SALISBURY, Md. – The No. 11 Salisbury University softball team picked up a pair of wins on the second day of the Salisbury Invitational on Sunday, topping Clarkson University and The College of New Jersey in a pair of shortened contests, as the theme of the weekend for the Gulls was strong pitching and hot hitting.
Salisbury 8, Clarkson 0 (5 inn.)
Senior Molly Simpson got the offense going in the top of the first of the Sea Gulls' first game of the day, with Salisbury playing as the visiting team. After sophomore LeAnne Collins reached on a bunt single, Simpson extended on a pitch up and out over the plate, driving her second home run of the year over the left-center field fence for the quick 2-0 lead.
Salisbury added two more runs in the inning, taking advantage of a Clarkson error, and the lead would hold up the rest of the way with senior Annah Brittingham and sophomore Annie Pietanza in the circle.
Brittingham allowed just one hit in her three innings of work, striking out a pair, but she would need help to escape a jam in the bottom of the first inning. With the bases loaded and two outs, Liz Caggiano sent a hot shot up the middle. Simpson, the second baseman, dove to get a glove on the ball, and it squirted out toward the second base bag. Shortstop Kim Dorsey quickly scooped up the ball, stepped on second and fired to first base for the inning-ending double play.
The Sea Gulls added three runs in the second, highlighted by RBI singles from Simpson and Knussman, pushing the lead to 7-0.
The lead hit eight runs in the top of the fourth inning when Simpson led things off with a double off the fence in right-center field and came around to score with two outs on a liner to right field from Dorsey.
Pietanza worked the final two innings of the victory, retiring all six batters she faced, striking out three Golden Knights (0-4). Brittingham and Pietanza combined to sit down the final 12 Clarkson batters in order.
Salisbury 8, TCNJ 0 (6 inn.)
The second game of the day started in similar fashion with Collins getting aboard to open the contest on a single that dropped in front of TCNJ center fielder Madison Levine. With one out, senior Paige Knussman drilled a line drive shot to straight-away center field for a two-run home run, her third of the season.
The defense stood up behind freshman pitcher Brooke Mizelle in the top of the second inning to protect the early lead. After a hit batter, an error, and a passed ball put two runners in scoring position with one out, Mizelle recorded one of her six strikeouts on the day, and then got a weak pop just behind the circle off the bat of Deanna Utter. Dorsey charged in, trying to make the play in the air, but was only able to scoop the ball on a short hop. She made a solid throw on the run to get the final out of the inning, stranding the two runners.
The Gulls (6-3) put up two insurance runs in the third inning as Katie Sebbane drove in a pair of runs on a line drive single to right field.
Salisbury added one more run in the fifth for a 5-0 lead, and Mizelle kept the Lions (2-1) at bay throughout the six-inning contest, surrendering just two hits and walking none. Mizelle's effort capped a stellar pitching weekend for Salisbury, as the Gulls did not allow a run in their three wins, surrendering just four hits in that time.
The game came to an end in the bottom of the sixth inning when Collins reached on a single and later came around to score on Simpson's single for a 6-0 lead. The final shot of the game was a two-run home run off Dorsey's bat to left field, finishing off the contest.
Simpson was 5-for-7 in the two games on Sunday, with a double and home run. She drove in five and scored four times. Collins was also 5-for-7, scoring four times, while Knussman and Dorsey each had four hits.
Salisbury will host the Sea Gull Classic next weekend, welcoming Capital University, the State University of New York at New Paltz, and Lynchburg College on Friday and Saturday, March 11 and 12. The Sea Gulls open play in the event with a doubleheader against Capital on Friday at the SU Softball Field.