SALISBURY, Md. – The No. 2 Salisbury University softball team earned a key regional doubleheader sweep against No. 7 Virginia Wesleyan College on Wednesday at the SU Softball Field, not allowing a run in 14 innings, winning 8-0 and 1-0.
Game one: Salisbury 8, Virginia Wesleyan 0 (6 inn.)
Salisbury got another dominant pitching performance from junior Rachel Johnson in the opener. The Preston, Md., native would work all six innings in the contest, surrendering just two walks and a hit batter while striking out 11 and putting together the team's fourth no-hitter of the year. It is the eighth no-hitter Johnson has been a part of in her career.
In the third inning, Salisbury got to Marlin starter Mary Shipp for the first run of the game, with a pair of base hits and an elusive slide. Sophomore Rachel Spadin found herself in an 0-and-2 hole with one out before battling back to a full count and then legged out a single on a ball deep into the hole at shortstop.
Spadin motored to third when senior Harley Hill's single got through the right side and senior Angelia McDowell laid down a bunt to give the Gulls the lead. McDowell's bunt went to third baseman Kayla Dost, which forced Spadin to freeze at third. When Dost threw to first for the out, Spadin broke for home and with an elusive slide, got around the tag of catcher Taylor Galvin, who took the return throw from first base.
Salisbury would build on its lead in the fourth, putting together four runs on five hits. Sophomore Paige Knussman blasted her sixth home run of the year, a solo, opposite-field shot to get the inning started.
Game two: Salisbury 1, Virginia Wesleyan 0 (8 inn.)
The second game was a pitchers' duel throughout. Junior Kathryn Larson got the start for the Gulls, against Virginia Wesleyan's Kristina Karagiorgis. The hurlers would not allow a run in regulation, though the Marlins (20-4) had their best chance in the game's first inning.
A single and a walk put two runners on with no outs, but Larson settled in, getting a groundout, a flyout and another ground ball to end the threat.
Larson would retire eight consecutive batters into the fifth inning before a pair of singles gave the Marlins runners on first and second with one out. Johnson came in to relieve Larson, and got two strikeouts to end the inning with the game still scoreless.
Salisbury would have its best chance to score in the first seven innings in the bottom of the sixth, getting to Karagiorgis for a pair of two-out singles and an error to load the bases with two outs, but a fly ball would finish the inning.
In the top of the eighth, with Tori Higginbotham placed on second base for the international tie-breaker, Johnson made quick work of the Marlins, striking out two batters and getting a pop out to send the game to the bottom of the eighth.
McDowell opened the inning on second base and was moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by sophomore Kim Dorsey. Knussman wasted no time putting the game away, as she ripped the second pitch she saw to the right side, just off the glove of second baseman Kayla Malkos, bringing home McDowell for the game-winning run.
Knussman was 3-for-4 in the game, accounting for nearly half of Salisbury's seven hits. Johnson struck out five in her 3 2/3 innings in the circle, collecting the win, while Larson struck out a pair in 4 1/3.
The Sea Gulls will be back in action on Saturday, hosting York College of Pennsylvania at the SU Softball Field; the doubleheader will begin at 1 p.m.