SALEM, Va. – The No. 4 Salisbury University softball team has arrived as one of the final four teams in the nation, as the NCAA Division III Softball Championship is down to the semifinal round. The Sea Gulls take the field at 12 p.m., on Sunday, May 24 against No. 2 University of Texas-Tyler looking to advance to the championship series.
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Today's schedule features a possibility of two games between the teams. UT-Tyler, having gone unbeaten through the championship, needs just one win to eliminate Salisbury, which has lost once; while Salisbury would need two wins against the Patriots to move on. The second game, if necessary on Sunday, is scheduled for 5 p.m.
How we got here
Salisbury took its first loss of the championship on Friday night, falling to No. 1 Tufts University, but the Sea Gulls rebounded, with a 2-0 win against Kean University, eliminating the Cougars, on Saturday afternoon. Senior pitcher Rachel Johnson rolled through the Kean lineup, allowing just two base runners and only one base hit, a bunt single in the seventh. Molly Simpson drove in both runs for the Sea Gulls, scoring junior Annah Brittingham with two outs in both the fourth and sixth innings.
How they got here
Texas-Tyler won its first two games of the championship, taking a pair of one-run wins. The Patriots topped Kean in their opener, 1-0, scoring an unearned run in the fifth inning, and then took down Linfield College, 2-1, on Friday. With the two wins, UT-Tyler earned the day off on Saturday before returning to action on today.
Today's first game will mark the first contest between the two programs.
The Patriots are one of the top offensive teams in the country, entering the NCAA championship with the top team batting average and on-base percentage in the nation, as well as the second-ranked scoring offense. UT-Tyler is paced offensively by five players batting over .400 on the season, led by Jackie Mendez' .437 average. However, the Patriots are batting just .196 through two games in Salem.
Kelsie Batten has started 34 games in the circle this season for the Patriots, posting a 29-3 record with a 1.12 ERA, while striking out 139 in 188 innings. This week, she has allowed just seven hits and struck out four in her 14 innings of work at the championship.
Sweep to play again
Salisbury needs what is essentially a doubleheader sweep today against the Patriots to continue the season. The Sea Gulls played 14 doubleheaders in the 2015 season, sweeping 11, splitting two, and getting swept once.
The team that advances today will open the best-of-three championship series on Monday, May 25, against either Tufts University or Linfield College. Those two teams square off today in the same scenario that Salisbury and UT-Tyler face, with the Jumbos of top-ranked Tufts the unbeaten team, needing one win, while Linfield needs a pair of victories to advance.
The championship series will begin with the first two games on Monday. The third game, if necessary, will be played on Tuesday.