Softball sweeps season opening games against Cortland, TCNJ; Johnson tosses ninth no-hitter

Softball sweeps season opening games against Cortland, TCNJ; Johnson tosses ninth no-hitter

SALISBURY, Md. – The No. 2 Salisbury University softball team was forced to wait for its season opener due weather issues on multiple occasions, but the Sea Gulls made the most of their opportunity on Sunday, picking up victories against The State University of New York at Cortland and The College of New Jersey at the SU Softball Field.

Salisbury 1, Cortland 0

The opener for the Sea Gulls was played in Salisbury's favor throughout, as the Sea Gulls picked up seven hits in the game, but needed to wait for the only run until the late innings, but senior pitcher Rachel Johnson had the offense covered, tossing the program's 45th no-hitter in the 1-0 win.

Johnson started the season strong in the circle, recording the first nine outs of the game by strikeout, without a ball being put in play by the Red Dragons (0-2) until the fourth inning. Cortland saw just one base runner; that coming on a walk in the second inning.

The Salisbury hurler never let a runner reach scoring position and struck out 13 in the complete-game effort grabbing her ninth solo no-hitter, tying Erika Brittingham for the most in program history.

Salisbury would take a few innings to get on the scoreboard, despite early chances. Freshman LeAnne Collins made the most of her first collegiate at-bat, lacing a pitch up in the zone to the left-center field gap for a one-out double before stealing third base in the first inning. But Salisbury would strand two runners.

Salisbury left runners in scoring position in each of the first three innings, but would break through in the sixth.

Junior Kim Dorsey opened things with a sharp single through the left side before advancing to second on a sacrifice bunt and moving up to third on junior Rebecca Hoey's bloop single down the right field line.

Annie Pietanza pinch ran for Hoey, and with Sea Gulls at the corners, junior Molly Simpson drove in the game-winning run. Simpson hit a chopper up the middle, which glanced off the glove of Cortland pitcher Alexandrea Flint, and second baseman Rosie Phillips could not handle the ball. All of the runners were safe as Dorsey scored from third.

SALISBURY 12, TCNJ 1 (5 inn.)

The Sea Gulls left little doubt in the second game of the day, jumping out to a 6-0 lead through just one inning of play against TCNJ, and rolling to the 12-1 win. Salisbury recorded five hits in the opening frame, with the aid of an early Lion error and a walk.

Junior Paige Knussman drove home the game's first run, sending Collins home with a fielder's choice to second base, and choppers that would find their way through the infield off the bats of Katie Sebbane and Hoey pushed the lead to 3-0.

Andie McGregor, in her first collegiate at-bat, singled to bring home Hoey, while Angela Malgieri and Collins each drove home a run in the inning, as well.

Salisbury would pick up 11 hits in the game and score in each offensive inning, including three in the fourth, handing the big lead to junior pitcher Annah Brittingham, who impressed in her Sea Gull debut.

The Pocomoke, Maryland native allowed just one base runner into scoring position in the first four innings and carried a no-hitter of her own into the fifth, but a soft liner to right, that dropped just under the glove of an on-rushing Malgieri, gave the Lions the only hit against Sea Gull pitching on the day.

Brittingham struck out 10 in her five innings of work, while surrendering one unearned run along the way.

Collins, Dorsey, and Sebbane led Salisbury's offensive push on the day, with three hits each in the two games; Dorsey and Collins both scored twice, as well.

The Sea Gulls are next scheduled to be in action this Tuesday, March 10 traveling to No. 10 Virginia Wesleyan College for a doubleheader slated to begin at 2 p.m.

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