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The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


Stony Brook softball loses four of five in Felsberg Invitational

Shortstop Kyra McFarland throws to first base during a practice on Jan. 24. McFarland led the Stony Brook softball team with four hits this past weekend. BRITTNEY DIETZ/THE STATESMAN

Behind some unfruitful at-bats, the Stony Brook softball team had a rough trip down south to open its 2024 season.

Competing in the Felsberg Invitational tournament, the Seawolves (1-4) opened their season in Miami this past weekend at Felsberg Field: the home of the Florida International University (FIU) Panthers.

Their weekend began on Friday morning with a 7-5 loss to the Southeast Missouri State (SEMO) Redhawks (3-2), but they bounced back that afternoon with a 7-5 upset win over the Ohio State Buckeyes (4-1). On Saturday, they were run-ruled 12-0 in five innings by FIU (2-3) and again lost by mercy rule 9-0 in six innings to Ohio State. On Sunday, the tournament wrapped up with SEMO edging out Stony Brook 5-4 to complete the tough first week.

To kick off the season, the Seawolves sent starting pitcher Mia Haynes to the circle against the Redhawks’ offense. Just two batters into Haynes’ season, SEMO center fielder Paige Halliwill took her deep to left-center field. However, catcher Corinne Badger got the run back with a leadoff home run in the top of the second inning.

From there, the wheels fell off for the Seawolves. After an error by shortstop Kyra McFarland in the bottom of the third inning, the Redhawks took the lead back on a run-scoring single through the right side by first baseman Aubrie Shore.

In the bottom of the fourth inning, SEMO second baseman Abigail Rickermann picked up a run batted in (RBI) with a line-drive single to right field. After a series of fielder’s choices, Halliwill lofted a fly ball to left field, allowing Rickermann to tag up and score. Shore followed up with a line drive up the middle to drive in shortstop Sydney Dennis, putting the Redhawks up 5-1.

With runners on the corners in the bottom of the sixth inning, starting pitcher Ashton Melaas made her season debut in relief and threw a costly wild pitch that scored Dennis and moved Shore up to second base. Now with a runner in scoring position, SEMO designated player Kat Sackett cashed in with an RBI single to put the game out of reach.

Stony Brook gave a valiant effort in the top of the seventh inning, as back-to-back singles by left fielder Julianna Sanzone and third baseman Brooke Dye set the table. Second baseman Naiah Ackerman pinch hit for first baseman Chloe Montalvo and slapped an infield single over to third baseman Kynzie Wrigley, who threw the ball away and allowed a run to score. Second baseman Sofia Chambers kept the line moving with an RBI single to left field, advancing Ackerman to third base.

With runners on first and third base, the Seawolves pulled off a successful double steal to scratch across another run, making it 7-4. After a groundout by center fielder Alicia Orosco, McFarland singled to bring the tying run to the plate, but right fielder Alyssa Costello rolled over, as well. A run scored on Costello’s groundout, but it put Stony Brook down to its last at-bat. The Redhawks finally put an end to the craziness when relief pitcher Delaney Kell struck out Badger to end it.

In the second game of the tournament, the Seawolves utilized their newest weapon: starting pitcher Gabrielle Maday. They staked Maday to a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning when Orosco slapped an RBI single to left field. However, the top of the third was rough for her, as the Buckeyes plated three against her with an RBI fielder’s choice from designated player Sam Hackenbracht and a two-run single by second baseman Kaitlyn Farley.

Maday escaped further trouble and her offense picked her up, starting with a leadoff walk by Costello and an RBI triple by Badger. Designated player Catherine Anne Kupinski singled Badger home to tie the game at three apiece. A pair of walks loaded the bases with one out, setting up Chambers for an RBI hit-by-pitch to break the tie. Orosco kept the line moving with a bases-loaded walk to force in another run and a two-RBI single by McFarland through the middle put Stony Brook up 7-3.

In the top of the sixth inning, Ohio State center fielder Melina Wilkison halved the Seawolves’ lead with a two-run home run to make it a 7-5 ballgame. However, Maday retired the final four hitters to slam the door.

Head coach Megan Bryant was impressed by her team’s balanced performance.

“We played a complete game to beat Ohio State — great pitching, defense and offensive approach,” Bryant said in a postgame interview with Stony Brook Athletics. “We were able to generate and keep momentum and our composure. It’s a good team win and a terrific response after the first game of the day.”

Despite the big win on Friday, Stony Brook was unable to carry that momentum into Saturday. During their noon matchup against the Panthers, Haynes toed the rubber again, but once again, things did not go well for her. In the bottom of the first inning, FIU catcher Casey Goguts pulled an RBI double down the left-field line to start the scoring.

In the next frame, the Panthers scratched across three more, starting with a drag bunt by center fielder Kally Meredith that Badger picked up and threw away, leading to a run. Now with two runners in scoring position, FIU left fielder Collier Peaden lined a two-RBI single up the middle to make it 4-0.

