SALISBURY, Md. – The No. 5 Salisbury University softball team is one win away from the program's 19th Capital Athletic Conference championship, advancing to the title game with a 7-3 win on Friday morning against No. 8 Christopher Newport University at the SU Softball Field.
The second-seeded Captains (33-6) got on the board in the second inning, starting with a single by Jenna Sprinkle, who was lifted for a pinch runner. Meagan Jones then stole second and third base before a double steal, with Hannah Cook, allowed Jones to score the first run.
Salisbury drew even in the bottom of the third inning, when senior Molly Simpson ended a seven-pitch at-bat by hooking her 14th home run of the year to left field, tying the game 1-1.
Christopher Newport took the lead for the second time, taking advantage of a two-out Salisbury error, keeping the fifth inning alive, with runners on first and second when Scoop Simon drilled a two-run double to left-center field for the 3-1 lead.
The shot was one of just two hits surrendered by Salisbury senior pitcher Annah Brittingham who would not have to wait long for her offense to respond, getting in the act herself, as the Sea Gulls (33-4) put up six runs in the bottom of the inning.
Sophomore Annie Pietanza reached on an infield single to open the inning, and junior Caitlin Lake walked with one out. CNU starter Hanah Marshall got a strikeout for the second out of the inning, but the fireworks came from the Salisbury bats with two outs.
Simpson bounced a single up the middle, plating Pietanza, and Paige Knussman's single in the same spot, brought home Lake to tie the game at 3-3 and chase Marshall from the contest in favor of Maiven McKnight.
Brittingham wasted no time, smashing the first pitch she saw from McKnight to straight-away center field. Leah Andrews ranged back to the fence, and saw the ball tip off her glove on a leaping try to end the inning, but as the ball fell, Simpson and Knussman scored for the 5-3 lead.
Senior Kim Dorsey came up and worked her count full before smashing her 10th home run of the season to left field, a no-doubt two-run shot pushing the lead to its final of 7-3.
Brittingham closed out the complete-game effort by stranding a pair of Captains in the top of the seventh, as she walked six in the contest, but also struck out six to garner her 16th win of the year.
The Sea Gulls now move on to CAC championship Saturday against either Christopher Newport or Frostburg State University, who play an elimination game on Friday afternoon at 5:30 p.m. The title game will start at 10 a.m., on Saturday. One win for the Sea Gulls will give them the title while their opponent would need to win twice on Saturday for the championship.