TYLER, Texas – Two games into the NCAA Division III Softball Championship, and the No. 4 Salisbury University softball team has yet to give up a run, earning its second shutout in as many days with a 5-0 victory against No. 20 University of Wisconsin-Whitewater on Friday afternoon.
The Sea Gulls (42-3) earned a key day off with the win, advancing to the semifinals on Sunday afternoon, and did so with a little more breathing room on Friday. Following a 1-0 win in the opener on Thursday, Salisbury grabbed an early 1-0 lead against the Warhawks (38-12) in the first inning and put up four more in the third.
After a 1-2-3 inning in the top of the first, where Salisbury starting pitcher Rachel Johnson recorded a pair of strikeouts, the Sea Gulls got the key early run.
With one out, senior Angelia McDowell walked, but was erased on a fielder's choice, allowing sophomore Kim Dorsey to reach base. Facing a 2-and-2 count, with two outs, sophomore Paige Knussman ripped a double to right field, allowing Dorsey to come around with the go-ahead run.
It marks the second-straight game where Knussman has forced in the winning run.
In the bottom of the third, Salisbury got Johnson some insurance runs in an explosive inning, coming up with three hits off Whitewater starter Kelynn Sporer.
Sporer got the first two outs of the inning before Salisbury could get a runner on when Dorsey ripped a double, on a 3-and-0 pitch, to right-center field and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Knussman drew a walk and Salisbury doubled its lead on sophomore Katie Sebbane's single up the middle to plate Dorsey.
The Salisbury bats were not done as junior catcher Rebecca Hoey drilled a three-run home run, her seventh long ball of the season, putting the Sea Gulls up 5-0.
The five-run cushion was plenty for Johnson, who held one of the top offensive teams in the nation to just five hits, while walking none and striking out 10. The Warhawks did not get a runner on base until a leadoff double in the fourth inning by Mimi Ramirez, and no Whitewater runner would reach third base in the contest.
With the win, Salisbury advances to the semifinal round which will not happen until Sunday at 1 p.m., eastern time. The Sea Gulls will take on the winner of an elimination game between No. 12 Montclair State University and No. 13 University of St. Thomas (Minn.), which Salisbury defeated, 1-0, in each team's first game of the tournament.