By: Steve Miller – Staff Writer
In its home opener Sunday, the Dayton softball team swept both games of a doubleheader from the Akron Zips, 5-0 and 1-0. The Flyers were returning from more than a week off games due to weather and improved their season record to 9-10, while keeping the Zips off the scoreboard for all 14 innings between the two games.
Dayton shelled out 10 hits in game one, as junior infielder Hannah DeSalvo led the way with three runs batted in. Sophomore pitcher Manda Cash tossed all seven innings for her second win of the season, a three-hit, nine-strikeout shutout.
The Flyers took longer to get going offensively in game two, scratching across just one hit over the first four innings. Luckily for UD, freshman pitcher Jessica Gilliam kept the Zips’ offense at bay as well.
In the fifth inning, DeSalvo doubled with one out and scored later on an error, giving the Flyers the game’s only run.
“Their pitcher did a good job, we didn’t adjust as quickly,” head coach Cara LaPlaca said after the game. “I think we were just waiting to be patient, and once we did that we were able to get that one run that we needed.”
Gilliam pitched five innings and allowed four hits before junior Gabrielle Snyder relieved her in the sixth. She recorded two outs before Cash returned to action to finish out the Zips.
“When they’re doing well, they’re trusting their pitches,” LaPlaca said of her pitchers. “And each of them brings a different kind of look to batters. Particularly with this game when we saw three of them in combination for a shutout, they’re able to utilize their strengths and keep our opposing offense off balance.”
Before Sunday, Dayton was on a five-game losing skid, falling to Miami (OH), twice to Eastern Kentucky, Louisville and Michigan, who was ranked second in the nation at the time.
“We build our schedule intentionally. We want to be challenged heading into our conference season. We want to be facing some of the toughest opponents that we have all season,” LaPlaca said Sunday. “They certainly exposed some of our areas that we need to clean up, and I think that really helped us prepare for today.”
The Flyers are home-and-home with crosstown rival Wright State this week, playing at UD Tuesday and in Fairborn Wednesday. St. Joseph’s comes in for a three-game weekend series to kick off Atlantic 10 conference play Friday.
For updates on the Flyers this softball season, follow @FlyerNewsSports.
Photo: Freshman pitcher Jessica Gilliam got her fourth win of the season in the Flyers’ 1-0 win over Akron in the second game of a Sunday doubleheader at the UD Softball Stadium. Gilliam (4-5) pitched five innings and gave up four hits while striking out two. Chris Santucci/Multimedia Editor