McNealy, Johnson pitch squads into NCAA Division III semis

SALEM, Va. — Linfield’s Montana McNealy and NFCA All-American Rachel Johnson of Salisbury played “Can you top this?” in the circle on Elimination Saturday at the NCAA Division III Championship, leading their respective teams into Sunday’s semifinal round at the Moyer Sports Complex.


McNealy tossed a five-inning no-hitter in the Wildcats’ 8-0 shutout of DePauw shortly after Johnson closed out an one-hitter in the Sea Gulls’ 2-0 triumph over Kean. Both squads will need to win twice Sunday to reach Monday’s best-of-three Championship Series.

Salisbury, last year’s NCAA runner-up, plays a noon ET game against Texas-Tyler (49-3), while Linfield has a 2:30 p.m. showdown with two-time defending national champion Tufts (48-0), which has won 50 straight games dating to last season.

Linfield 8, DePauw 0 (five innings)

McNealy made sure the (39-14) Wildcats were one of the final four teams standing in Salem, retiring 15 of the 18 batters she faced. She struck out four, walked two and one hitter reached on a fielding error.

Linfield scored three runs on three hits in the bottom of the first, one in the third and four more in the fifth. Erin Carson had three hits and an RBI, while Grace Middelstadt singled, tripled and drove in two runs, Danielle Duman had her Division III-tying 20th homer of the season and Erin Tauscher singled and drove in two runs.

Alissa Buss stole home as part of a double steal with Carson to provide the run-rule margin for the Wildcats in the fifth. Linfield was the Division III titlist in 2007 and 2011 and runner-up in 2010 and 2012.

DePauw (36-16) finishes fifth for the fourth time in school history. The Tigers also tied for fifth in 2007, 2010 and 2011.

Salisbury 2, Kean 0

Johnson did not allow a hit until fellow All-American Emily Sabo singled leading off the seventh for Kean (31-15-1). She struck out 11 and walked one, throwing 64 of her 94 pitches for strikes and retiring her first nine in order.

On offense, Molly Simpson drove in Annah Brittingham twice for the (37-7) Sea Gulls, doubling her home in the fourth and plating her on a single in the sixth. Brittingham also had two hits in the victory.

Courtney Yard spaced out seven hits over seven innings and struck out three to close out her All-America career for the Cougars. In four seasons at Kean, Yard was 85-49 with 122 complete games, 847 strikeouts (6.61/game) and an 1.45 ERA.