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Stony Brook softball swept in first-ever CAA series

Center fielder Alicia Orosco taking batting practice on Wednesday, Feb. 8. Orosco had a hit in all three games this past weekend at Elon. TIM GIORLANDO/THE STATESMAN

In its first series against a Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) opponent, the Stony Brook softball team met its match in every phase of the game.

This past weekend, the Seawolves (6-10, 0-3 CAA) struggled mightily down in North Carolina against the Elon Phoenix. Stony Brook lost game one 6-2 and was swept in a doubleheader on Saturday, losing 10-2 and 4-3 to complete a winless CAA debut. The team’s pitching was not good, and the bats were not hot enough to overcome the poor performances in the circle.

In the first game, Elon controlled momentum off the bat. In the bottom of the first inning, the Phoenix took an early lead with a two-run home run from first baseman Claudia Penny. Stony Brook did not respond until the third inning when it successfully pulled off a double steal with runners on the corners. Shortstop Kyra McFarland stole second base and drew the throw from the catcher, allowing right fielder Shauna Nuss to trot home with the game’s tying run.

With only one out and McFarland on second, Stony Brook was in a good position to tie the game. However, Elon starting pitcher McKenna McCard retired left fielder Alyssa Costello and catcher Corinne Badger to strand the run.

In the bottom of the third, Elon catcher Carley Davis gave her team some separation with a three-run double to right center. Three pitches later, shortstop Bella Devesa drove in Davis with a triple to deep center field, giving Elon a 6-1 lead. 

All was not lost though, as the Seawolves were able to load the bases in the top of the fourth inning against Elon relief pitcher Taylor Cherry. Nuss poked a single into left field to bring home designated player Julianna Sanzone, making it a 6-2 ballgame. 

Elon pulled Cherry in favor of relief pitcher Meredith Wells, who escaped a bases-loaded jam and dominated Stony Brook’s lineup. For the rest of the game, the Seawolves did not muster up another run and lost their first-ever CAA game.

Wells got the win for Elon, pitching 3 ⅔ scoreless innings out of the bullpen while only allowing one hit. She struck out two and walked none.

Starting pitcher Maddie Male struggled for Stony Brook, allowing six earned runs on six hits without striking out a batter in 2 ⅔ innings. Pitcher Ashton Melaas relieved Male and pitched 3 ⅓ innings, allowing zero runs on one hit while striking out one and walking none.

In the first game of the doubleheader on Saturday, Stony Brook struggled to keep up with Elon and was blown out 10-2. Elon struck first with a sacrifice fly from Penny in the bottom of the first inning, bringing home second baseman Megan Grant. 

Elon extended its lead when Badger committed a throwing error while trying to pick off third baseman Allee Seering between first and second base. Elon right fielder Drew Menscer came into score to make it 2-0.

Another defensive miscue by Stony Brook buried it before the end of the opening frame.

With two runners in scoring position and only one out, Devesa tried to drag a bunt to scratch across another run. Starting pitcher Mia Haynes picked the bunt up and flipped the ball to Badger, who slapped the tag down in time to save a run. After that, Devesa tried to take second base, but center fielder Alicia Orosco came up to cover the bag. Badger unleashed a good throw to Orosco, but she dropped the ball and it rolled to the warning track in center field. Two more runs scored to give Elon a 4-0 lead. 

Controversially, Badger was charged with another throwing error on the play.

Elon continued to dominate in the second inning when Penny lined a two-run double to knock Haynes out of the game. 

Stony Brook made small dents into Elon’s lead with an RBI fielder’s choice by Sanzone and a solo homer from first baseman Ashley Jacobson. Despite the Seawolves’ efforts, Elon kept its foot on the gas pedal and scored four more times to run-rule them in six innings. Davis delivered the final blow, smoking a double to the right-center field gap to walk the game off.

Despite a valiant effort in the final game of the series, Stony Brook found itself in the loss column once again. The Seawolves drew first blood in the top of the third inning with a solo home run by third baseman Brooke Dye in the third inning.

Sanzone doubled Stony Brook’s lead with a bases-loaded walk in the top of the fifth inning. Elon found the scoreboard in the bottom of the fifth, but Orosco got that run back with an RBI single up the middle to push her team’s lead to 3-1.

In the bottom of the sixth with two runners in scoring position, Devesa bunted back to the pitcher’s mound, but Seering beat Haynes’ throw to the plate and scored. Two batters later, Elon designated player Kaitlyn Wells doubled home a pair to give her team the lead.

That proved to be the game-winning hit, as Cherry slammed the door on Stony Brook in the top of the seventh.

Despite the losses, several Stony Brook players had strong performances over the course of the series. Orosco hit safely in all three games. She went 3-for-7 with an RBI, a run scored, four walks and a sacrifice bunt. McFarland also hit safely in all three games, going 3-for-11 with a walk and a stolen base. 

Second baseman Naiah Ackerman had her best series of the year, going 3-for-7 with a double and a hit-by-pitch. Dye went 3-for-9 with a home run, one RBI and two runs scored. 

Many of Stony Brook’s power bats went cold in this series. Badger, Costello, Sanzone and Jacobson combined for just one extra-base hit and two RBIs across the three games.

Stony Brook’s arms struggled immensely against Elon’s bats. As a team, the Seawolves allowed 20 runs (16 earned) on 23 hits in just 17 innings pitched. They only struck out seven hitters while walking seven and beaning two more. Elon batted .307 against Stony Brook’s pitching in the series.

Head coach Megan Bryant did not speak to the media after any of the three games.

The Seawolves will have a chance to heat their bats up again on Thursday against Sacred Heart in a doubleheader. The games are scheduled for 2 p.m. and 4 p.m., respectively. Sacred Heart is 7-8 on the season after beating Fairfield 6-3 on Saturday.

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