WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senior Rachel Johnson further solidified her spot as one of most dominant pitchers in the history of Division III softball, surpassing the 1,000-strikeout mark for her career as the No. 9 Salisbury University softball team closed out the regular season with a pair of 4-0 wins in a doubleheader sweep at Catholic University of America.
Game 1: Salisbury 4, Catholic 0
Johnson got the start in the opener, and would be dominant throughout, striking out 15 in the contest, and ending the game in style, notching her 15th strikeout and the 1,000th of her career to finish of the one-hit shutout.
The first Cardinal runner did not reach base until after the Preston, Maryland native had sat down the first 17 batters in order, getting aboard thanks to a two-out error in the sixth, but Johnson would strand the runner on first with her 14th strikeout of the game.
By that time, Salisbury had established a 2-0 lead with the Sea Gulls scoring single runs in the third and fifth innings.
In the third, junior Kim Dorsey singled up the middle to open the inning before advancing to second on a groundout. A single to right first by junior Paige Knussman brought home Dorsey for the opening run.
Junior Katie Sebbane reached on a walk with one out in the fifth before another walk moved her to scoring position and junior Annah Brittingham singled to load the bases. Another walk, this time to senior Rebecca Hoey, forced home Pietanza for the 2-0 lead.
Salisbury added two more runs in the top of the seventh after the Sea Gulls loaded the bases with a Hoey walk and singles by freshman Kristen Yanarella and senior Angela Malgieri. Junior Rachel Spadin came up with a two-run single, scoring Hoey and sophomore Caitlin Lake, who came on as a pinch runner.
The Cardinals would come up with nothing more than a leadoff double against Johnson in the bottom of the seventh inning, but the runner would advance only to third base, as Johnson got a line out, fly out and strikeout number 1,000 to close out the win, her 21st of the season.
With the final out of the game, Johnson became just the 18th player in Division III history to reach the 1,000-strikeout milestone.
Game 2: Salisbury 4, Catholic 0
The second game's offense was all about Sebbane, who was responsible for all four runs for Salisbury (30-6) in the nightcap.
The Frederick, Maryland native got the offense going in the second, after Lake, Malgieri and Dorsey singled to load the bases with one out. Sebbane came up with a two-run single to right field, for the 2-0 lead.
In the fourth inning, Malgieri reached on a Cardinal (17-15) error to open the inning and advanced to second on a passed ball before Sebbane lifted a ball to right field, which was dropped, allowing Malgieri to come home.
Sebbane capped the Salisbury scoring in the top of the seventh inning, with a leadoff, solo home run, her sixth home run of the year.
The four-run lead was good for Brittingham, who started the second game in the circle, and Johnson, who came on in relief to combine for the squad's 13th shutout of the year.
Brittingham worked the first 5 1/3 innings, scattering five hits while striking out five. Brittingham walked just two, while allowing no more than two base runners in any inning, benefitting from a pair of double plays, to earn her ninth win of the year.
Johnson came on in the bottom of the sixth, with a runner on first, but ended the threat, preserving the 3-0 lead before Sebbane's solo home run, and retired the side in order in the seventh for her first save of the year.
The Sea Gulls now await the announcement of the NCAA tournament field on Monday, May 4, to see if they've earned an at-large bid to the field.