SALISBURY, Md. – The Salisbury University softball team will begin play in the 2018 NCAA Division III Softball Tournament on Friday, taking on No. 8 Moravian College in a contest to be played at The College of New Jersey, beginning at noon.
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How we got here
Salisbury got one of the 20 at-large bids to the tournament field, after falling just short in the Capital Athletic Conference championship. The Sea Gulls advanced through the opening weekend of the CAC tournament to the conference championship series, where they won once in the best-of-three series. Salisbury was 28-13 through the regular season before earning the tournament bid.
How they got here
Moravian is making its 17th NCAA tournament appearance after winning the Landmark Conference championship. The Greyhounds went 29-5 in the regular season to earn the top seed in the Landmark tournament, winning three straight in the conference playoffs to claim the championship, defeating Catholic University of America in the first game before topping The University of Scranton twice in a row for the title and the automatic berth in the NCAA tournament field.
The teams last met in 2006 in the NCAA tournament in Salisbury, Maryland, with the Greyhounds coming away with a 2-1 win. It is one of six Moravian victories in the all-time series, with Salisbury holding a 10-6 record overall. The teams have played eight times in neutral-site settings, all coming in the NCAA tournament, with the Sea Gulls holding a 5-3 edge in those contests.
Scouting the Greyhounds
Moravian brings one of the top pitching staffs into the nation, ranking 12th in Division III with a 1.75 ERA. Josie Novak is 36th individually with a 1.47 ERA while Amanda Carisone is 78th nationally with a 1.83 ERA. The senior duo has also combined for 10 shutouts this season. The Greyhounds also excel with a bat in their hands, with a team batting average of .343, which is the 34th-best team mark in Division III. Kat Spilman's .429 average and Shannon Brogan's .424 lead the way in that category for Moravian.
Back at it
Friday's game will mark the 22nd NCAA tournament appearance in Salisbury program history, after a one-year hiatus. The Sea Gulls made eight-straight NCAA tournaments prior to missing the field in 2017, but have come back this season, having won 14 of their past 17 games entering play on Friday.
The winner of Friday's game will play on Saturday in the first of three games played in Ewing, New Jersey that day, beginning at 11 a.m., against the winner of Friday's other game between the host Lions and Johnson & Wales (R.I.) University. The two teams that lose on Friday will face off in an elimination game beginning at 1:30 p.m. The field will be narrowed to two teams by Sunday, when a regional winner will be decided.