NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – The No. 1 Salisbury University softball team and No. 13 Christopher Newport University waited hours for rain to clear the area and the field at Christopher Newport to be prepared before the Capital Athletic Conference championship Saturday could begin and the Captains were able to pull the upset to claim the CAC title, 3-2, in eight innings.
The teams split solo home runs in the first four innings and the Captains threatened to win it in the bottom of the seventh, but strong defense by Salisbury (33-3) sent the game to extra innings.
Kristina McLaughlin reached on a one-out single up the middle in the seventh, but was erased when Sabrina Hill grounded to shortstop Kim Dorsey, who went to Molly Simpson at second base for the second out of the inning.
The next batter, Karlee Holzbach sent a bloop single to right field and Hill turned for third, but a perfect throw from Angela Malgieri gunned down the would-be go-ahead run at third sending the game to extra innings.
On a 1-and-0 pitch, leading off the eighth inning, senior Harley Hill found a good time to come up with her first home run of the year, golfing a pitch that was down and in to right field for the solo home run and a 2-1 lead.
Salisbury would get a potential insurance run into scoring position when Dorsey reached base on a fielder's choice and advanced to second on a wild pitch by CNU starter Makayla Jenkins. Dorsey tried to score on Katie Sebbane's single through the left side, but was thrown out at the plate to end the inning.
The Captains (35-6) rallied in the bottom of the eighth, started by Jenna Sprinkle's one-out single. Hanah Marshall would pinch run and Taylor Dillow pinch hit for Christopher Newport.
Dillow worked the count against Salisbury junior Rachel Johnson to 2-and-2 before she connected on a walk-off home run to left-center field, giving the Captains the CAC championship in their first year in the league.
Salisbury would get the first base runner of the day, on a second-inning two-out walk by junior catcher Rebecca Hoey, but the frame would end with the next batter, Malgieri, grounding out to Jenkins.
The Captains would get their first base runner in the bottom of the second as Hill worked an eight-pitch at-bat before muscling a ball to left field for a leadoff single. Hill was thrown out trying to steal second base by Hoey, the fourth base runner the junior has gunned down this year. It turned out to be a key play as moments later, Tori Clarke connected on a full-count pitch with two outs for a solo home run just over the left field fence for a 1-0 Christopher Newport lead.
Salisbury would draw even in the top of the fourth when Sebbane drove a full-count pitch that was up in the zone out to straight-away center field, tying the game at 1-1.
Johnson retired 14-straight batters from the second into the seventh inning before the Captains would come up with the late-game heroics to claim the title.
Salisbury will play one final regular-season doubleheader, at Stevenson University, next Sunday, April 27, before the NCAA tournament begins in early May.