SALISBURY, Md. – The No. 4 Salisbury University softball team is one win away from claiming the Salisbury, Maryland Regional title of the NCAA Division III Softball Tournament following a 1-0 win against No. 24 William Paterson University on Saturday morning.
Johnson and William Paterson starting pitcher Allison Podmajersky rolled early, as neither team would have a runner reach base until the third inning when Christina Austin reached on two-out single up the middle for the Pioneers.
Austin was quickly stranded and Salisbury would put its first runner on base in the bottom of the third when sophomore Molly Simpson reached on a one-out single up the middle. After the second out of the frame, senior Harley Hill ripped a double to left, allowing Simpson to advance to third. But, after a walk to load the bases, Podmajersky would get a groundout to end the threat.
The Salisbury defense came alive in the top of the fourth, when Kelsey Principe, the leadoff hitter in the inning, sent a looping liner to left field. Salisbury senior Angelia McDowell charged and made a sliding catch to keep Principe off the base paths.
The Sea Gulls got the only run they would need in the bottom of the fourth. Sophomore Paige Knussman ripped a line drive to left field to open the inning and was advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt from classmate Katie Sebbane.
After catcher Rebecca Hoey singled deep in the hole at shortstop, keeping Knussman at second, Malgieri drove a ball into the right-center field gap, just over the out-stretched glove of Principe, the William Paterson center fielder, allowing Knussman to score for the game's only run.
The Pioneers would have at least one runner on base in each of their last three innings, but only one would reach scoring position. Two singles in the sixth gave William Paterson runners on first and second, but another fly out ended the inning.
William Paterson's final chance came in the seventh when Rachel Wasilak singled with one out. Kim Fryer attempted a sacrifice bunt to push the potential tying run into scoring position, but popped the effort toward the backstop. Hoey jumped out of her crouch and darted to the fence, sliding to make the grab. The final of Johnson's eight strikeouts in the game would end the contest.
William Paterson (31-11) took its second loss later in the day, falling to Manhattanville College, 3-0. It was Manhattanville's second elimination-game win of the day, having survived a nine-inning slugfest, 15-10, against Penn State University Berks.
The Sea Gulls take on Manhattanville on Sunday, May 11, at noon. The Sea Gulls need just one win to claim the regional title, while the Valiants would need to beat Salisbury twice to claim the crown.