Two wins gives Sea Gulls chance at 19th CAC title

Two wins gives Sea Gulls chance at 19th CAC title

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – The No. 7 Salisbury University softball team advanced to the final day of the Capital Athletic Conference tournament by beating fourth-seeded University of Mary Washington, 6-2, before topping third-seeded Frostburg State University, 12-3, getting some revenge while snapping a two-game skid to the Bobcats on Friday.

With the wins, Salisbury will need to beat top-seeded host Christopher Newport University twice on Saturday to take the CAC title.

Game 1: Salisbury 6, Mary Washington 2

Salisbury got the first base runner, in the bottom of the first inning, with freshman LeAnne Collins drilling a double to straightaway center field with one out. Junior Annah Brittingham did not miss out on her opportunity, coming up with a two-out single up the middle, just beyond the glove of the diving second baseman Alex Tenney allowing Collins to come home with the first run of the game.

Mary Washington would get two base runners on against starting pitcher Rachel Johnson in the top of the second, with Johnson striking out Hannah Otterman, but the third strike got away from catcher Rebebba Hoey, allowing Otterman to reach on the passed ball. The next batter, Olivia Tatara came up with a one-out single up the middle, but the runners would be stranded when Johnson struck out the next two batters to escape the jam.

Salisbury opened things up in the third inning, when Kim Dorsey reached on a single up the middle and Paige Knussman followed with a bloop single to center field, extending her hitting streak to 16 games. Brittingham would drive in her second run of the game, with a hard-hit ball back to Otterman. The ball was hit too hard for Otterman to handle and deflected toward second base, far enough away for Dorsey to score from second for the 2-0 lead. A Mary Washington error allowed Knussman to come home, pushing the lead to three runs.

The next batter, Katie Sebbane drilled a three-run home run to left field, her third of the year, to put the score at 6-0.

The Eagles got a run in the fourth when Hannah Hautz connected for a solo home run, but it was all Mary Washington could do against Johnson, who surrendered just four hits while striking out 11 in the first four innings before giving way to Brittingham. Brittingham allowed a run and recorded a pair of outs in the fifth before getting in a jam with two runners on, and Johnson returned to the circle to get her 11th strikeout to end the inning, preserving the 6-2 lead.

Johnson would allow just one base runner in the final two innings to seal the victory, sending the Sea Gulls to the afternoon game. The senior pitcher struck out a season-high-tying 15 batters in the game, while Collins and Brittingham each had two hits.

Game 2: Salisbury 12, Frostburg State 3

After falling to Frostburg 4-0 in their first game of the conference tournament on Thursday, the Sea Gulls rebounded in the rematch with big third and fourth innings to advance to the CAC championship with a 12-3 victory.

Frostburg struck first in the bottom half of the first inning, scoring on a wild pitch, followed by an RBI single by Lauren Caprece.

The Bobcats added to the lead on a solo home run in the second to make the score 3-0, but Salisbury responded in the top half of the third and needed only one swing of the bat to take the lead.

Sebbane led off the inning with a single down the left-field line for the team's first hit, and the bases were loaded after junior Rachel Spadin reached on a Frostburg error and Collins walked, bringing Knussman to the plate. Knussman quickly turned the tides, blasting a grand slam over the left-field wall to take a 4-3 lead on her seventh home run of the year to tie for the team lead.

Brittingham continued the inning with a walk, before senior Rebecca Hoey found a gap in left field for a double to put runners on second and third. Junior Molly Simpson came to the plate and drove a single into right field to score both runners and add to the advantage for a 6-3 score.

After Johnson, making her second start of the day, set down the Bobcats in order in their half of the third, Salisbury continued its offensive surge in the fourth. Reloading the bases on a walk by senior Angela Malgieri, a single by Dorsey, and a walk by Collins, Knussman drove in Malgieri on a sacrifice fly for her fifth RBI of the game.

In the next at-bat, Brittingham stepped up and broke the game open with a three-run home run, her fourth long ball of the year, to give Salisbury a 10-3 lead.

Frostburg got two runners on to start its half of the fourth, on a walk and a single, but Johnson clamped down to get the next three batters, including one strikeout, and keep the seven-run lead for Salisbury into the fifth.

Scoring in its final three offensive innings, Salisbury tallied two more runs in the fifth to cap the win. After, Sebbane singled and Malgieri walked to lead things off, Spadin used a sacrifice bunt to advance the runners to second and third.

Dorsey came up and hit a sacrifice fly to center to score the first run, before Collins came up and lined a single into center to make the score 12-3.

After Johnson got the first two outs in the bottom half of the fifth, Renay Aubel singled in an effort to start a late rally, but Johnson forced a ground out to Sebbane at third on the following at-bat for the third out to take the game.

Knussman paced the team with her five RBIs, while Brittingham drove in three of her own, and Sebbane led the team with two hits, going 2-for-3 with a run scored.

Johnson notched her second win of the day, pitching the complete five innings and striking out five.

With the two wins, Salisbury advances to the CAC championship on Saturday, April 18 to face the host and top-seeded Captains of Christopher Newport. The Sea Gulls will need to win twice on Saturday to collect the championship. The first game is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m.

 

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