SALISBURY, Md. – The Salisbury University softball team started its run in the NCAA tournament in strong fashion on Friday and now will try to move through the winners' bracket on Saturday, taking on Johnson & Wales (R.I.) University, beginning at 1 p.m., in a game pushed back due to weather conditions.
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How we got here
The Sea Gulls won their Friday game, going to extra innings for a 3-2 victory against No. 8 Moravian College. The Sea Gulls scored in the first, on a LeAnne Collins home run, and again in the fifth on an unearned run, before the Greyhounds drew even with two runs in the sixth inning. Salisbury claimed the victory in the eighth when Sami Mumford scored on a Cat Ramagnano single to right-center field. Senior pitcher Rachael Milligan pitched a complete game, allowing just five hits while striking out a career-high nine batters.
How they got here
The Wildcats earned an automatic berth in the tournament by winning the Great Northeast Athletic Conference championship and picked up a 3-1 win against the host No. 22 The College of New Jersey on Friday. Jennifer Corona scattered five hits for the Wildcats, striking out one and walking only one in her complete-game victory. Johnson & Wales trailed 1-0 before tying the game with a single run in the third and scoring two in the sixth to claim the victory.
Salisbury and Johnson & Wales have never met in softball. Saturday's game will be the first contest between the programs.
Scouting the Wildcats
Johnson & Wales has one of the top offenses in the tournament, ranking in the top 50 in batting average and scoring average. Led by Tiffani Semanchik's .464 batting average, the Wildcats rank 37th nationally, with a team batting average of .341. Corrona leads a pitching staff that is 35th in the country with a 2.20 team earned run average while Corrona is 22nd in Division III softball with a 1.28 ERA and 21st allowing just 4.60 hits per seven innings pitched.
Nothing for free
The teams will need to earn every run on Saturday, with two of the best defenses in the country taking the field. Salisbury ranks ninth in the nation with a .972 fielding percentage while the Wildcats are fourth with a .976 fielding percentage. Fittingly, neither team committed an error on Friday.
The Sea Gulls bring two of the top extra-base hitters into Saturday's game. Annie Pietanza hit her 21st double of the year, which is eighth in the county while LeAnne Collins sits second in the nation with eight triples.
The winner of Saturday morning's game will advance to Sunday's championship game and will be just one victory from advancing to next week's super regional. The loser of the first game will play in an elimination game against the winner of Saturday's second game between No. 8 Moravian College and No. 22 The College of New Jersey.