March 9, 2014

Softball sweeps Lynchburg to begin season 10-0

SALISBURY, Md. – The No. 3 Salisbury University softball team earn a doubleheader sweep of Lynchburg College on Sunday, completing a 6-0 weekend at the SU Softball Field.

Game 1: Salisbury 2, Lynchburg 0

With the teams combining to win their previous 17 games entering Sunday, close games were expected and the first contest lived up to it with neither team forming a threat until the fourth inning.

The Hornets had the first strong scoring chance in the top of the fourth, taking advantage of a leadoff walk, a wind-blown single and a Salisbury error to load the bases with one out. But Salisbury starting pitcher Rachel Johnson calmly put down Nicole Riley and Amber Ingram on strikes to escape the jam unscathed. The base hit, a fly ball that appeared destined for foul territory was blown back into fair ground and fell for a single, was one of just four hits allowed by Johnson in 18 innings of work over the weekend.

Salisbury would escape the inning and put their own pressure on in the home half of the frame as sophomore shortstop Kim Dorsey reached out for a pitch low and away with two strikes and drove a grounder up the middle for a leadoff single.

After a pitching change, a pop out and then an outstanding diving catch in center field by Nicole Shipp to rob Katie Sebbane of a hit, Dorsey was still at first with two outs. Catcher Rebecca Hoey popped a ball to second base, but the ball was dropped, giving the Gulls runners at the corners with two outs. But Lynchburg pitcher Elizabeth Fioretti got a grounder to get out of the inning.

The Hornets would only avoid the Salisbury bats for so long as Salisbury pushed across the game's only runs in the bottom of the fifth.

Two quick outs had Fioretti in the driver's seat, but senior Harley Hill got things going for Salisbury with a single up the middle and would advance to second when sophomore Rachel Spadin's slow roller behind second base was scooped up by the shortstop Riley, but she had no play. Fioretti worked around Dorsey to load the bases and designated player Paige Knussman sent a line shot to right-center field scoring Hill and Spadin for the 2-0 lead.

Johnson would allow just one base runner in the next two innings, a two-out single in the sixth, to secure the win, her fifth of the year. Johnson struck out a season-high 15 in the victory.

Game 2: Salisbury 11, Lynchburg 3 (5 inn.)

In the second game, the scoring went back and forth early before Salisbury (10-0) pulled away to push its season-opening winning streak to 10 games.

The Hornets struck first in the second contest, getting to starting pitcher Kathryn Larson for a pair of hits, including a run-scoring single from Kayla St. John in the top of the first.

The lead was short lived as Salisbury came back for three runs in the bottom of the first. Hill opened the inning with a walk, but was erased on Spadin's fielder's choice. Spadin moved to third on a pair of wild pitches and after a walk to Dorsey, a single by Knussman gave the Gulls the lead. Knussman's liner to right field got under the glove of Danielle Powell and rolled to the fence, allowing both runners to score and Knussman to reach third.

Knussman would score on Hoey's double to center for a 3-1 lead.

After a Salisbury error and a bunt single in the top of the third, the Hornets were able to draw even with a two-run double to left-center field off the bat of St. John, tying the game, 3-3.

Salisbury would take the lead for good in the bottom of the third when Dorsey opened things with a one-out double. She advanced to third on a Knussman single and came home with the go-ahead run on Sebbane's chopper through the left side for the 4-3 lead.

Salisbury put up three runs in the third, to pull ahead, 6-3, and added three more in the fourth, including Knussman's second home run of the year, a two-run shot to left. Knussman would finish the game with a two-run single in the bottom of the fifth.

Knussman finished the contest 4-for-4 with five runs driven in, while Dorsey was 2-for-2, scoring three times. The pair dominated every pitching staff they faced in six games this weekend. Dorsey finished the three days with an .813 batting average (13-of-16), with six extra-base hits and 10 runs scored. Knussman was 12-of-17 with a pair of home runs and 11 runs driven in.

Larson picked up the win, working three innings and striking out a pair, while Johnson came on in the fourth inning, giving up a pair of hits in two innings, while striking out three to notch her second save of the year.

The Sea Gulls will be off until Friday, when they host the State University of New York at New Paltz and Capital University in the Salisbury Invitational.

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