The Marshall University softball team is on a 16-game winning streak. Much of that success has come from senior and West Virginia native Morgan Zerkle, who has been selected to play for Team USA this summer.
Team USA, Preseason Conference USA Player of the Year, Top 50 Watch List by USA softball. These are just a few of the accolades that Morgan Zerkle received before the start of the 2017 softball season. As a captain of the Thundering Herd, Zerkle has led Marshall to a 25-4 record overall and a 9-0 record in Conference USA. Zerkle said she never expected this much success.
“Not really, when I was younger that was always a dream, but when you commit to Marshall University, you don’t necessarily think about what could happen after that,”Zerkle said. “You’re here and you’re going to college, you’re playing, but you don’t necessarily think about all the stuff that could happen after these four years, but they go by pretty quick.”
But for Zerkle, the story runs deeper than success on the field. She’s from Milton, just a short drive up I-64 from Huntington and Marshall University. Playing softball at Marshall has been a dream of Zerkle’s since she was young, she just never thought that she’d be quite this successful.
“Yeah, I definitely think it means a lot more when you’re representing your hometown area and giving others a hope that they can play at their home team school and still achieve national recognition,” Zerkle said.
Zerkle is a team captain for the Herd. And has starred in her previous three seasons on the team. Marshall Head Coach Shonda Stanton said Zerkle is the kind of player every head coach hopes for.
“She’s the epitome of all that you can accomplish here as a student athlete, she’s Miss Marshall, she’s on the top 50 watch list, she’s preseason player of the yea,” Stanton said.”So she’s getting all of these accolades and obviously has all these academic accolades as well, but she’ll be the first to tell you that she doesn’t achieve that stuff without everybody else.”
Besides batting well above 400, Zerkle has become known for stealing bases. During her junior year, she stole 28 bases -- and that’s while missing 22 games with an ankle injury. In 2015 during her sophomore year, she led the nation in stolen bases with 47. She had a hit in 47 of the 50 games she played in and had a 27-game hitting streak at one time. This year, Zerkle has 29 stolen bases, with 23 games left in the season. Zerkle said it’s about helping her team.
“One of my biggest expectations was to finally win a conference championship and this year I think that we definitely have the team to do so,” Zerkles said. “And so far with the winning streak that we’re on, I think the team is coming together and looking good for us, so I think this might be the year.”
All of Zerkle’s on-field work led to her being selected to the USA Elite team last summer -- a team of college stars selected to play against Team USA to get them ready for international competition. Zerkle’s performance on the USA Elite team led to her selection for Team USA for this coming summer as USA softball will compete in the World Cup. Zerkle said she understands that she has to work harder to get the attention on a national scale.
“No matter where you are and what you’re doing, you have to perform, at the tryouts if you don’t perform you don’t make it and being from here means they’re not going to look at you unless you really make a statement and I think that’s something I’ve had to like push myself to do, to make sure I get noticed because I’m from a smaller area,” Zerkle said.
Marshall travels to the University of Southern Mississippi this weekend for a series against the Golden Eagles.