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Herd tavels to Beckley to take on Chippewas


Published: Thursday, March 14, 2013

Updated: Thursday, March 14, 2013 00:03

Marshall baseball heads back out on the road this weekend. But this time, the Herd will have the home advantage.

The Thundering Herd will face Central Michigan in a four game matchup at Epling Stadium in Beckley, W.Va.

The Chippewas are currently 6-9, while Marshall is riding on a four game win streak with the sweep of Northern Kentucky last weekend.

“Confidence is huge in the game of baseball,” senior Gray Stafford said. “I feel like since we’ve won four in a row we are ready to take a winning attitude into our next games.”

Stafford is second on the team with a .339 batting average but leads the team in hits (19) and doubles (7). Stafford is also second on the team in runs batted in with eight.

Stafford said he feels like his team expects him to come up big with potential runs on base.

“I think our team expects each other to be successful with runners on base,” Stafford said. “We know those are big at bats and we all believe in each other to get the job done.”

Senior catcher Matt Kirkwood agrees with Stafford about the Herd’s confidence level.

“Winning four straight is always big,” Kirkwood said. “We’ve been playing really good team baseball the past six games and this gives us a lot of momentum going into this weekend. The younger guys are really starting to buy into our system.”

Kirkwood is one of only two Herd players to have notched a home run this season. The Pennsylvania native is fourth on team with a .280 batting average.

“This week I’ve just been working on mechanical things with my swing and offensive and defensive drills into my routine,” Kirkwood said.

The Herd will play one game Friday, a doubleheader on Saturday, and will finish out the series with a game Sunday at noon.

The pitching rotation will face a change-up from its normal order, as the Herd will face in-state rival WVU on Tuesday.

One pitcher who will remain the same is closer Matt Margaritonda. The sophomore has three saves on the year.

“The pressure I feel being the closer is the team depending on me to get the job done to get the win,” Margaritonda said. “The defense behind me takes a lot of pressure off me. I really trust them to make the plays for me, but I have to give most of the credit to Kirkwood for being a wall back there.”

Margaritonda mirrored his teammates thoughts about the team’s current win streak.

“After winning four games straight our momentum has turned into confidence,” Margaritonda said. “Our confidence is growing everyday as a team, but we still know there’s areas of improvement. We’re just gonna keep the ball rolling because we know how talented we are and how far we can go.”

The Herd last faced Central Michigan in 2005, when they were swept in a three game series. The Chippewas lead the series all time 11-1.

Caitie Smith can be contacted at

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