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LEXINGTON, Ky. (hokiesports.com) - In an epic pitcher’s duel that lasted nearly four hours and saw a combined 402 pitches from the two hurlers, the Virginia Tech softball team defeated Marshall University 3-2 in 13 innings Saturday night at John Cropp Stadium in an NCAA Championship elimination game.
Both teams had great opportunities, but in the bottom of the 13th inning, Amanda Ake laced a two-out, two-strike double to the gap and made it to third base on an error. Senior Bkaye Smith, on a 2-0 count, then reached out and laced a single to left field to plate Ake and send the Hokies streaming out of the dugout in jubilation.
“First off, hats off to Marshall,” said Tech head coach Scot Thomas. “I mean, Andi Williamson just did an unbelievable job out there pitching two full games. Hats off to her and the way those girls played. We knew we were going to be in for a battle all the way, but I tell you what, when you get into those types of games, I was really impressed with what they were able to do. I was impressed with what we were able to do. We hung in there, battled through some bases-loaded jams, Jasmin (Harrell) threw great, and we were able to get a run there in the 13th. What a great game for everybody. The fans and everyone involved. It was a great regional game.”
None of it would have been possible without the Herculean effort of senior Jasmin Harrell in the circle. Harrell broke the school record for innings pitched, going all 13 innings in the victory. The previous record was 12.2 set by Angela Tincher against Florida State in Tech’s 3-2, 14-inning win over Florida State in the opening round of the 2005 ACC Championship. Harrell scattered 13 hits, but set a new career high with 13 strikeouts in moving to 18-8 on the year. She tossed 186 pitches - 121 for strikes - and walked six, but didn’t allow a run after the fifth inning.
Marshall pitcher Andi Williamson was equally as impressive, going 12.2 innings with nine strikeouts. She threw 216 pitches right after throwing a complete game against Notre Dame to get to the nightcap.
Tech took the lead early on with a run in the first inning when Dani Anderson reached on an error, allowing Lauren Gaskill to score. Marshall took the lead with a two-RBI single in the fifth inning, but Logan Spaw tied it up in the sixth inning with a single to right field to plate Kylie McGoldrick.
Marshall twice had the bases loaded late in the game (10th and 13th innings) and neither time scored a run. The Thundering Herd left 18 runners on base while Tech left 10.
“I am kind of weird because I feel more relaxed because I know I can go home with the ball or it’s a play anywhere at the plate so I just keep thinking strikeout or get a ground ball so we can maybe turn two somewhere,” Harrell said. “I felt really confident in those situations.”
The game was the second-longest in program history, falling one inning short of the record set in that 2005 Tech/FSU game. It was the longest NCAA game in Tech history, surpassing the 2005 12-inning win over Louisville in Knoxville, Tenn.
Tech (27-20) now advances to Sunday’s regional final where it will have to beat 17th-ranked and 12th-seeded Kentucky twice on its home field to advance to the Super Regionals. The first game will begin at 1 p.m.
For updates on Virginia Tech softball, follow the Hokies on Twitter (@VT_Softball).