Mills homers as No. 1 Salisbury beats Piedmont to win region; Johnson MVP
SALEM, Va. -- Hannah Mills hit a two-run home run with two outs in the bottom of the first inning and No. 1 Salisbury was on its way to an 8-0 victory against Piedmont on Monday to win the Salem Regional and advance to its seventh Division III championship.
The Sea Gulls (39-2) started the game the same as they did the previous day with two early runs. Michelle Gravdahl reached first with a single to shortstop, beating out the throw to put a runner on with two outs before Mills delivered her 10th homer of the season with a drive to center field.
Piedmont (34-10) had its chances to tie the game, putting runners on in every inning except the seventh, but pitcher Rachel Johnson and the Salisbury defense were able to strand runners on the bags to pick up their second shutout of the regional.
It was not until the sixth inning that the Sea Gulls' bats caught fire, scoring four runs on four hits. Sarah Alpaugh led off the inning with a single to center field, Gravdahl walked and Mills reached first with a single to right field to load the bases. Paige Knussman drove a shot to right field for two RBIs and a 4-0 lead. Two batters later, Lindsay McCabe hit a sharp grounder to shortstop and beat the throw to first while Mills came home. Mills went 2-for-3 with three runs scored and two RBIs. Harley Hill collected the final RBI of the inning with a single through the right side.
Johnson kept control in the circle, going all seven innings for Salisbury. She earned her 26th win with three strikeouts, three walks and five hits. She was named regional most valuable player.
Salisbury scored its final runs of the game off the bats of McCabe and Carly Read in the seventh.
Salisbury moves on to the championship round and will face Cortland State at noon ET Friday. The Red Dragons defeated Lebanon Valley 7-0 in the Ithaca Regional final Monday.
Besides Johnson, Gravdahl, Mills and Hill also were named to the all-tournament team.