By DREW KESSLER
Featured photo: SU freshman catcher Madeira Alexander stands on first base alongside SU assistant coach Dr. Tom Stitcher. March 4. Emma Reider photo
Scoring five runs in each game of a double-header vs. Immaculata on Sunday, the Salisbury University softball team split two close games with the visiting Mighty Macs. The Sea Gulls came out with a vengeance after losing the first game in heartbreaking fashion, winning the second game of the day.
Game No.1: Salisbury 5, Immaculata 6
Immaculata came firing out of the gates for the start of the morning game, scoring three runs in the first two innings. The Mighty Macs third baseman Keani Hindle brought in the first run of the game in the bottom of the first with an RBI single. Two more Immaculata runs came across in the bottom of second inning to take the early 3-0 lead.
Shut down for the first three innings, the Sea Gull offense only got one hit off Mighty Mac sophomore starting pitcher Michaela Petito. However, in the fourth inning, the offense came to life.
SU found back-to-back singles from sophomore shortstop Dakotah Fraley and senior second baseman Annie Pietanza. Then, freshman Maderia Alexander came up to the plate and crushed a three-run home run over the left field wall to tie the ball game at three.
“Home runs are taking advantage of pitcher mistakes with location, and I am just trying to hit the ball well and that is what I am focused on to hit a good pitch,” Alexander said.
Alexander has capitalized off pitchers’ mistakes recently, hitting a homerun in back-to-back days to bring even more production to the middle of the Salisbury offense.
Salisbury’s first lead of the game came in the top of fifth inning when junior right fielder Cat Ramagnano got a lead-off base hit. She later came into score off an RBI base hit from Fraley, giving SU a 4-3 lead. SU did miss a big opportunity, stranding the bases loaded at the end of the inning.
Immaculata’s offense would not go away though, scoring two runs in the next frame to retake the lead. Left fielder Ashley Rey first tallied an RBI single to tie the game at four. A couple batters later shortstop Annemarie Bartow’s RBI base hit gave Immaculata the 5-4 lead.
The Sea Gulls answered right back, scoring one run in the top of sixth inning when freshman left fielder Sami Mumford provided a lead-off base hit. She came in to score off another RBI base hit from Fraley to tie the game back up at five.
With no more runs coming for either side in the next two frames, the stage was set for a dramatic bottom of the seventh. With Salisbury sophomore pitcher Alexis Layton in the circle, she gave up a lead-off walk. All of a sudden, the bases were loaded for the Mighty Macs after a base hit and another walk.
After a ground out to SU third baseman Kaila Beach with the force at home, SU had recorded only one out. Then, the Mighty Macs found their swing.
Immaculata right fielder Jessica Bormann smacked a hard ground ball that deflected off the glove of Fraley at shortstop, allow the winning run from third base to score for the win 6-5.
“It was a tough loss. Immaculata has some very good pitching and they kept us off balance at the plate and force a lot of fly balls from our hitters,” SU Head Coach Margie Knight said.
Game No. 2: Immaculata 3, Salisbury 5
The Sea Gull offense did not waste any time getting on the board in their rematch vs. Immaculata, getting a run in the first inning. Pietanza notched an RBI base hit, scoring Fraley to give SU a 1-0 lead.
Two more SU runs came across in the third inning when Ramagnano led off the frame with a base hit. She then advanced to third base off a Fraley single.
With runners on the corners, Immaculata catcher Emily Mesey tried to pick off Ramagnano at third base. However, the throw went past the third baseman and down the left field line, allowing Ramagnano to score while advancing Fraley to third base. A wild pitch then allowed Fraley to score giving SU a 3-0 lead.
Not done in the inning, SU’s Pietanza hit a solo home run to extend the lead to 4-0. The margin proved to be enough to give the Sea Gulls the victory in the end.
“Maderia got a homerun so I had to get one too,” Pietanza said.
SU senior pitcher Rachel Milligan was solid early in the circle, giving up only one hit in the first three innings. But the Mighty Macs made it interesting in the fourth inning by scoring two runs off three consecutive hits to cut the deficit down to two, 4-2.
Immaculata then scored another run in the top of sixth inning on an RBI double by Bartow to trailing only by one run.
Salisbury added an insurance run in the bottom of sixth inning off an RBI double by Sami Mumford, scoring Kristen Yanarella from second base.
After a stellar outing Saturday, Milligan recorded back-to-back complete game victories with her performance Sunday. She allowed six hits, three earned runs, and had six strikeouts in the game. Milligan has given up only those three runs in her last 12 innings of work
“Me and [catcher] Emily Allen are really synced up and that really helps me out a lot,” Milligan said.
With this spilt of the double header, Salisbury improves their record to 10-4 on the season. The Sea Gulls play Wednesday afternoon at Sea Gull Softball Stadium where they will face Manhattanville for a doubleheader. The first game starts at 1:30.
“Rachel and Emily did a great job of communicating what pitches to throw in certain situations and good things happened,” Coach Knight said. “She did a good job of mixing her speeds and staying out of the middle of the plate.”