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Salisbury Athletics | May 26, 2014

Salisbury beats St. Thomas (Minn.) to reach championship series

Salisbury will play in its third championship series. Salisbury will play in its third championship series.

TYLER, Texas -- It took extra innings to do so, but No. 4 Salisbury advanced to the final two at the NCAA Division III Softball Championship with a 3-2 win Sunday against St. Thomas (Minn.).

It marks the third time the Sea Gulls have been a finalist for a softball title, though they were unable to secure the championship in 2003 and '05.

The Tommies (44-9) would get on the board first, plating a run in the bottom of the third inning when Jenna Hoffman singled with two outs, and a Sea Gull throwing error would allow Kirstin Bigelbach to score from second base.

The unearned run was the first that Salisbury had surrendered at the championship tournament, and it marked the first deficit the Sea Gulls have faced since April 19 in the Capital Athletic Conference tournament.

The Sea Gulls (43-3) would come back with single runs in the fourth and fifth innings to take a 2-1 lead.

In the fourth, sophomore Kim Dorsey tripled to open the inning and scored easily on classmate Paige Knussman's double to left-center field to tie the game. A walk and a single would load the bases with no outs, but the Gulls could not push another run across.

Knussman was able to get it done again in the fifth inning, with another double, this time with two outs, putting the Sea Gulls on top 2-1, plating senior Angelia McDowell.

St. Thomas was able to string together three of its eight hits in the game in the bottom of the sixth to tie the game. A two-out single by Erin Mussett plated Bianca Peterson to tie the game off Salisbury starting pitcher Rachel Johnson.

Johnson would surrender just one more hit, that coming in the eighth inning, before the Sea Gulls would come through with the game-winner in the top of the ninth inning.

Senior Angela Malgieri opened the ninth with a single and advanced to second when sophomore Molly Simpson ripped a base hit to left field.

Johnson would sacrifice the runners into scoring position and an intentional walk to Harley Hill loaded the bases. After a strikeout, Dorsey came up with the hit that would send the Sea Gulls on unbeaten in the tournament, a single to left field, scoring Malgieri for the 3-2 lead.

Johnson would retire the side in order in the bottom of the ninth to finish the win. She struck out seven in the victory, while walking just one. Dorsey and Knussman were each 2-for-5 in the game.

Salisbury will play Tufts on Monday, in what has essentially become a best-of-three championship series. Tufts, the defending national champion, is also undefeated in the double-elimination event, following an 8-0 win, in five innings, against Wisconsin-Whitewater on Sunday.

The teams will play two games on Monday. If the squads split the two games, the title game will take place Tuesday.