One of the teams that I always enjoyed watching last season was the Thundering Herd of Marshall. Led by one of my favorite players ever in Andi Williamson, they followed a solid regular season with a surprise upset victory in the Conference USA tournament, a win that propelled them to the program's first-ever NCAA tournament berth.
Alysia Hively was the starting first baseman for that Marshall squad, and a member of the star-studded senior class that left Huntington after last season. She started all but one game of her final year, and was the team's leading power threat, parking nine roundtrippers over the fence.
As excellent as she was a player, Alysia was even better academically. She earned Academic Medals all four of her years at Marshall, and was named to the Conference USA Commissioner's Honor Roll in all four seasons, as well. She was a two-time NFCA Scholar Athlete, and was a member of the C-USA All-Academic team in her senior season.
Follow Alysia on Twitter @Ayye_Hive42
Justin's World: Talk about y’all’s simply magical run through the 2013 conference tournament. How were y’all able to beat some really great teams & take home a title that only a few even predicted you to win?
Alysia Hively: I think a big part of it was our upper classmen knowing how it felt to make it to that Championship game and come up short. From the start of last year, we decided that we weren’t going to settle for anything less than the Championship, and we made sure that all of our newcomers knew what Marshall Softball was all about. A big part was our team chemistry from the beginning. We had a rough start to the season, but it didn’t drive us apart, if anything it pulled us together. I have never been part of a team that fought for each other the way this team did. From week to week, someone new was stepping up and doing something huge for Marshall Softball. It wasn’t always pretty, but we were fighters, and we never doubted our chances. This team had so much heart as a whole, and I believe that carried us through.
JW: What was it like to be a part of the 1st-ever conference-champion Herd Softball squad?
AH: It’s hard to put that feeling into words. It was great to achieve the goal that worked so hard to accomplish. With that win, everyone was able to see what Marshall Softball had to offer. Coach Williams always said, “We play for Championships,” and we were able to prove that. It was an absolute rush. We put Marshall Softball on the map, and we truly became the best team in Marshall Softball history. It felt almost unreal; I was on a high so long afterward.
JW: If you had to choose just one, what would you say was the “defining moment” of the Herd’s 2013 campaign?
AH: Hands down, it would have to be beating Houston in our televised game during the regular season. We haven’t always had the best history with televised games, and I know we were all a little jittery. It was a very hard fought game. Houston has an amazing softball fan base, and it isn’t the easiest complex to play at. In the bottom of the 7th, runners aboard, and facing the best hitters in their lineup, we were able to hold out for the win. I believe that is when we truly realized the potential we had.
JW: What is your favorite memory from your career?
AH: I would have to say hitting a walk off against UCF in the 2012 season. It was our last conference series before traveling to UAB for the tournament, and they made the trip to Huntington. They had to beat us once to take third seed in the tournament, and leave us in fifth. On Saturday we won both games of the double header. Sunday’s game was 0-0 through ten innings. I lead off the bottom of the 10th, and with a 3-0 count, I got the pitch I was looking for. I was able to send it over the fence. With the sweep of UCF, we were able to clinch the third seed for the tournament. However, the best part was that it was Senior Day, and the seniors could end their career at Dot Hicks Field with a win.
JW: If you could relive or redo one moment from your career, at any level, what point in time would you like to go back to?
AH: I would have to relive representing the South in the Junior League World Series in Kirkland, Washington. It was such an amazing experience to see how so many girls from all over the world enjoyed the game that I love. It was also great to learn how the strategy of the game was different amongst teams from different areas of the world.
JW: Why did you choose to go to school & play ball at Marshall?
AH: First off, I liked the tradition of Marshall Softball, and how the program was ran, but what really sold me was the size of the campus. It has the atmosphere of a large school, but the campus is small, and so are the class sizes. I’m from a small town, and the small class size really made me feel “at home”. Plus, Marshall is only a two hour drive from my house, so I was able to see my family on a regular basis, and they were able to come to all of my home games.
JM: If you had the opportunity to step into the box & face any pitcher from history, who would you like the chance to hit against?
AH: Michelle Smith definitely. She was so influential to the game of softball, and by far is one of the greats. Her skill was untouchable. To be able to be on the same field as her would be an honor.
JW: What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
AH: “The nature of the game is failure. Celebrate the successes. If you dwell on the bad, you’ll find that the successes become harder to achieve.”
JW: If you can, describe the feeling after the last out was recorded in your final game & you realized that your career was officially over.
AH: Deflated. Heartbroken. You can insert just about any depressing word you wish, and it would probably fit. It was so hard to stomach, losing two games at regionals in the same fashion. I made a very crucial error at the beginning of the game that allowed Virginia Tech to score their first run, and I feel like that was the deciding factor. Even now, I replay it in my head. I feel like I let my team down and cost us the chance to move on, so at the end of the game it was an extremely sickening feeling. I don’t think that feeling is one that will leave me anytime in the near future. Maybe after I’m out of the game for a while longer. It is such a heartbreaking feeling of knowing how close our team was.
JW: If you could sit down & have dinner with any three people from history, who would they be and why?
AH: Jackie Robinson because he was able to succeed when so many wished to see him fail. Also, he was strong and courageous in what had to be a very terrifying situation. He changed the game of baseball forever, and is such an inspiration to many. I know we all take it for granted now, but without the heart of Susan B. Anthony, I probably wouldn’t have had the opportunity to play softball. Women wouldn’t be in the majority of the roles we have today. I’d love to pick her brain about how she found her courage, and how she persevered through all of the scrutiny. Last but not least, on the lighter side, Si Robertson. Loving the show, and growing up living a similar lifestyle as the Robertson family (hunting, fishing, outdoors, country), I would like to meet him off camera. I think it would be interesting to compare the similarities and differences from Si on the show, to Si face to face. I know he’s the comedian on the show, but I do feel as if he really does have some sincere advice to give.
JW: Let’s say you were Aladdin and the genie agreed to grant you three wishes; what would you ask for?
AH: For my parents to have enough money to allow them to live comfortably for the rest of their lives. A state of the art softball facility in my area, so that I could teach young girls the game of softball, and help build their love for the game. To have successful career that will last and stay successful until I reach retirement.