TYLER, Texas – It took extra innings to do so, but the No. 4 Salisbury University softball team advanced to the final two at the NCAA Division III Softball Championship with a 3-2 win on Sunday over the University of St. Thomas (Minn.).
It marks the third time the Sea Gulls have been a finalist for a softball title, though they were unable to secure the championship in 2003 and 2005.
The Tommies (44-9) would get on the board first, plating a run in the bottom of the third inning when Jenna Hoffman singled with two outs, and a Sea Gull throwing error would allow Kirstin Bigelbach to score from second base.
The unearned run was the first that Salisbury had surrendered at the championship tournament, and it marked the first deficit the Sea Gulls have faced since April 19 in the Capital Athletic Conference tournament.
The Sea Gulls (43-3) would come back with single runs in the fourth and fifth innings to take a 2-1 lead.
In the fourth, sophomore Kim Dorsey tripled to open the inning and scored easily on classmate Paige Knussman's double to left-center field to tie the game. A walk and a single would load the bases with no outs, but the Gulls could not push another run across.
Knussman was able to get it done again in the fifth inning, with another double, this time with two outs, putting the Sea Gulls on top, 2-1, plating senior Angelia McDowell.
St. Thomas was able to string together three of its eight hits in the game in the bottom of the sixth, to tie the game. A two-out single by Erin Mussett plated Bianca Peterson to tie the game off Salisbury starting pitcher Rachel Johnson.
Johnson would surrender just one more hit, that coming in the eighth inning, before the Sea Gulls would come through with the game winner in the top of the ninth inning.
Johnson would sacrifice the runners into scoring position and an intentional walk to Harley Hill loaded the bases. After a strikeout, Dorsey came up with the hit that would send the Sea Gulls on unbeaten in the tournament, a single to left field, scoring Malgieri for the 3-2 lead.
Johnson would retire the side in order in the bottom of the ninth to finish the win. She struck out seven in the victory, while walking just one. Dorsey and Knussman were each 2-for-5 in the game.
Salisbury will play the Jumbos of Tufts University on Monday, in what has essentially become a best-of-three championship series. Tufts, the defending national champion, is also undefeated in the double-elimination event, following an 8-0 win, in five innings, against the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater on Sunday.
The teams will play two games, beginning at 2 p.m., eastern time, on Monday. If the squads split the two games, the title game will take place on Tuesday at 1 p.m., eastern time.