SALISBURY, Md. – The No. 5 Salisbury University softball team gets into action early this morning, taking on No. 8 Christopher Newport University in the battle of the only two remaining unbeaten teams in the Capital Athletic Conference tournament. The first pitch for this morning's game is set for 10 a.m., at the SU Softball Field.
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How we got here
Salisbury is the top seed in the tournament, having gone 13-1 in the regular season in CAC play. The Sea Gulls (32-4) topped fifth-seeded University of Mary Washington on Thursday, 6-0. In that game, senior Annah Brittingham went 3-for-4 with a run and an RBI, while earning the win in the circle. Classmate Molly Simpson and junior Caitlin Lake each had two hits in the game as Simpson smashed her Division III-leading 13th home run of the year.
How they got here
The Captains (33-5) are the No. 2 seed in the field, having gone 12-2 in the CAC during the regular season. Yesterday, Christopher Newport defeated third-seeded Frostburg State University, 4-3. The Bobcats took an early 3-0 lead, but the Captains tied things in the bottom of the fourth with an RBI single from Brittney Walters and a two-run home run from Hannah Cook. In the seventh, it took just one hit for the Captains to bring home the winning run in walk-off fashion with Rachael Shiflett driving in the game winner.
Last time we met
The teams split a doubleheader on March 26 in Newport News, Virginia. Salisbury claimed the opener, 4-2, before the Captains took the nightcap, 5-3. That was Salisbury's last loss, as the Sea Gulls have rattled off 15-straight wins since.
Christopher Newport holds the slimmest of advantages in the all-time series, leading 30-29-2, dating back to the first meeting in 1989. Salisbury, however has won three of the past four meetings including a sweep in the best-of-three NCAA Super Regional last year, which allowed Salisbury to advance to the NCAA championship for the ninth time in program history.
Scouting the Captains
Christopher Newport enters Thursday's game having won six-straight contests. The Captains are led offensively by Scoop Simon as the only player to appear in at last half of the team's games batting over .400, as she carries a .455 average into today's game. One of the most potent offenses in the nation, Christopher Newport ranks 19th in the nation, scoring 7.46 runs per game and 20th in slugging percentage (.514). Three pitchers have seen at least 60 innings in the circle this year, led by Tara Heatwole's 111 1/3 innings, with a 2.20 ERA.
Salisbury has seen Brittingham and freshman Brooke Mizelle register 193 of Salisbury's 222 pitching innings this season, with the pair leading the team to a 1.47 team ERA, which ranks eighth in NCAA Division III softball. Each pitcher ranks in the top 50 in the nation hits allowed per seven innings, with Brittingham 11th giving up just 3.94 per game. Mizelle sits 28th in the nation with a 1.17 ERA.
The winner of Friday morning's game will advance to Saturday's CAC championship contest beginning at 10 a.m. the team that is not victorious this morning will turn around and play again at 2 p.m., this afternoon against the winner of today's second game between third-seeded Frostburg State University and fifth-seeded University of Mary Washington.