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CNU softball claims Coast 2 Coast conference title

The #1 nationally ranked Captains beat #2 ranked Salisbury University in the tournament championship game.

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — For the second straight day, the top-ranked Captains of Christopher Newport University defeated second-ranked Salisbury University to wrap up the 2022 Coast-To-Coast Athletic Conference Tournament Championship. Keith Parr's team battled back from an early 4-1 deficit, scoring nine unanswered runs, to record a 10-4 triumph at Captains Park.

Christopher Newport, now 37-1, receives an automatic bid to the upcoming NCAA Tournament which begins next Thursday, May 12th. It will be CNU's 15th straight NCAA appearance, and 19th in the 38-year history of the program.

The Captains had defeated the Sea Gulls on Thursday, 5-0, behind the shutout pitching of freshman Jamie Martin, and Martin again played a big part in Friday's victory. After entering in relief in the third inning with the game tied 4-4, Martin shut down the Gulls with five more innings of shutout ball. The lefty from Lorton, Va., allowed just one bunt hit and struck out five, retiring 15 of 16 Sea Gulls she faced over the final five frames. Martin improved her record to 15-1 as the Captains ran their record to 21-0 at home this season on a partly cloudy day in front of 503 fans.

Salisbury, now 36-6, had ousted Mary Washington from the three-team, double elimination tournament earlier in the day with a 6-1 victory over the Eagles. Four of SU's losses this year have come at the hands of CNU, and all at Captains Park.

The Sea Gulls scored twice in the opening frame, only to have the Captains answer with a run in the bottom of the inning. Senior Caroline Helmer delivered a single to left field, scoring senior Kaitlyn Hasty, who had been hit by a pitch, to make it 2-1. The Gulls would add two more in the top of the second to move ahead by a 4-1 margin, but would not score again as Martin went to work from the CNU bullpen.

Christopher Newport's bats erupted for three runs in the bottom of the second to even the game at 4-4. Senior Bailey Roberts plated senior Sarah Proctor with a single up the middle to make it 4-2. Proctor had opened the inning with a double to left-center field. Senior Kaitlyn Hasty then stepped to the plate and crushed her 18th home run of the season, a line drive shot to left, to knot the game at 4-4. The blast was Hasty's 52nd career home run, most-ever in program history and leaves her just one shy of the single season mark of 19 that Hasty set as a freshman in 2019.

CNU surged ahead, 6-4, thanks to a key hit from another senior, Maddie Hool. With the bases loaded, Hool delivered a single to left-center, bringing home both Helmer and senior Natalie Carmichael to give Martin all the run production she would need. The Captains sealed the victory and conference title with four unearned runs in the sixth frame to put the game away, as the Sea Gulls committed three of their four errors in the sixth. Sophomore Brooke Greaver's sacrifice fly scored pinch-runner Jules Donnelly to make it a 7-4 advantage. Proctor later cracked her second double of the game, bringing home Carmichael and sophomore Katie Currin, for a 9-4 lead. Proctor would then cross the plate thanks to an SU miscue, providing the 10-4 final verdict.

Eight different Captains recorded base hits as Christopher Newport tallied ten runs on 11 hits. Proctor and Helmer were both 2-for-3 at the dish and Currin was 2-for-4. In the two victories over Salisbury in the tourney, the Captains racked up 15 runs on 21 hits. The Captains and Sea Gulls have now played 93 times, and CNU holds a 48-43 lead in the all-time series. There have also been two ties.

The Captains will carry a 14-game winning streak into the NCAA's. CNU won its first 23 games this year before losing the second game of a doubleheader at Averett University on March 27th, the lone defeat for the Captains this season.

The field for the 2022 NCAA Division III Tournament will be released on Monday at 1:00 p.m.