Sea Gulls eliminate top-ranked Emory to continue play in NCAA regional

Sea Gulls eliminate top-ranked Emory to continue play in NCAA regional

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – The No. 18 Salisbury University softball team eliminated top-ranked Emory College in the third round of the 2012 NCAA Division III Softball Championship. After taking a 2-0 lead in the fourth inning, the Sea Gulls were able to make big plays defensively to shut out Emory.

Sophomore Harley Hill led off the game with a single through the right side and then advanced to second on a wild pitch. Hill moved to third off junior Sarah Alpaugh's sacrifice bunt. With two outs and Hill on third, Salisbury looked as though it would bring a run in but Dana Goodenough made an over the shoulder catch to end the inning.

"Emory made some great defensive plays, especially their shortstop, to keep any additional runs from scoring," said Head Coach Margie Knight. "They are a great team and have an excellent pitcher in Bridget Holloway."

Emory (34-5) had a scoring opportunity of its own in the first inning with two runners on and two outs. Senior hurler Erika Brittingham walked and then hit a batter to put the two Eagles on base, but with runners in scoring position the senior struck out Jessica Thomas to preserve the tie.

The two teams battled back and forth through the next two innings of play, unable to bring any runs across the plate until the fourth inning.

Junior Hannah Mills reached base first for Salisbury (37-6) with a single shot to shortstop and then moved to second on senior Casey Zaino's sacrifice bunt. Mills reached home on a double from classmate Lindsay McCabe (3-for-3), who then brought in the Gulls' second run of the inning, eluding the tag at home plate by sliding around Emory's catcher. Sophomore Angelia McDowell's single to left-center field gave Salisbury the 2-0 lead and an error by Emory allowed McCabe to turn for home.

Brittingham made her third appearance of the tournament in the circle. The Georgetown, Del., native had a no-hit bid going into the bottom of the fifth inning but gave up her only hit of the day to Micah Scharff, putting two runners on after walking the leadoff batter. Brittingham struck out Sophia Tarte for the second out and was helped by Alpaugh, who made a catch in center field to end the inning unscathed.

Freshman Rachel Johnson took to the circle in the sixth inning with one out and runners on second and third base. The freshman had Meaghan Schultz swinging with a full count to record the second out followed by a pop-up to head into the seventh inning.

"Rachel Johnson came in, in a big pressure situation with two runners on and one out in a regional quarterfinal and was able to get us out of the inning without allowing Emory any runs, that was big," said Knight. "A shutout against Emory shows why our ERA is so low, we had excellent pitching today and our defense didn't bend."

With the win, SU eliminates top-ranked Emory College from the NCAA Division III Softball Championship and moves on to play another elimination game at 7:30 p.m., against either McDaniel College or Ferrum College, who play at 3:00 p.m.

The contest will be held at York County Sports Complex. Twitter updates will be available through Christopher Newport's Twitter feed, www.twitter.com/CNUAthletics.

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