SALISBURY, Md. – The No. 4 Salisbury University softball team hits the field today looking for a win to send the squad back to the super regional round of the NCAA Division III softball tournament. The Sea Gulls take on No. 10 Virginia Wesleyan College in the double-elimination event at 11 a.m.
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The Sea Gulls and Marlins each won their first game of the regional tournament, against McDaniel College, eliminating the Green Terror. Salisbury got a one-hit shutout from senior pitcher Rachel Johnson in a 4-0 win, while the offense was highlighted by junior Paige Knussman's 20th home run of her career, a two-run shot in the seventh inning. The Marlins scored early and often in their 11-1 win in five innings, seeing Kayla Malkos and Blake Henderson each drive in three runs.
The results left Salisbury and Virginia Wesleyan, making the remainder of the regional a best-of-three series. Salisbury drew the first win, 4-0, with Johnson again tossing a shutout, this time allowing just three hits. Junior Molly Simpson came up with the big hit, a two-run single in the first inning to put Salisbury ahead for good.
Stopping the run
Stopping the run is a key in football and against Virginia Wesleyan softball. Head Coach Brandon Elliott does not hold his base runners back, putting pressure on opposing defenses. The Marlins entered the regional averaging 3.40 stolen bases per game, which was top in the nation. Against McDaniel yesterday, Virginia Wesleyan swiped six bases, but were unable to do so against the Sea Gulls, not attempting a steal.
Climbing the list
Juniors Kim Dorsey and Knussman have been climbing the Salisbury career home run list this season. Dorsey has blasted nine home runs this season, which brings her career total to 24, ranked ninth in program history, while Knussman's 20 long balls are 11th. The Easton, Maryland native needs just two more to crack the top 10.
Johnson started both games yesterday for the Sea Gulls, and her next start will mark the 100th of her collegiate career. She has amassed some incredible career records, including an NCAA all-division record-tying seven perfect games. She's also struck out 1,021 batters, the second-highest total in program history.
The winner of the Salisbury, Maryland Regional will advance to a best-of-three super regional next weekend, taking on the team that advances out of this weekend's Newport News, Virginia Regional, hosted by Christopher Newport University.