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The Statesman

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Stony Brook softball wins second CAA series of the year

Outfielder Alyssa Costello takes a pitch against Hampton on Saturday, April 22. Costello hit two home runs over the weekend in a series win against the Pirates. VIKRAM SETHI/THE STATESMAN

After letting game one slip away, the Stony Brook softball team picked up back-to-back mercy-rule wins to take its weekend series.

In a must-win series to stay alive, the Seawolves (19-23, 5-12 CAA) won two out of three games against the Hampton Pirates at University Field over the weekend. Stony Brook dropped the opening game of the doubleheader on Saturday 5-4, but bounced back in game two with an 8-0 run-rule victory. The team secured the series win on Sunday with another run-rule victory, winning 9-0 in five innings. Stony Brook has now won four of its last five games via the mercy-rule.

In the bottom of the first inning of game one, first baseman Ashley Jacobson clobbered a three-run home run to give Stony Brook a 3-0 lead. In the top of the third inning, Hampton cut into the Seawolves’ lead when center fielder Kayla Domon smacked a two-run double to make it a one-run ballgame.

In the next half-inning, Jacobson tacked on another run to Stony Brook’s lead by grounding an RBI single through the middle of the diamond.

Stony Brook took that 4-2 lead into the top of the sixth inning, where the Pirates finally broke through against starting pitcher Ashton Melaas. took the lead after three consecutive hits to open the top of the sixth inning. After allowing back-to-back hits to lead off the frame, Melaas served up a three-run home run to Hampton catcher Emily Kepple, giving the Pirates a 5-4 lead.

Stony Brook was presented with a golden opportunity to retake the lead in the bottom of the sixth inning, but it failed to come up with a clutch hit. With runners on second and third base and two outs, center fielder Alicia Orosco grounded out to strand them both.

In the bottom of the seventh inning, another opportunity presented itself. With the potential tying and winning runs on base, Jacobson popped out and second baseman Sofia Chambers flied out to right field to lose the game.

Head coach Megan Bryant was disappointed with the lack of clutch hitting, which has hurt the Seawolves all year long.

“We had multiple situations where we get another single or two and it makes the difference,” Bryant said in a postgame interview with The Statesman. “That’s been our achilles heel most of the season. We’ve had a lot of one-run games where we have left runners on base.”

Game two was much less competitive, as Stony Brook jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the second inning. Catcher Emily Reinstein started the five-spot when she reached on a run-scoring error by Hampton second baseman Nekia Aiken. Orosco added two more with a hard-hit, two-run double to deep left field. The rally concluded with a bang when left fielder Alyssa Costello smacked a two-run home run to left-center field.

With two outs in the bottom of the fifth inning, the Seawolves put the game to bed with three RBI doubles. Right fielder Catherine Anne Kupinski picked up the first one when she doubled up the right-center field gap to drive in Costello. After a walk to Jacobson, shortstop Hailey Guerrero knocked in Kupinski with an RBI double of her own. Catcher Emily Reinstein walked it off with yet another RBI double after Hampton right fielder Camryn Thompson failed to hold onto the ball while trying to make a diving catch.

After pitching two hitless innings in game one, starting pitcher Mia Haynes dominated Hampton’s lineup. She did not overpower the Pirates, but she induced soft contact all day and left five runners on base en route to a five-inning shutout. Over her five innings, she scattered six hits and walked only one batter while striking out two.

Haynes picked up her tenth win of the season, improving to 10-6 overall. She attributed all of the weak contact to the movement on her pitches.

“That’s something I’m looking to do,” Haynes said. “The more I spin it, the softer it’s going to get hit and I was getting the end result I wanted.”

On the rare occasion that Hampton did barrel one of Haynes’ pitches up, Stony Brook’s defense was ready. The biggest highlight came in the top of the fifth inning when Costello laid out to make a diving catch to potentially save a run.

Costello was phenomenal on both offense and defense in game two, going 2-for-3 with a homer to go along with a pair of runs and RBIs. She credited her simple approach to her success on the day.

“Just looking to stay small and not trying to do too much,” Costello said. “Just helping my team by being productive.”

Bryant attributed her team’s bounceback to a collective improvement in plate discipline.

“We were more determined and had better pitch selection,” Bryant said. “Just feeding off each other. We talked about stringing hits together and I thought we did a nice job of that in game two.”

Costello continued her impressive weekend in game three when she crushed a solo home run in the bottom of the first inning to start the scoring.

After walking the bases loaded in the top of the second inning, Haynes was able to produce yet another groundout to escape the jam. In the following half-inning, an RBI single by Chambers and a two-run double by Costello stretched Stony Brook’s lead to 4-0.

In the bottom of the third inning, Jacobson launched her second home run of the weekend to pad the lead. Later in the frame, a wild pitch advanced Reinstein to third base. Trying to throw her out, Kepple threw the ball into left field, allowing her to trot home and make it 6-0 Stony Brook.

The Seawolves put the game on ice in the bottom of the fourth inning when catcher Corinne Badger blasted a three-run homer to dead-center field. Haynes tossed a scoreless frame in the top of the fifth inning to put the mercy rule into effect and put the finishing touches on the win.

Stony Brook was dangerous up and down the lineup in game three, as eight of the nine batters in the starting lineup tallied a hit.

“We really want to be able to be productive throughout the lineup,” Bryant said. “Not just relying on one person. It’s tough when a team has to work hard on batters one through nine.”

Costello continued her hot streak over the series going 5-for-10 with a double, two home runs, five RBIs, four runs scored and a stolen base. Her prolonged hot streak has raised her batting average to a team-best .339, which is good for ninth in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA).

Costello said an improvement in her self-confidence has helped her recover from the slow start to her season.

My confidence has definitely gone up since the beginning of the season,” Costello said. “I felt like I wasn’t really stringing good at-bats together, but now that confidence is there.”

Jacobson continued to hit the cover off the ball on Sunday, going 3-for-3 with a homer and one RBI. In the series, Jacobson went 6-for-9 with two homers, five RBIs, five runs and a walk. She has now hit safely in 10 of her last 11 games.

Despite her ongoing hot streak, Jacobson said that she is simply just trying to help the team win.

“I’m just going up there and thinking about getting my barrel to the ball,” Jacobson said. “I’m also just trying to hit it hard to help out my teammates any way that I can.”

In the circle, Haynes pitched in all three games and picked up two wins. Overall, she tossed 12 scoreless innings, allowing just eight hits and five walks. She relied heavily on her defense, striking out only five hitters. She is now fourth in the CAA in innings pitched and has gone the distance 12 times, including four shutouts.

The Seawolves will be back in action on Wednesday when they host the Fordham Rams at 3 p.m. The Rams are 17-24 on the season after sweeping UMass over the weekend.

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