NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – The Salisbury University softball team got ahead early and held on Friday claiming a key 9-6 win in the first game of the best-of-three Capital Athletic Conference championship series at Christopher Newport University.
Salisbury got to Christopher Newport starting pitcher Aubrey Bates with three runs in the first inning on four hits. After singles from Dakotah Fraley and Annie Pietanza, Madeira Alexander drove a ball through the right side and a throwing error allowed Fraley to score from second. Senior Kristen Yanarella hit a chopper up the middle, which brought home two more runs for the 3-0 lead.
The Sea Gulls (28-11) tacked on four more runs in the second on four hits and another Captain error. With two runners in scoring position, the first run in the frame came home on a throwing error before three-consecutive run-scoring balls in play by the Sea Gulls. Yanarella drove in another with her RBI single, before Emily Allen did the same and Sami Mumford grounded out, but brought home a run.
Fraley pushed the lead to 8-0 with a solo home run with one out in the third and the Sea Gulls got their final run in the fourth on wild pitch, scoring in the team's first four offensive innings.
Through the first three innings, Salisbury starter Rachael Milligan kept the Captains' bats at bay, but the host team put up a single run in the fourth and scored four in the fifth, forcing the Sea Gulls to the bullpen, and keeping the game alive, with Salisbury ahead 9-5.
Christopher Newport got a run in the sixth, charged to reliever Shannon Powell, before Milligan re-entered and finished off the game. She stranded three runners in the sixth inning and after two quick outs in the seventh, the Captains loaded the bases again. With the potential winning run at the plate, Milligan finished the contest. Liz Andrews hit a hard chopper back to Milligan, who got a glove on it, knocking the ball into the air, corralled it and fired to first to end the contest.
Yanarella went 4-for-4 and Fraley had three hits to lead the offensive effort with Fraley scoring three times and Yanarella driving in three. Salisbury finished with 12 hits in the game, but left 14 runners on base, while the Captains stranded 13.
The teams will conclude the series on Saturday, May 5. The Sea Gulls need just one more win to close out the series, while Christopher Newport will need two victories on Saturday to win the title. First pitch on Saturday is slated for noon.