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Stony Brook softball drops three of five in FIU Tournament

Shortstop Kyra McFarland fields her position in a practice on Wednesday, Feb. 8. McFarland added another five hits to continue her strong season at the Florida International University (FIU) Tournament last weekend. TIM GIORLANDO/THE STATESMAN

After an incredible run in the 2022 Florida International University (FIU) Tournament — where catcher Corinne Badger hit six home runs — the Stony Brook softball team looked to repeat its success. Despite another incredible performance from Badger, she could not power her team to a successful tournament appearance this time.

With an opportunity to build momentum going into conference play, the Seawolves (6-7) won only two of their five games this past weekend in the 2023 FIU Tournament. Stony Brook opened the tournament with a doubleheader on Friday, winning 10-1 over Stonehill and losing 10-3 to Nevada. In another doubleheader on Saturday, Stony Brook split a pair against FIU, losing 8-5 before winning 8-7. On Sunday, the team lost to Nevada again, being shut out 5-0.

The Seawolves began the tournament on Friday morning against the Stonehill Skyhawks. Badger picked up right where she left off a season ago, with a home run each of her first three trips to the plate against Stonehill, en route to a 10-1 win in five innings.

Badger was not the only Seawolf to put runs on the board. After Badger’s first home run in the top of the second inning, center fielder Alicia Orosco doubled home a pair down the left field line. Two batters later, shortstop Kyra McFarland poured it on with a hard-hit, two-run single right up the middle to make it 5-0 Stony Brook.

Badger was on a mission, as she led off the third inning with her second home run. Later in the inning, right fielder Shauna Nuss padded Stony Brook’s lead with a sacrifice fly. In the next inning, Badger struck one more time, powering a two-run bomb to left field to put Stony Brook up 9-1. McFarland stole home in the top of the fifth inning to put the game out of reach, as Stony Brook run-ruled Stonehill in five innings.

Starting pitcher Mia Haynes also had an outstanding performance, tossing a five-inning complete game and surrendering just one run against Stonehill. The reigning Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) Pitcher of the Week racked up six strikeouts and scattered just three hits to earn her fourth win of the season.

In the second game of the tournament, Stony Brook fell behind 8-0 to the Nevada Wolf Pack. Starting pitcher Maddie Male was pulled from the game after allowing a leadoff home run to start the top of the fourth inning. Relief pitcher Amanda Flynn replaced Male and made her NCAA debut, but struggled mightily, surrendering five earned runs in 1 ⅓ innings.

The Seawolves rallied and put together a three-run bottom of the fifth inning, with a McFarland RBI single and a two-run single from Badger. By cutting its deficit to five, Stony Brook avoided the mercy rule.

However, the Wolf Pack extended their lead in the top of the seventh with a two-run home run from second baseman Maile Olsen. That gave Nevada a 10-3 lead, which it held on to.

Head coach Megan Bryant was pleased with her team’s performance in game one, but felt like the story changed in the second game.

“We took care of business in game one and had the momentum the entire game,” Bryant said in a postgame interview with Stony Brook Athletics. “Corinne certainly had herself a game with the three home runs and just had a great approach at the plate.

“I thought we made some big plays defensively, but we gave a good offensive team too much in that fourth [inning]. We will learn a lot from this last game.”

On the second day of the FIU Tournament, Stony Brook split its games against the tournament’s host.

During the first game, FIU established an early 4-0 lead. The Panthers scored two runs in each of the first two innings, aided by three errors from third baseman Brooke Dye.

Stony Brook did not back down and responded with a four-run, two-out rally in the fourth. The Seawolves got on the scoreboard with an RBI double by designated player Julianna Sanzone and an RBI single by second baseman Naiah Ackerman. Back-to-back errors by FIU pitcher Sydney Birling and shortstop Ashton Lansdell allowed Stony Brook to knot the game up.

Stony Brook took a 5-4 lead in the top of the fifth when first baseman Ashley Jacobson homered to center field. However, she committed a crucial error in the bottom half of the inning to enable a comeback by FIU.

Following Jacobson’s error, a two-run homer by Lansdell gave FIU the lead. A couple of batters later, FIU catcher Isabella Perez doubled home center fielder Alexis Ross to make it 7-5. In the bottom of the sixth inning, FIU third baseman Abigail Brown scored on a wild pitch to put the finishing touches on the game.

The Seawolves bounced back later that day, winning a back-and-forth game. After allowing two runs in the bottom of the first inning to fall behind 2-1, Stony Brook scored four runs in the top of the second to take the lead back. Left fielder Alyssa Costello knocked a two-run double to cap off the inning, giving her team a 5-2 lead.

A home run from Lansdell cut into Stony Brook’s lead, but Sanzone and Nuss both hit RBI singles in the top of the fifth to make it 7-3. However, FIU scored a pair of runs in both the fifth and sixth innings to tie the game up.

In the top of the seventh inning, with the bases loaded and two outs, Orosco poked a single to third base that brought home Sanzone. The hit proved to be the game-winner, as pitcher Ashton Melaas tossed a perfect 1-2-3 inning to secure her first-career save.

Bryant was pleased with her team’s resilience displayed in game two.

“It was a true team win, and we had to grind it out,” Bryant said. “These are the types of games that are important to the development of our team and will get us ready for CAA play.”

In the final game of the tournament, Nevada silenced the Seawolves’ bats. The Wolf Pack set the tone early with RBI singles from catcher Aaliyah Jenkins and designated player Charli Hawkins. Nevada doubled its lead in the second inning and put the game away with a home run from Olsen in the sixth. 

Nevada starting pitcher Carley Brown pitched a shutout, allowing only four hits and a walk while striking out five batters over seven innings.

At the plate, four Seawolves had very good tournament performances. Badger led the way, going 8-for-17 with three home runs, six RBIs, four runs and a walk. She hit safely in all five games.

Orosco went 6-for-18 with three doubles, four RBIs, five runs scored, a walk and a sacrifice bunt. While batting behind her, McFarland did it all for Stony Brook. She went 5-for-16 with four RBIs, three walks, a hit-by-pitch, two runs and three steals.

Nuss had a good series from the bottom of Stony Brook’s order, going 7-for-12 with two RBIs, two runs, one walk and a sacrifice fly.

The Seawolves will start CAA play with a three-game series down in North Carolina against the Elon Phoenix. They will open with a doubleheader on Saturday. Game one will begin at noon, while game two will start at 2:30 p.m. Elon is a bleak 5-14 on the season, and is currently on a six-game losing streak. The Phoenix will play Detroit Mercy on Tuesday before their matchup with Stony Brook.

 

 

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