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MU foes cruisin’ for a bruisin’

May 17, 2019

Everybody has heard of the “Bruise Brothers.”

But who is acquainted with the “Bruise Sisters”?

I mean, besides all the college softball teams that have faced Marshall University’s Aly Harrell and Mya Stevenson during the 2019 season.

Those opponents know the “Bruise Sisters” well.

Too well.

That’s because Harrell and Stevenson have spent this season bruising softballs.

Stevenson, a freshman, has swatted 18 homers, while turning in team highs in batting average (.338) and RBI (53).

And Harrell? After smacking 11 homers as a freshman, she ripped 14 home runs while hitting .316 (second on the team) with 40 RBI (also second).

The fact that Stevenson and Harrell are ranked one-two in just about every Thundering Herd hitting statistic is no coincidence. That’s at least partially because Harrell hits second in MU’s batting order while Stevenson is standing on deck in the third slot.

Imagine a pitcher having to face these two power hitters back-to-back.

“At the beginning of the season, people wouldn’t throw to Aly,” said Marshall first-season coach Megan Smith. “She was getting walked a ton. They wouldn’t throw to her. They wouldn’t give her anything. She was getting walked four times a game.

“But then when Mya started doing what Mya can do, we were able to put her right behind Aly to give Aly some pitches. Now, you have to think, ‘OK, if I walk Aly, then I have to pitch to Mya with a runner on.’

“That’s dangerous. You don’t what to do that.”

Which is precisely what George Washington University has to ponder heading into a game at 1 p.m. Thursday against Marshall in the National Invitational Softball Championships at Lynchburg, Virginia.

The mere thought of hitting behind Harrell puts a smile on Stevenson’s face.

“I feel like batting behind Aly gets the other team to wonder who to throw to,” said the native of Mesquite, Texas. “Which one would you rather throw to? We always say, ‘Pick your poison. Which one do you want?’

“So, if Aly doesn’t get pitched to, I’ve got to go defend her. And if Aly gets pitched to, I’m thinking, ‘I’m going to get walked.’ So, I feel like it scares other teams.”

Indeed.

Facing those two back-to-back is downright frightening.

“It takes the weight off my shoulders,” said Harrell, a first baseman from Gahanna, Ohio. “I just know I have to get on base because I know she can get the job done behind me.

“This year I have gotten a lot better pitches with her back there because they know she’s also a threat. It’s nice to have her back there to get me a better opportunity to get a good pitch to hit.

“Mya is such a threat. We can do some damage between the two of us. We can take control of the pitchers.”

And they have.

The “Bruise Sisters” have combined for 32 home runs and 93 RBI — and counting. What’s even more alarming for opponents, however, is the fact Harrell and Stevenson will be wreaking havoc together for another two years.

“That’s great,” said Smith. “They are so young. Seeing Aly when I got the job and knowing she was the Conference USA Freshman of the Year, that was big. And then to add someone like Mya. They make each other better, and obviously they make our offense better.”

Talk about cruisin’ for a bruisin’.

That’s what happens when foes face the “Bruise Sisters.”

Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at clandon@herald-dispatch.com.