After the Sea Gulls split the doubleheader Saturday vs The College of New Jersey, 17th-ranked Salisbury (9-2) took on Lynchburg College (11-1) on Monday. The Hornets entered the game on a four-game win streak, while the Sea Gulls entered winning seven of their last eight games.
Game One: Lynchburg 9, Salisbury 0
The Hornets completely dominated game one of the doubleheader.
On offense, Lynchburg loaded the bases in each of the first four innings and scored a combined nine runs, including a grand slam in fourth by senior Mackenzie Chitwood. On defense, The Hornets shut down Salisbury, retiring the side in order throughout the first three innings.
Salisbury did not get a single base hit until junior short stop Dakotah Fraley singled in the bottom of the fourth, extending her hit streak to six games.
“I just knew that I needed to come up and do something good for the team,” Fraley said.
After Fraley’s base hit in the fourth, Salisbury came out in the top of the fifth and quickly shut down Lynchburg, sending the Hornets down in order. Senior first baseman Amelia Trotter and freshman second baseman Kendall Dixon both got base hits in the bottom of the fifth, showing Salisbury’s resilience.
“I think that the bright spot for us was we could’ve laid down and we didn’t. We continued to play to the last pitch. So, for that reason I’m very proud of the team,” Salisbury head coach Margie Knight said.
But the Hornets would get the outs needed to preserve the shutout 9-0 win in five innings. This would give Salisbury back-to-back loses for the first time this year.
Freshman starting pitcher Jillian Jones got many learning experiences in her three innings pitched today, giving up only four runs on seven hits while striking out two batters. Despite facing the bases loaded in each of the innings she pitched, Jones was able to get out of the jam in both the first and third innings.
“[Jones] is working hard,” Coach Knight said. “We’ve introduced a couple new pitches to her, and she doesn’t have the greatest control of them yet, but once she gets them, watch out.”
Game 2: Lynchburg 5, Salisbury 4
In stark contrast to game one, game two was very competitive and back-and-forth.
After retiring the Hornets in order in the top of the first, Salisbury was able to finally get on the board when junior first baseman Emily Allen hit a two RBI triple, scoring sophomore catcher Madeira Alexander and Jones. This hit ended Allen’s three-game hitting drought and gave Salisbury its first runs of the game.
“I just knew that this was a good opportunity for us to start the game on top, and I was just trying to do my best to keep the run we had going and score some teammates,” Allen said.
Salisbury had a golden opportunity to add to its lead in the bottom of the third with Allen at third and junior third baseman Kayleigh Edwards at second with one out. But Lynchburg got the final two to end the inning.
Lynchburg tied the game up in the fourth inning with a two RBI double. The Hornets would take their first lead of the game in the fifth inning on a RBI sac fly and increase their lead in the sixth with a two-run home run by sophomore Kortney Leazer.
Trailing 5-2 heading into the bottom of the sixth, Fraley responded by nailing a two-run home run of her own, scoring senior centerfielder Cat Ramagnano and cutting Lynchburg’s lead to one.
But Lynchburg got the final three outs in the bottom of the seventh to hold on to its 5-4 victory over Salisbury, handing the Sea Gulls their first series loss of the season.
With the home run and two walks in game two, Fraley has now reached base via a walk or hit at least once in every single game this season.
“Just sticking to the little things,” Fraley said, “Even when I have two strikes on me just barreling the ball up and putting it in play.”
The Sea Gulls look to end their three-game losing streak as they finally head out on the road on Thursday to take on defending national champion and No. 1 Virginia Wesleyan University (5-0) in a doubleheader.
“I think we’re pretty prepared hitting wise,” Allen said. “We got to do a little cleanup on defense, but other than that, I think that we are pretty prepared.”
After taking on the top-ranked Marlins, Salisbury’s next home game will be Saturday, March 23 when Salisbury hosts Ursinus College (2-2)
By BRANDON STARK
Featured photo: The softball players gather after the doubleheader against Lynchburg. March 11 (Olivia Rowland image).