EWING, N.J. --- Senior pitcher Josie Novak tossed her second straight shutout to lead the No. 8 Moravian College softball team to a 3-0 win over Salisbury (Md.) University to force the if necessary game of the 2018 NCAA Division III Ewing, New Jersey Regional Monday afternoon.
The Greyhounds, now 35-6 on the year, will be back on the field against the Sea Gulls in a winner-takes-all game to advance to next weekend's NCAA Division III Super Regionals. The Hounds and Salisbury are playing for the third time in a regional final and the squads are 5-5 in their 10 NCAA contests.
"We put runners on early in each of the first four innings and finally cracked it open with Kat coming up big," stated Head Coach John Byrne. "We got another home run to ice it. Josie started on a roll yesterday and she obviously doesn't want her season or career to end. I couldn't ask for any better performance in the first game today. They came out and laid everything on the line. Now it comes down to a one-game season to move one so we need."
Novak allowed just one hit for her eighth shutout of the spring and 33rd of her career. Novak is now 19-3 in the circle this spring and moved into a tie for second in the program record books with her 75th career win. She struck out eight batters in the contest to give her 37 strikeouts in 24 innings at the regional.
"My emotions have helped the last two games since it is my senior year so I don't want it to end," Novak commented. "Janae and I have been together for four years, and she definitely keeps me in check."
"I think Josie's performances the last three days are as good as any I've had in 25 years here," Byrne said. "The big players step up in big games, and she certainly did that. I wouldn't expect anything else from her on this stage, and I couldn't be more proud of her."
Moravian had nine hits in the game with junior center fielder Kat Spilman going 3-for-4 with a home run and two RBIs. Senior catcher Janae Matos was 2-for-3 while freshman right fielder Brooke Wehr went 2-for-4 with a homer.
"A lot of the coaches have told us this season that you need to find something that you can drive so I've come up with the mindset to get the first pitch I can drive," Spilman stated. "I just feel like I'm seeing the ball really well and striding well."
The Greyhounds put a pair of runners on base in the top of the first inning with two-out singles by Spilman and Matos but Moravian was unable to score.
Senior first baseman Jean Markovic singled with one out in the top of the second frame but would be stranded at second base, Spilman reached on a fielder's choice and Matos singled again in the third inning; however, both would be left on base. Junior third baseman Madison Shaneberger led off the fourth inning with a double but was picked off of second base.
Moravian eventually broke the scoreless tie with a pair of runs in the top of the fifth inning. Wehr started off the frame with a double to right center field and moved to second on a ground out by junior left fielder Julia DeMarco. Spilman followed with a two-run homer to left field, her second of the tournament, eight home run of the season and 20th of her career.
"Kat is seeing the ball really well, and she gets in that groove it seems like every year at this time," noted Byrne. "When the weather gets warm in the postseason, she hits that stride to where you feel excited when she's up at the plate."
The Blue and Grey extended the lead to 3-0 in the top of the seventh when Wehr connected on a solo home run to left field to start the frame. It was her team-leading 12th homer of the year to tie the school record for a single season and her ninth solo home run of the year.