By JAMIR WILSON
After splitting a doubleheader with Ursinus Saturday, the Salisbury University softball team bounced back Sunday facing the SUNY New Paltz State Hawks.
Salisbury defeated New Paltz State in the first game of doubleheader action 7-1. The Sea Gulls scored in the first four innings building a 7-0 lead on the Hawks.
“It takes pressure off the defense and the pitcher when your team is hitting right away,” SU head coach Margie Knight said.
Salisbury made sure to take the pressure off of starting pitcher Brooke Mizelle with a four-hit and two-run first inning against New Paltz’s starter Kiersten Carlomagno
Freshman second baseman Brooke Yerger started the first inning’s hitting spree with a single to right side. Senior outfielder Caitlin Lake joined the party with a single of her own to center field. The team leader in RBIs Annie Pietanza came in the clean up spot and brought both Yerger and Lake home.
Freshman catcher Emily Allen and junior first baseman Kristen Yanarella contributed at the plate combining for four of the Sea Gulls’ 12 hits on the day.
The Sea Gulls received a great performance from their preseason All-American pitcher Mizelle, one they have been anticipating all season against New Paltz.
“We had a really nice pitching performance from Brooke when we didn’t do a couple things behind her she kept her cool and composure,” Coach Knight said. “It was good we needed that from her, I think it was really good for her and the team.”
Mizelle threw a complete game, striking out four batters and not giving up an earn run.
“It felt really good to have my old self back, was really good to get back and get another win so that’s always good,” Mizelle said.
New Paltz managed to get eight hits, but could only scrape one run against Salisbury. The Sea Gull defense made some plays behind Mizelle to limit the Hawks on offense.
“We did have some good plays today they were just behind the pitchers today so we need that to continue that onto the next games and the rest of the season,” Mizelle said.
Carlomagno and Taylor Leonette were the few bright spots at the plate for the Hawks today, both getting two hits on the day.
The Sea Gulls best inning at the plate was the top of the fourth. Yanarella reached first base with a single. Lake hit a double that brought home junior outfielder LeAnne Collins and Yanarella. Pietanza also doubled which brought Lake home to finish the four run inning.
The Sea Gulls finished their doubleheader action against SUNY New Paltz State with a 9-2 victory. Salisbury is on a three-game winning streak after the win, which is their longest streak of 2017.
The star of the game was Collins. In four at-bats the outfielder went for the legendary cycle: a single, double, triple, and homerun.
“It was pretty exciting especially because my first college homerun was a in the park kind, Coach Knight sent me home and I was like ok I’m taking it,” Collins said.
The in-the-park-homerun is one of the most entertaining plays in softball because the hitter has to run from home plate around all of the bases and make it home before being tagged.
Collins showed an abundance of confidence when running around the bases after her shot to the right center gap.
“A lot of it has to do with confidence in my coaches, I trust every time when they’re sending me I know they’re making the right decision,” Collins said.
The maroon and gold followed up a 12 hit game in the first with a 14 hit game in the second. When the Sea Gulls bats are that hot, they are a difficult team to contain.
“I think just the whole team vibe in general felt different,” Collins said. “I think the whole team was having more discipline patient at-bats.”
Yerger performed well for the Sea Gulls at the plate as well going 3-3 with a double and two RBI.
Lake and Yanarella contributed two hits each to the team, and clean-up hitter Pietanza brought three runners home on two hits.
SU junior starting pitcher Rachael Milligan put on one of her best performances of the season on the mound against New Paltz. Throwing a complete game giving up only four hits and striking out six batters.
“Another fine pitching performance, our defense got us out of a couple of jams with a few nice plays,” Coach Knight said. “Rachael threw well, she reduced her walks immensely and only gave up four hits in seven innings.”
The junior pitcher’s record moves to 4-4 on the season after the strong start against the Hawks.
“The pitchers showed big improvement today,” Collins said. “They looked more confident, they’re throwing more strikes, less walked batters, and all around it was a sharp performance by our pitchers.”
The pitching and defense have been the weak points for the Sea Gulls this season, but today those areas of the team were strong suits. The defense made some highlight-worthy plays helping their pitchers get batters out.
“We have been working on our defense at practice and today I think the women did an excellent job making the simple basic play,” Coach Knight said. “That’s all you have to do in this game, and if you can add a spectacular play one here and there that’s awesome.”
The Sea Gulls are beginning to look like the strong teams of program’s past, and if they continue to have strong performances by their pitchers and defense they will be poised for another Capital Athletic Conference championship run.
“I think it goes back to the confidence I think as our team gains confidence you’re going to start to see more plays because we have a very athletic team.” Collins said.
The Sea Gulls (8-8) take on Lynchburg College at home in another doubleheader matchup Monday afternoon to finish out the Salisbury Invitational.