Gravdahl's blast keeps Gulls unbeaten as Stitcher picks up 700th win
SALEM, Va. – Senior Michelle Gravdahl faced a 2-and-2 count on Friday afternoon at the Salem Regional of the NCAA softball tournament as top-seeded Salisbury was tied, 3-3, against Christopher Newport University. The game was suspended due to rain and strong winds, and it was nearly 15 hours before Gravdahl saw her next pitch; she made the most of the wait, blasting a grand slam on the first pitch she saw Saturday morning.
The shot gave the Sea Gulls a 7-3 lead in the top of the eighth inning, and they would maintain that edge for the extra-inning win against the Captains, keeping the maroon and gold undefeated in the double-elimination tournament.
The blast was Gravdahl's 10th of the season and second of the game, though the first came a day earlier, in the third inning, giving the Gulls a 2-1 lead at the time.
Friday afternoon, after CNU tied the game with a pair of runs in the bottom of the seventh, Salisbury loaded the bases with two outs on singles by seniors Lindsay McCabe and Carly Read and a fielder's choice. Gravdahl was up against the 2-and-2 count from CNU starting pitcher Krista Townsend when the game was halted, at 6:18 p.m.
Saturday morning, Gravdahl needed just one pitch to break the tie, and Salisbury starting pitcher, sophomore Rachel Johnson, who went all eight innings, retired the side in order in the bottom of the eighth to finish off the game.
The win not only kept the Gulls unbeaten in the tournament, but it also marked the 700th victory in the career of Assistant Coach Tom Stitcher. Stitcher began his coaching career with Salisbury in 1992 and has helped the program to six World Series appearances and 17 Capital Athletic Conference championships.
Salisbury now waits until 4 p.m., today, when it will take the field in the winners' bracket final. The Sea Gulls will take on either Emory University or Piedmont College.