May 2, 2014
HUNTINGTON, W. V. - Louisiana Tech dug itself a deep hole by starting the Conference USA season losing its first six games as the Lady Techsters were swept by both UTSA and UTEP back in March.
However, head coach Mark Montgomery and Co. have righted the ship winning seven of their past 14 league contests to put itself in position to qualify for the Conference USA Tournament heading into this weekend's three-game series at Marshall.
The series begins Saturday at 12 p.m. CT with a doubleheader followed by Sunday's 11 a.m. single game. It will be the first ever meetings between LA Tech and Marshall in softball.
Tech (19-30, 7-13) still faces an uphill climb in order to be one of the eight teams (out of 13) to earn a spot in the three-day C-USA championship set for Boca Raton, Florida May 7-9.
For starters Tech must sweep all three games this weekend against Marshall (23-30, 10-11 C-USA) on the Thundering Herd's home turf. The Lady Techsters haven't swept a league series this season.
Next, Tech needs some help from a couple of its C-USA partners. East Carolina must win at least one game in its three-game homestand against UTEP. Then either UAB must win two out of three on the road against UTSA or FIU must go on the road and sweep Southern Miss.
Although not the perfect scenario for Tech heading into the weekend, it is one that is realistic for Montgomery and his young team.
Only three teams (Tulsa, UAB, North Texas) have clinched a spot in the C-USA Tournament while only one team (Middle Tennessee) has been eliminated. That means nine teams enter this weekend fighting for five slots.
Tech enters the weekend playing much better defensively. The Lady Techsters have only committed only seven errors in its last 16 games after starting the year by committing 58 in its first 33 contests.
Pauline Tufi (13-9, 2.97 ERA) and Bianca Duran (6-18, 3.62 ERA) have both shown much more consistency in the circle over the past three or four weeks. They will be challenged by a Thundering Herd squad that boasts both power (40 home runs) and speed (106 stolen bases).
Kristen Miles (.336, 31 runs), Pauline Tufi (.283, 9 doubles, 4 HR, 33 RBI), Janine Godwin (.262, 16 runs), Hailey Winter (.252, 2 HR, 14 RBI), Bianca Duran (.241, 9 doubles, 2 HR, 20 RBI) and Katelynn Hill (.237, 4 doubles, 12 RBI) must also perform well this weekend at the plate.
Marshall boasts two of the top base stealing threats in the league in Morgan Zerkle (.339, 42-44 SB) and Kaelynn Greene (.382, 29-36 SB) while Shaelynn Braxton (.335, 15 HR, 53 RBI) provides the power.
In the circle, Lindsey Fadnek (7-8, 4.60 ERA) and Jordan Dixon (16-20, 4.77 ERA) are Marshall's top two arms in the circle.
Live streaming and live stats for the weekend series are available at Herdzone.com.