NEWORT NEWS, Va. – The York College softball team suffered two defeats on day one of the 2015 Capital Athletic Conference Tournament and is eliminated from championship contention following a 6-4 loss to Mary Washington in game one and a 7-2 loss to #7 Salisbury in game two on Thursday at Christopher Newport University.
The fifth-seeded Spartans (19-15) suffered a heartbreaking defeat in game one as they owned a 4-2 lead through five-and-a-half innings, but fourth-seeded Mary Washington scored four runs in the bottom of the six, including a three-run home run to take a 6-4 lead that York could not overcome in the top of the seventh.
The Spartans scored a run with two outs in the top of the sixth to take the 4-2 lead when Vanessa Mendez (Lititz, Pa. / Warwick) singled to score Carleigh Ruleman (Owings, Md. / Northern) from third who reached on a single earlier in the inning. Following the RBI single by Mendez, York had a chance to put more runs on the board as Emily Glatts (Brookhaven, Pa. / Padua Academy) waited on third, but she was left stranded.
In the bottom of the sixth, back-to-back errors by the Spartan defense put the first two Eagle batters on base. The third batter up singled to right center to score one run and the next Mary Washington batter, Hannah Williams, homered to left center and just like that the Eagles took a 6-4 lead with no outs recorded in the inning. York managed to retire the next three batters to end the inning, but the damage had already been done.
The Spartans mounted little pressure in the top of the seventh as they drew a two-out walk and then grounded into a 6-4 fielder's choice to end the game.
Courtney Martin (Willow Street, Pa. / Lampeter-Strasburg) suffered the loss and falls to 14-11 as she surrendered six runs, four earned, on five hits with two strikeouts and one walk in six innings of work.
Ashton Ferneyhough received credit for the win and improves to 2-2 as she pitched two-and-a-third innings, giving up one run on three hits with one strikeout.
Courtney Merson earned the save as she pitched one inning, giving up no runs on no hits with one strikeout and one walk.
In game two the Spartans faced #7 Salisbury who drew the second seed and who was upset in the first game by third-seeded Frostburg State by a score of 4-0.
The Sea Gull offense showed up early and often, putting seven runs on the board in the first two innings on a pair of three-run home runs.
Errors once again put the Spartans in serious trouble as Salisbury managed to put its leadoff batter on second base following a single and a fielding error by York. The Spartans committed another error on the next play, allowing the runner on second to score. The next batter up for Salisbury reached on a fielder's choice, but no out was recorded on the play, so the Sea Gulls had two runners on for Annah Brittingham who cleared the bases with a three-run homer.
York couldn't answer back in the top of the second and the Sea Gulls continued to pile on in the bottom half of the inning. Salisbury started the second inning with consecutive singles and the third batter reached on a fielder's choice, but York managed to record an out on the play. However, with two runners still on base, the Sea Gulls took full advantage of the situation as Paige Knussman sent a ball over the center field fence for her team's second three-run home run of the game and took a commanding 7-0 lead.
The Spartans struggled to find any offense as they did not put a runner on base until the fourth inning when Katie Maloney (Aston, Pa. / Sun Valley) recorded York's first hit with a single to left field. York finally broke through in the fifth when a throwing error on a failed double play attempt by Salisbury allowed Ashley Lechner (Willow Street, Pa. / Lampeter-Strasburg) to score from second after she leadoff the inning with a single.
York put another run on the board in the sixth when Ruleman hit a two-out double to center field to score Savannah Zittle (Port Deposit, Md. / Catholic High School of Baltimore) who reached on a double earlier in the inning. Ruleman is now tied with Jayci Cristaudo (Mechanicsville, Md. / Chopticon) for the team lead with eight doubles.
Melissa Jurkiewicz (Oak Ridge, N.J. / Jefferson Township) suffered the loss for York and falls to 5-4 as she pitched one inning, surrendering six runs, two earned, on four hits.
Rachel Johnson earned the win and improves to 16-4 as she pitched a complete game, giving up two runs, one earned, on six hits with one walk and eight strikeouts.
The Spartans are now eliminating from the CAC Tournament, but will return to the diamond on Tuesday at Eastern University for a doubleheader starting at 3:00 p.m.
Carleigh Ruleman photo courtesy of David Sinclair