NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – The No. 1 Salisbury University softball team got out to the best start in program history, picking up an 11-2 win in the first game of a doubleheader, before dropping the second, 2-0, to No. 18 Christopher Newport University at Captains Park on Saturday.
Game one: Salisbury 11, Christopher Newport 2 (6 inn.)
Salisbury opened the game one scoring in the top of the second inning, plating three runs. Sophomore Katie Sebbane got things started with a solo home run to lead off the inning off CNU starter Krista Lewis.
McDowell advanced to second on the throw home, and would score later on a Captain error for the 3-0 lead.
The Sea Gulls expanded the lead in the third inning with four runs on five hits. Sophomore Kim Dorsey began things with a single up the middle and advanced to third on a wild pitch and Paige Knussman's single to right.
Hoey drove in a run in the fourth for an 8-0 lead before the Captains became the first team to get to Salisbury starter Rachel Johnson for the first time all year.
In the fifth, Christopher Newport put together two hits, to push across two runs, the first earned runs surrendered by the Salisbury junior this season.
The two runs were not enough as the Gulls would add three runs in the sixth, highlighted by Knussman's two-run single. Johnson shut down the Captains through the rest of the game, giving up just one walk and striking out 13 in the contest, her eighth victory of the year.
Knussman was 3-for-4 in the game, while four other Sea Gulls had two hits in the contest.
The win for Salisbury was the 15th consecutive to open the season, giving the Sea Gulls the program's best start, topping the 14-0 opening to the 1999 campaign. The game also marked the first home loss for the Captains, who entered the day 10-0 at Captains Park.
Game two: Christopher Newport 2, Salisbury 0
In the second game, the two pitchers controlled the game through the majority of the contest. The Sea Gulls failed to get a runner into scoring position against Christopher Newport starter Makayla Jenkins until the third inning, but had their best chances to score late in the game.
Salisbury senior Kathryn Larson kept the CNU bats at bay, as well, keeping the Captains off the scoreboard until the fifth inning. The Frederick, Md., native worked through a few tight situations early in the game. In the first, Christopher Newport put runners at first and second with a pair of two-out hits, but Larson got a groundout to end the threat.
It was the first of four innings in which Larson worked out of situations with two runners on base. She scattered nine hits of 4 1/3 innings in the contest.
Salisbury's best chance to break the scoreless tie came in the top of the fourth inning when Knussman led off the frame with a single to center field.
Gigioli pinch ran for Knussman and was moved into scoring position on Sebbane's bunt before getting to third on a wild pitch, with one out. But a strikeout and a fly out ended the threat.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, it was the Captains (17-5) who broke the tie. Sabrina Hill led off the inning with a chopper behind the second base bag, and advanced on a groundout. After Larson got another grounder, with Hill still at second, Taylor Dillow came up with the game-winning hit, a sharp grounder just inside the first base bag, allowing Hill to score from second.
The Captains scored an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth off Johnson, who came on in relief in the fifth, and Salisbury was retired in order in the seventh.
Salisbury (15-1) will be back in action on Thursday, March 27, traveling to Chestertown, Md., to take on Washington (Md.) College in a doubleheader, beginning at 2:30 p.m.