On the second day of the Salisbury Invitational, the 17th-ranked Sea Gulls (8-1) took on The College of New Jersey (1-1) in a doubleheader. With a victory in their game on Friday vs. Cortland State College, Salisbury entered the day on a six-game win streak and a lot of momentum.
The last time these two teams met, Salisbury defeated then No. 18 TCNJ 6-5. This victory over the Lions kickstarted the Sea Gulls' six-game win streak.
Game One: Salisbury 4, TCNJ 3
The Lions scored a run in the top of the first inning, only for Salisbury to tie the game up on a RBI pop out by junior catcher Emily Allen, which brought junior short stop Dakotah Fraley in to score. Junior third baseman Kayleigh Edwards’ RBI base hit brought freshman pitcher Jillian Jones in to score, giving Salisbury the 2-1 lead, a lead it would not lose for the remainder of the game.
The Sea Gulls jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the bottom of the third with a two-run home run by Edwards, scoring Allen.
The Lions would add runs in the top of the fifth and seventh innings to cut into Salisbury’s lead. However, senior pitcher Shannon Powell, in relief of Jones, got the final out to get her first save of the year and the Sea Gulls’ seventh straight win.
“I went after [the last TCNJ batter], I threw what I knew, and I didn’t try to think about it, but knew it was a done win at that point,” Powell said.
Jones pitched four and one-third innings before being shifted to right field, giving up only one base hit, two runs and six walks.
“I think that [our defense] was very focused, they always know what to do, they stay mentally in the game,” Jones said. “I think that’s one big thing that helped us in that game, staying mentally there and knowing what plays to make.”
At least half of the walks were intentional, according to Salisbury softball’s head coach Margie Knight.
Powell pitched two and two-thirds innings in relief, giving up one run on three hits, and walked two batters.
“I think [Jones] held them pretty good, and I think that our two styles of throwing are really different, so it’s not hard to come in for her, especially when she doesn’t give up a lot of runs to begin with, so I’m pretty confident coming in behind her and closing the game,” Powell said.
On offense, Jones was a perfect three-for-three, and Edwards went two-for-three for a game high three RBIs.
“[Edwards] has a good eye at the plate, and she was able to make really solid contact on a very good pitcher,” Knight said.
The Sea Gulls' defense held strong when needed to assist Jones and Powell to end innings, stranding a total of nine Lions base runners.
“Our defense is super solid,” Powell said. “We get along well on and off the field, so that definitely helps us. They definitely make the plays when I need them to, and that’s the best thing is knowing they’re behind me when I’m pitching.”
Both teams combined to walk 15 batters, allow 10 base hits and strand 18 base runners.
Game 2: TCNJ 9, Salisbury 1
The second game of the doubleheader started out just as low-scoring and defensive as the first game.
But the second game had a faster pace to it, as both pitchers were able to end innings after facing only three or four batters. Senior first baseman Amelia Trotter homered to put Salisbury, designated visitors for game two, up 1-0 in the top of the second.
This would be the lone highlight for the Sea Gulls' offense, as TCNJ sophomore Eliza Sweet successfully shut down the Sea Gulls. Through five innings pitched, Sweet only gave up four hits and the one run while striking out three Salisbury batters.
The Lions’ offense tied the game in the bottom of the third and scored five runs in the bottom of the fourth to take a 6-1 lead into the fifth. TCNJ tacked on three more runs in the bottom of the fifth, with the mercy rule ending the game 9-1 in five innings.
After a day off, the No 17 Sea Gulls (9-2) look to rebound as they prepare to take on Lynchburg College (9-1) in a doubleheader on Monday.
“We’ll have a good recovery practice tomorrow and then we’ll be ready to go,” Coach Knight said. “One of the keys to success is not to look back, but look forward.”
By BRANDON STARK
Featured photo: The softball team gathers after the doubleheader against TCNJ. March 9 (Emma Reider image).