By BRAD KELLY
The Salisbury softball team (4-6) finished the Sea Gull Classic with a 9-4 loss against the Washington Shorewomen (4-4) Sunday afternoon. It was the first time the Gulls lost to the Shorewomen since 1998, and after a walk-off defeat by Clarkson University during the first half of the doubleheader, the team went 2-2 over the weekend.
Salisbury handled the Shorewomen during their first meeting on Saturday, 11-1, but things went vastly different during Sunday’s matchup. Salisbury junior pitcher Rachel Milligan (2-3 4.06 earned run average) took the circle and the Shorewomen jumped on her quickly.
Washington created a rally in the first inning with a leadoff walk and a bunt that fell in no-man’s land over Milligan. After Milligan worked out of the jam with a strikeout and popup, Shorewomen senior outfielder Erin Spinden drove a three-run homer that just climbed over the left-field wall, giving Washington a three-run lead.
Shorewomen junior pitcher Taylor Harcum (3-1. 2.52 earned run average) took the mound for Washington. She is Washington’s ace, but the Gulls answered back with their own rally in the bottom half of the inning.
Salisbury junior first baseman Kristen Yanarella started things off with a one-out double, followed by freshmen outfielder Mikayla Meehan’s single to center. The Shorewomen had an opening to get out of the inning with a double-play chance, but after a bobble at short and then a drop by the second basemen, the bases loaded up for Gulls freshmen infielder Emily Allen. Allen made the Shorewomen mistake hurt, lacing an opposite field two-run double, bringing the deficit to only one.
However, Harcum showed why she is the team’s ace by navigating out of the one-out jam without surrendering any more damage. Washington answered right back in the top of the second with two more runs, thanks to a run-batted-in (RBI) double from freshman first basemen Rachel Butler and Harcum, helping her cause with an RBI double as well.
Harcum held the Gulls scoreless in the bottom of the inning, while Milligan blanked the Shorewomen in the top of the third. But, the Gulls climbed back into the game in the bottom of the third. Junior infielder Annie Pietanza started things with a one-out single, bringing Allen to the plate with runners on yet again. She launched a towering two-run homer to left, cutting the lead back to one.
“My approach was to just get another hit off her after she made chase a few pitches I was not proud of,” Allen said. “I just wanted to do my part and knock in runs.”
These were the last runs Salisbury scored on the day, as Harcum settled in and blanked the Gulls’ offense over the remaining four innings. The Shorewomen chased Milligan out of the game after a two-run single from junior outfielder Elaina DiPrimio in the fourth inning. Milligan finished her outing with a three and two-thirds innings, seven earned runs and two strikeouts.
Sophomore Shannon Powell replaced Milligan, who stepped in admirably and only surrendered two runs and five hits over the final three innings.
Butler and Harcum led the Shorewomen offense. They both notched three hits while knocking in two. The Gulls’ offense came in the form of Allen who had two hits while knocking in all four of the team’s runs. While the weekend did not end the way Salisbury wanted, it did not go without its benefits.
“We hit the ball a lot better and fielded well,” Allen said. “We also came together as a team, showed more cohesion and bonded.”
The Gulls have a double header against the Averett University Cougars this Tuesday at 1:30 and 3:30 p.m. at Sea Gull Softball Stadium.