SALISBURY, Md. – The No. 5 Salisbury University softball team claimed the program's 19th Capital Athletic Conference championship on Saturday, topping No. 8 Christopher Newport University in a pitchers' duel, 2-1.
All of the scoring came in the first inning before the pitchers and defenses took over for the final six. Salisbury senior Annah Brittingham and Christopher Newport junior Tara Heatwole each went the distance in the contest.
Christopher Newport got to Brittingham for just five hits in the game, but only one scored a run, when Scoop Simon lifted a 1-and-1 pitch in the first inning to left field for a solo home run, and a 1-0 lead for the Captains (34-7).
The shot came after Brittingham had struck out the first two batters of the inning. She would finish with seven punch outs in the game.
Salisbury answered back in the bottom of the first inning, scoring twice on a pair of hits. With one out, senior Molly Simpson reached on a single, but was erased on classmate Paige Knussman's groundout.
With two outs, Brittingham reached on an error, bringing up senior Kim Dorsey. The Baltimore native saw her count even at 2-and-2 before she went the opposite way, driving a ball to right field, which turned CNU right fielder Rachael Shiflett around. The ball caromed off the fence, allowing the two runs to score, making it 2-1 – a lead the Sea Gulls would not relinquish.
In the top of the third, the Captains threatened, getting the first two batters on base, but Brittingham got a liner to Simpson at second base, which she snared and flipped to Kristen Yanarella at first base for the double play. A pop up would end the threat.
Christopher Newport had runners on base in all but the second inning, making noise again in the fifth. An error, an infield single, and a walk loaded the bases with one out, but a line out and a grounder, both taken by Simpson, ended that chance.
The sixth again brought anxious moments for the Gulls with Christopher Newport putting runners on first and second with one out. The Captains had speed on base, with two pinch runners, and attempted a double steal, but Knussman, the Salisbury catcher gunned down Meagan Jones at third base, throwing out her third would-be base stealer of the year. On the next pitch, Brittingham recorded a strikeout, getting Brittney Walters looking to end the inning.
The Captains put the potential tying run on in the seventh, with two outs, but a soft grounder to Yanarella at first ended the championship game.
It is the first CAC title for the Sea Gulls in three years, ending the Captains' two-year run as conference champions. With the win, Salisbury earns the Capital Athletic Conference's automatic bid into next month's NCAA Division III Softball Tournament.