NORFOLK, Va. – The No. 2 Salisbury University softball team forced an extra game on Sunday at the Norfolk, Virginia regional of the 2016 NCAA Division III Softball Tournament taking on Haverford College, but after winning the opener 5-1, Salisbury suffered a 7-6 defeat to see the 2016 season come to a close.
Game 1: Salisbury 5, Haverford 1
Salisbury struggled in a 1-0 loss on Friday against Haverford starting pitcher Sara Tauriello, managing just two hits against her in six innings. As the Fords came back with Tauriello on Sunday, the Sea Gulls had made adjustments and were ready, notching a pair of hits in the first three innings before breaking through in the top of the fourth inning.
Salisbury got on the board with one swing of the bat as Annah Brittingham ripped a triple to right-center field, and came around to score on the play when the cut-off throw from Haverford shortstop Rachel Wolfson got away.
The run and a base hit moments later from Kim Dorsey drove Tauriello from the game, bringing on Kendall Chandler in relief.
The lead would only last until the bottom of the inning when the Fords drew even by taking advantage of a lead-off walk by Julia Blake. With two outs, a wild pitch moved Blake to second and she scored on a double off the bat of Jessica Koshinski, just the second hit of the day against Brittingham, who got the start in the circle for the Gulls.
Salisbury would force the Fords to strand Koshinski in scoring position when third baseman Katie Sebbane came up with a grounder and fired across the diamond for the final out of the inning.
The Sea Gulls were not done offensively, scoring the winning run in the top of the fifth, coming up with three hits off Chandler starting with a one-out single from sophomore LeAnne Collins. Collins reached scoring position on Molly Simpson's single up the middle and Paige Knussman drove a ball through the left side to score Collins for the 2-1 lead.
The Salisbury offense put three insurance runs up in the sixth inning for freshman Brooke Mizelle, who came on in relief of Brittingham for the final three innings, scattering four hits to collect her third save of the year.
Collins drove in two of the sixth-inning runs with a single to right field and Simpson's groundout brought home one more.
Game 2: Haverford 7, Salisbury 6
In the second game, it was the Fords that grabbed the quick lead, scoring twice in the top of the first inning. Haverford (27-20) came up with three hits against Mizelle in the frame to jump out to the 2-0 lead, which held until the third inning.
In the bottom of the third, Salisbury drew even, scoring the first run before the Fords could record an out. Collins walked before Simpson finished off a 10-pitch at-bat by slicing a single down the right-field line. Her hit moved Collins to third, and Knussman singled up the middle to make it 2-1, with Simpson making it to third on the play.
Dorsey stepped to the plate and lifted a fly ball to right field, which was deep enough to allow Simpson to scamper home and score standing to tie the game.
The Fords did the majority of their damage in the fifth inning, scoring four times on three hits with the benefit of a pair of Sea Gull errors and came up with one more in the top of the sixth for a 7-2 lead.
Salisbury cut into the Haverford lead in the bottom of the sixth inning. With one out, Brittingham ripped a single to left field and came around to score from first base on Dorsey's double that was laced into the left-center field gap.
Sebbane walked and Annie Pietanza ripped a ball off the pitcher's glove for an infield single to load the bases before Kristen Yanarella and Caitlin Lake were each hit by pitches to earn RBIs, cutting the deficit to 7-5.
The Fords put two runners on in the seventh, but could not push a run across as Pietanza worked the final three innings in the circle for Salisbury.
In the bottom of the seventh, Salisbury got one run back, but could not draw even. Knussman was hit by a pitch before Brittingham bounced a ball through the left side. Dorsey's shot up the middle scored Knussman, to make it 7-6, still with no outs.
After a pitching change, Sebbane drove a ball to third base, but Emily Gorman was there to field the ball right at the bag, stepping on the base and firing across the diamond for the double play, and a strikeout ended the game.
Six Sea Gulls were named to the All-Tournament team with Brittingham, Collins, Dorsey, Knussman, Mizelle, and Simpson earning the honor.
The loss closes out the careers of a stellar senior class of Brittingham, Dorsey, Knussman, Sebbane, Simpson, Rachel Spadin. Five of the six players spent the past four years in maroon and gold, with all six being starters in the past two years.
Over the past four seasons, the program has won two Capital Athletic Conference titles, qualified for the NCAA tournament each year and advanced to the NCAA championship round three times.