SALISBURY, Md. – Freshman Paige Knussman delivered a vital blast up the middle in the fifth inning against the State University of New York at Cortland as the Salisbury University softball team tied the game 2-2 and rode that momentum to an 8-2 victory in the opening day of the Salisbury Invitational. Earlier in the day the Sea Gulls picked up a 5-0 win over Capital University.
Knussman would pinch hit for junior Angelia McDowell in the bottom of the fifth inning with senior Lindsay McCabe and freshman Katie Sebbane in scoring position, as the Sea Gulls faced a 2-0 deficit with two outs against the Red Dragons (5-5), and delivered a hard shot up the middle to tie the game 2-2. SU would then score the game-winning run off a Cortland error as senior outfielder Sarah Alpaugh smacked the ball to Amanda Atkins who couldn't handle the well-placed drive. Senior catcher Michelle Gravdahl would cross home on the error as well as McDowell, to go up 4-2. Knussman went 2-for-2 in the two games Friday, with two RBIs in pinch-hit opportunities.
After entering the contest in the bottom of the fourth, to replace junior Kathryn Larson, sophomore hurler Rachel Johnson retired the side in the sixth, keeping the two-run cushion the Gulls had just earned.
Salisbury (14-2) went on to score four runs off five hits in the bottom of the sixth, including a run scored by junior Harley Hill, who touched home off a wild pitch. Senior shortstop Hannah Mills increased Salisbury's lead to 7-2 with a single up the middle before Alpaugh's laser down the left field line plated classmate Chelsea Brooks.
Johnson picked up her second win of the day, after shutting out Capital, with five strikeouts and one walk in 3 1/3 innings pitched. The Preston, Md., native gave up two hits in the contest.
In the first contest of the day, Johnson matched her career-high 14 strikeouts while fanning the first five Capital batters. The sophomore would give up three hits while walking one Crusader before Larson entered in the top of the seventh allowing just one hit and striking out one.
Alpaugh scored on senior second baseman Carly Read's groundout to second base in the second inning and the one run would prove to be all the Sea Gulls would need in the contest.
Salisbury would strike again in the top of the third as senior designated player Lindsay Brown drove in her first run of the day. Brown went 2-for-5 with two RBIs. Brown would bring in Gravdahl in the top of the fifth before Hill and Knussman drove in the final two runs of the game.
McCabe led the maroon and gold going 2-for-4 with three runs scored, one walk and one sacrifice hit.
Salisbury will continue action in the Salisbury Invitation tomorrow at 1 p.m., and 3 p.m. Game times have been moved up due to expected inclement weather. Capital and Ithaca College will now begin at 9 a.m., and SUNY Cortland vs. Capital will follow at 11 a.m.