EAU CLAIRE, Wis. – The top-ranked Salisbury University softball team advanced to a 1:30 p.m., elimination contest against the State University of New York at Cortland with a 1-0 victory over the University of Texas at Tyler early this morning.
Salisbury (42-3) would score the lone run of the contest in the bottom of the third after getting out of a bases-loaded situation in the second.
In the second inning, Texas-Tyler (47-6) loaded the bases with one out, but superb defense by the Sea Gulls allowed sophomore pitcher Rachel Johnson to exit the inning unscathed. Freshman third baseman Katie Sebbane recorded the third out by the way of a pop-up that looked destined for the dirt but the freshman made the overhead catch, with her back to home plate, for the out.
Both teams would put runners on in the third but it was the Sea Gulls who were able to capitalize.
Junior Angelia McDowell led off the frame with a free pass after being hit by a pitch before classmate Harley Hill smacked a shot to Patriot pitcher Kelsie Batten, which bounced off her shin, to put two runners on with no outs. A force out at third gave Texas-Tyler their first out but kept two runners on while the second out was collected as senior Michelle Gravdahl drove a ball that looked like it would go up the middle, but instead deflected off the diving glove of Raven Rodriguez and rolled right to the second baseman for the second out.
With runners on the corners, senior Hannah Mills delivered the game-winning RBI to right field to plate Hill and pull SU one game closer to their ultimate goal.
Johnson was relieved in the top of the seventh after walking Ashley Endsley, the Patriots leadoff batter. Johnson finished with four strikeouts, three walks and four hits.
Junior Kathryn Larson adjusted after walking Carli Wheeler to put two runners on. Sebbane would record the first out, fielding a hard struck ball to third, tagging the base for the force out. The second out came by the way of Mills flicking the ball to senior Carly Read for the force at second, and a heads-up play by the Sea Gulls retired Rodriguez who left first base thinking she was out, as Larson threw to first base to end the inning.
Salisbury will now face the team that handed the maroon and gold their first loss of the tournament, the State University of Cortland, later this afternoon. First pitch is set for 1:30 p.m.