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Stony Brook softball looks to avenge early-season sweep in playoff matchup at Hofstra

The Stony Brook softball team breaks its huddle before a game against Monmouth on Friday, May 5. The Seawolves will play the Hofstra Pride in the second round of the 2023 CAA softball tournament. BRITTNEY DIETZ/THE STATESMAN

After winning an elimination game in the first round of the 2023 Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) softball tournament, the seventh-seeded Stony Brook softball team is now in the double-elimination portion of the bracket.

Following the Seawolves’ (26-25, 10-13 CAA) 5-3 win over Charleston on Tuesday, they will now take on the third-seeded Hofstra Pride in a playoff edition of the Battle of Long Island. The matchup will take place on Wednesday at 2:30 p.m. at Bill Edwards Stadium — Hofstra’s home — in Hempstead, N.Y. 

The Pride finished the season with a 24-24 record but they excelled in conference play, finishing the season 16-7 against CAA opponents. Stony Brook was swept by Hofstra in a three-game series back in March and were outscored by a combined total of 20-8.

If Stony Brook is to pull off the upset, it will likely come on the back of its stellar offense. The Seawolves have been very successful at the plate this year, as they are second in team batting average (.287) and on-base percentage (.349). They are also third in runs-per game (4.38) in the CAA.

The offense is headlined by star left fielder Alyssa Costello. She was selected to the 2023 All-CAA First Team on Tuesday morning and is currently second in the CAA in batting average at .389. Her 12 doubles are tied for fourth-most in the conference, while her eight home runs are tied for fifth. She is also fifth in the CAA in RBIs with 35. Her 1.068 on-base plus slugging is now second-best in the conference.

Catcher Corinne Badger also had a tremendous year. Her 14 home runs lead the CAA and her 32 RBIs place her at sixth-most in the conference. Her .575 slugging percentage is the sixth-best number in the CAA.

Other than just Costello and Badger, Stony Brook has other impact hitters in its lineup, such as center fielder Alicia Orosco, right fielder Catherine Anne Kupinski and first baseman Ashley Jacobson.

Orosco is one of the best leadoff hitters in the conference. She is currently 10th in the CAA with a .345 batting average. She is fifth in the CAA in runs scored with 33. Her 11 doubles tie for seventh-most in the CAA.

On the other hand, Kupinski and Jacobson are big power bats for Stony Brook. Jacobson has launched eight home runs this year, tying her with Costello for the second-most on the team. She is 10th in the CAA with 28 RBIs after hitting a sacrifice fly on Tuesday. Kupinski has hit six home runs this year and added eight doubles and 22 RBIs. Jacobson is batting .287 while Kupinski narrowly trails her at .285.

Stony Brook has another couple of platoon players who have rotated in and out of the starting lineup this year that have made an impact. Left fielder Julianna Sanzone has often been used as a designated player this year and has found some success swinging the bat. In 36 games played (27 starts), Sanzone is batting .289 with a .356 on-base percentage.

Outfielder Shauna Nuss has played both left and right field this year and has seen success as a slap hitter and a bunter. In 38 games played (29 starts), Nuss is batting .292 with a .373 on-base percentage and went 5-for-5 while stealing bases.

Backup catcher Emily Reinstein had a good sophomore year at the plate. She batted .294 and posted a .510 slugging percentage. She has started games in place of Badger behind the dish while also being occasionally used as a designated player and pinch hitter.

Middle infielder Naiah Ackerman has started games at both second base and shortstop this year and has had an up and down freshman season. However, she has had a handful of big games this year and reached on the game-winning error against Charleston. She is batting .228 this year and has 16 RBIs, tying her with Orosco for the fifth-most on the team. She was awarded a spot on the 2023 CAA All-Rookie Team on Tuesday. Fellow freshman shortstop Hailey Guerrero has had only 23 at-bats this year, but has batted .348 and slugged .565 in her limited opportunities.

In the pitcher’s circle, Stony Brook has been much less consistent. The Seawolves are sixth in the CAA with a 3.62 team ERA and have the fourth-worst batting average against at .287. They have also served up 29 home runs, which is tied for fourth-worst in the CAA.

Starting pitchers Mia Haynes and Ashton Melaas have both had up and down seasons. Haynes has posted a respectable 3.36 ERA through 35 games (25 starts) and just pitched a complete game against Charleston. Her 17 wins co-leads the CAA. She is a big innings eater, as she leads the CAA with 160 ⅓. Despite that, opponents are hitting .294 against her.