With the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the third inning, second baseman Zamya McBurrows doubled home a pair off Haynes to knock her out of the game and go up 6-0. Bryant gave the ball to relief pitcher Maddie Male, who retired the side before coming back out to start the fourth frame.

In the bottom of the fourth inning, a bunt single by Peaden and an error by Male put two runners on for Goguts, who unleashed a three-run bomb to left field to push the Panthers’ lead to nine.

After the home run, Bryant replaced Male with Melaas, but nothing changed. Melaas issued a double and a walk before FIU catcher Natalie Burns drove both runners in with a pinch-hit double. Two batters later, Meredith singled home Burns to make it 12-0.

In the top of the fifth frame, the Panthers nailed home the victory with a perfect inning from starting pitcher Brooke McNichols to invoke the mercy rule. In five innings, McNichols pitched a one-hit shutout with one strikeout and no walks.

Later in the day, the Buckeyes got another crack at Maday and got some payback on her. In the bottom of the second inning, left fielder Tegan Cortelletti lifted a sacrifice fly to center field to start the scoring. Maday retired seven of the next nine hitters to keep the Seawolves’ deficit at just a run.

Once the bottom of the fifth inning, the whole game changed. Back-to-back singles boarded two runners for Ohio State first baseman Hannah Church, who blasted the first pitch from Maday over the center-field wall to make it 4-0. Bryant responded by pulling Maday in favor of Haynes, who allowed the first three runners to reach. After inducing a fielder’s choice to get the force out at home, Haynes walked Cortelletti to force in another run.

The Buckeyes maintained their five-run advantage with a hitless top of the sixth from starting pitcher Emily Ruck, who did not allow a hit through six innings pitched. In the bottom half of the frame, Ruck’s offense secured her no-hitter by scoring another four runs to force the mercy. An error by Chambers allowed the first run to score and a walk-off three-run double by Hackenbracht ended things early.

In the getaway game against SEMO on Sunday, things started perfectly for Stony Brook, as Kupinski ripped a two-run single down the left-field line in the top of the first inning to start the scoring. However, the Redhawks answered right away with a game-tying two-run shot by Halliwill off Melaas.

In the top of the second inning, the Seawolves loaded the bases with nobody out but failed to do the job on the first two tries. Now with the bags juiced and two out, Badger worked the count full before taking a walk to drive in another run and go up 3-2.

Melaas held the lead with a 1-2-3 bottom of the second inning before coughing it up immediately in the third. After a single by Dennis and a walk by Halliwill, Shore smacked a three-run homer to center, putting SEMO up 5-3.

In the top of the fourth inning, a leadoff single by catcher Emily Reinstein and a walk by Orosco set the table for McFarland, who advanced them both with a slow ground ball out to the pitcher. Costello flied one out to deep left field, allowing Reinstein to tag up and score to cut the deficit in half.

The Redhawks’ defense ended the rally there, as Badger pulled a line drive right into the glove of third baseman Abby Robbins to end the frame. Over the next three innings, SEMO relief pitchers Maddie Carney and Tegan Livesay combined to retire the final nine Stony Brook hitters to lock down the win.

After having a nightmarish Saturday performance, Bryant was pleased to see her team get closer to a victory on Sunday.

“We played a solid and better all-around game today, which was great to see, but it was a winnable game,” Bryant said. “We had runners on base in good scoring opportunities and didn’t capitalize enough on those.”

McFarland led the Seawolves offense with four hits during the tournament, but she had none over the final three games and finished just 4-for-17. Reinstein did well with her limited opportunities, collecting two hits in seven at-bats.

Despite going just 2-for-13, Badger reached base in six out of 17 plate appearances while slugging the Seawolves’ only two extra-base hits of the tournament. She co-led the team alongside Kupinski with three RBIs.

In the circle, Maday nearly doubled Haynes to lead the staff in innings. The nine earned runs she allowed over her 15 ⅓ innings pitched gave her a 4.11 earned run average (ERA) in the tournament. The southpaw also held opposing batters to a .250 batting average against — the lowest clip of any Stony Brook arm. Haynes struggled in her first action of the spring, allowing 12 earned runs in 8 ⅓ innings for a 10.08 ERA.

Melaas and Male struggled mightily in much smaller samples. Melaas allowed eight earned runs in four innings while surrendering a pair of home runs and a .417 batting average against. Male only threw two-thirds of an inning this weekend but allowed a three-run homer, and two of the runs were earned.

The Seawolves will return to a familiar site in Baltimore when they compete in the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) Round Robin. Their four-game stay in Maryland will commence with a doubleheader on Saturday, starting with a 12:30 p.m. affair against the Morgan State Bears before they take on the UMBC Retrievers. The Bears are 4-0 after sweeping Bowie State and Virginia Union this past weekend, while the Retrievers will open their season on Friday with a doubleheader against Saint Peter’s.

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