SALISBURY, Md. – The Salisbury University softball team celebrated Senior Day on Saturday, recognizing its two seniors just before taking on Capital Athletic Conference rival Christopher Newport University in the Sea Gulls' final home CAC games of the year, splitting the doubleheader.
Game 1: Salisbury 9, Christopher Newport 3
The Captains took the early lead, getting three runs in the top of the first on a three-run double by Brittney Walters, but they would turn out to be the only runs surrendered by junior pitcher Rachael Milligan in her complete-game effort.
The Salisbury offense rebounded for Milligan, cutting into the deficit in the home half of the first inning.
Junior LeAnne Collins drove a single to right field and moved up on a sacrifice bunt before scoring on Caitlin Lake's single to center field. Collins made a slide around the attempted tag of Christopher Newport catcher Calah Savage to get the Sea Gulls' first run of the game.
The 3-2 lead held through the top of the third inning thanks to a stellar play by Collins in right field. Jenna Sprinkle sliced a ball to right-center field with two outs and a runner on first base. Collins got a good jump on the play, and laid out to make the diving catch to end the inning.
The defense kept coming up big, with two strong plays in the fourth. Junior Kristen Yanarella charged in on a soft foul ball, making a diving catch for the out and the frame ended when catcher Emily Allen threw out Rachael Shiflett trying to steal second base.
The defense held the lead long enough for the Salisbury offense to take the lead in the bottom of the fifth inning when the team exploded for seven runs. After Lake singled to right field, Pietanza came up and gave the Gulls their first lead of the day.
The junior turned on a 1-and-2 pitch on the inner half of the plate, carrying over the left-field fence for a two-run home run and a 5-4 lead.
The two hits were the first of seven in the inning as Courtney Tate and Collins each had two-run hits later in the inning, putting Salisbury ahead 9-3. Collins' run-scoring hit was a triple to the right-center field gap, the 10th of her career, which moves her into a tie for third in program history.
Lake was 4-for-4 in the game, while Pietanza had three hits, and Collins, Yanarella, and Kaila Beach each had two.
Milligan gave up just four hits as she collected her eighth win of the year.
Game 2: Christopher Newport 10, Salisbury 5
After seeing the Captains get three runs in the top of the first in the second game, Salisbury (18-14, 7-3 CAC) got one run back in the home half. Collins got it going with an infield single and a bunt moved her into scoring position, allowing her to come home when Lake's pop up fell just into fair territory down the right field line.
Christopher Newport (24-8, 9-1 CAC) got two more runs in the second before Salisbury chipped away with a run in the bottom of the second on an RBI single from Brooke Yerger.
Salisbury put runners on base in all seven innings, registering 11 hits in the contest, while getting the benefit of five Captain errors. In the second game of the day, the big hit eluded Salisbury, as the Sea Gulls stranded 12 runners on base.
The Captains held a 10-2 lead heading to the bottom of the sixth inning, as Salisbury was able to rally for three runs to close the game. Beach belted her second home run of the year, a solo shot to center field, in the sixth inning and Pietanza's sacrifice fly brought home Collins. The final run scored on a Collins double, plating Rachel Cadigan, in the seventh inning.
Collins had three more hits in the second game, for a 5-for-8 day at the plate, while Yanarella had two more hits in the second contest.
The Sea Gulls close out CAC regular-season play next weekend, traveling to Penn State University-Harrisburg on Friday and York College of Pennsylvania on Saturday for doubleheaders each day.