Melaas also appeared in 34 games (23 starts) and posted a 3.52 ERA, but was susceptible to the longball. She allowed the second most home runs in the conference with 15. Melaas’ 147 innings pitched ranked right behind Haynes on the CAA leaderboard.

Hofstra’s bats match up well with Stony Brook’s arms. The Pride have the fourth-highest scoring offense in the CAA at 4.15 runs per game. As a team, they batted .264 in the regular season, which was good for fifth-best in the conference. They also play solid defense, as they are fifth in team fielding percentage and have committed the fifth fewest errors in the CAA.

Hofstra’s offense is led by shortstop Meghan Giordano, who led the CAA with 41 RBIs. Her .340 batting average places her at 11th in the conference, and her 13 home runs are second to only Badger. She is also very patient, as she has drawn the fifth-most walks (27) in the league. Her 1.142 on-base plus slugging leads the CAA. Her 34 runs scored are the fourth-most in the conference. She was selected to the 2023 All-CAA Second Team for her performance.

Hofstra second baseman Kasey Collins was selected to the 2023 All-CAA First Team after batting .318 in the regular season. Her 30 walks tied her with two other players for the conference lead. Her .429 on-base percentage is currently fourth-best in the CAA. By virtue of her on-base skills, Collins has scored the third-most runs in the CAA this year with 35.

Hofstra center fielder Chelsea Manto was dynamic for the team as well this year, batting .304 and stealing 25 bases in 27 attempts. She scored 30 runs, which is tied for 12th-most in the CAA. She was also selected to the All-CAA First Team.

Hofstra first baseman Angelina Ioppolo also had a good year at the plate despite receiving no All-Conference recognition for it. She is batting .288 this year and leads the Pride with 11 doubles. Ioppolo’s 22 RBIs are the third-best total on the team.

Hofstra third baseman Alanna Morse earned a selection to the 2023 All-CAA Rookie Team for batting .277 with seven doubles and 23 RBIs. She trailed only Giordano on the team’s leaderboard in RBIs. Hofstra catcher Becca Vaillancourt also had a good year, batting .271 with a .360 on-base percentage while starting in all 48 of the team’s games.

Similar to Stony Brook, Hofstra’s pitching has been middle of the pack this year. It ranks fifth in team ERA (3.53) and sixth in batting average against (.286). The Pride’s pitching has been good in close games, as they lead the conference with six saves.

Hofstra head coach Adrienne Clark has several pitchers that she likes to use. Hofstra starting pitcher Haley Venturini has a 3.14 ERA this year, which is the ninth-best ERA in the CAA. Hofstra pitchers Julia Apsel and Nikki Mullin were used both as starters and relievers.

Mullin was the more effective of the two, appearing in 24 games (12 starts) and posting a 3.49 ERA across 84 ⅓ innings. She led the team with three saves, but also yielded a .288 batting average against. Apsel pitched in 25 games and started 13, but struggled to a 4.34 ERA in 90 ⅓ innings. Opponents batted .310 against Apsel in the regular season. However, she has tossed five complete games to lead the team.

Hofstra relief pitchers Anna Butler and Annabella Pisapia have pitched well in limited action this year. Butler is a two-way player and has pitched in only seven games this year (two starts), but has posted a 1.31 ERA in 21 ⅓ innings. She is coming off a complete game against University of North Carolina Wilmington. Pisapia pitched in 17 games this year (four starts), posting a 3.07 ERA across 43 ⅓ innings.

If Stony Brook wins, it will move on to face the top-seeded Delaware Blue Hens, who also swept the Seawolves back in early April. If Stony Brook loses, it will play the loser of the Elon-Towson game. The Elon Phoenix are the fourth seed, while the Towson Tigers are the fifth seed. Elon swept Stony Brook in its first-ever CAA series back in March, while the Seawolves took two out of three games from Towson in the last week of April.

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About the Contributor
Anthony DiCocco
Anthony DiCocco, Assistant Sports Editor
Anthony DiCocco is an Assistant Sports Editor at The Statesman. He is a sophomore majoring in journalism with aspirations of becoming a sports journalist. His love of sports derives from years of playing dek hockey and watching his favorite teams, the New York Islanders, New York Mets and New York Jets. He is the beat reporter for Stony Brook’s hockey and softball teams. He has also covered football, baseball, men’s lacrosse and men’s soccer. He was previously the Editor-in-Chief of his high school newspaper the Devil’s Tale at Plainedge High School. He is a local product from North Massapequa, N.Y.
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