of those long innings. That can wear on them, especially since they hadn't pitched a full game yet."
Marshall (1-1 overall, 1-1 SWC) will take the field again on Monday for a lone road game against the Montevideo Thunder Hawks.