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Stony Brook softball looks to stay hot in CAA opener

The Stony Brook softball team gathers around head coach Megan Bryant during practice on Jan. 24. The Seawolves will open their conference season this weekend versus Campbell. BRITTNEY DIETZ/THE STATESMAN

Fresh off an unbeaten weekend, the Stony Brook softball team will begin its Coastal Athletic Association (CAA) schedule against the conference’s newest member.

In their return to University Field, the Seawolves (8-6) will square off with the Campbell Camels (8-12-1) this weekend in a three-game set. The series will open with a doubleheader on Friday, with start times scheduled for noon and 2 p.m., respectively. The series finale is scheduled for noon on Saturday.

Stony Brook is coming off a four-win weekend, whereas Campbell is looking to rebound after tying with Fordham on Wednesday.

The Seawolves are still looking to get their high-powered offense into midseason form, but will have to contend with one of the better pitching teams in the CAA.

Coming into this weekend, the Camels boast a 3.13 earned run average (ERA), which is good for third best in the conference. Their staff is led by freshman starting pitcher Megan Gregory, who has pitched 32 ⅔ innings to the tune of a 1.93 ERA, which ranks fourth in the CAA. Gregory was named the CAA Rookie of the Week after allowing just one run in an eight-inning win over Rutgers last Saturday.

Fellow freshman starting pitcher Hannah Leierer comes in at sixth in the CAA with 48 ⅓ innings pitched and seventh with 31 strikeouts. After allowing six runs in 4 ⅔ innings on Wednesday, Leierer’s ERA ballooned to 3.91. Rounding out Campbell’s weekend rotation is starting pitcher Isabella Smith, who leads the conference with 51 strikeouts over 43 innings. The junior has pitched to a 3.26 ERA. Between them, opponents are batting below .250 against them.

Outside of those three, relief pitcher Kayla Howald has allowed just one earned run in 12 innings pitched.

The Camels’ arms will try to keep Stony Brook’s underperforming bats in check. After ranking either first or second in most important offensive categories a year ago, the Seawolves currently sit in the middle of the CAA’s pack. Their seven home runs are good for sixth in the conference. Left fielder Julianna Sanzone and catcher Corinne Badger co-lead the team with two home runs apiece.

Power aside, Stony Brook has struggled to get runners aboard, as its .227 batting average ranks ninth in the CAA while its .307 on-base percentage falls in at eighth.

Right fielder Alyssa Costello leads the team with a .317 batting average, followed by shortstop Kyra McFarland at .311 and left fielder Catherine Anne Kupinski at .300. At the bottom of the order, second baseman Sofia Chambers has batted .250 thus far. Costello is the only player with more than one double, as she leads the team with three. Kupinski leads the squad with 10 runs batted in (RBI).

The Seawolves are hoping that two of their better bats get hot this weekend. Badger, who did not play last weekend, is just 3-for-22 this year. Center fielder Alicia Orosco is batting just .162 and has been demoted from the leadoff spot to the two hole in favor of McFarland.

Second baseman Naiah Ackerman has been a key contributor in the run-production department, as well. Despite batting just .207, she has knocked in five runs, all of which came last weekend. She has also slugged a homer and a double.

In the circle, Stony Brook will lean on its big three pitchers to keep it in games. Starting pitcher Gabrielle Maday has seen success in her first season with the Seawolves, as she leads the team in innings pitched with 37 ⅔. Despite a slightly inflated 4.46 ERA, Maday has won four of her six decisions while leading the team with a .277 batting average against.

Along with Maday, head coach Megan Bryant will rely on starting pitchers Mia Haynes and Ashton Melaas. Haynes was the incumbent ace entering the season but has struggled thus far, as she has pitched to a 6.36 ERA across her 25 ⅓ innings of work this year. As for Melaas, she is the reigning CAA Pitcher of the Week after recording a pair of saves and a win last weekend. She owns a 3.85 ERA over 23 ⅔ innings pitched.

It remains to be seen which combination of the three Bryant intends to use, but whoever it is will have to be on their game against a solid Campbell offense.

The Camels’ offensive attack is centered around freshman first baseman Lindsay Lumsden. Since arriving on campus, Lumsden has done nothing but crush opposing pitchers with a .340 average and an .853 on-base plus slugging (OPS). She has slugged one of her team’s two home runs this season.

Second baseman Makayla McClain is one of Campbell’s top tablesetters with a .324 batting average and three stolen bases.

Right fielder Allyiah Swiney and center fielder Charlie Montgomery have also been productive. Swiney has batted .292 with an .820 OPS and a team-leading five doubles, while Montgomery is batting .310 with three doubles, six RBIs, 12 runs scored and four steals.

The Camels’ most impactful run producer has been shortstop Alyssa Henault, who leads the team with 11 RBIs on a .255 batting average. Henault co-leads the team with five stolen bases alongside left fielder Tyra Parker. Catcher Tristin Doster is second on the team with eight RBIs and is batting .268.

After being rudely welcomed into the CAA last year, Stony Brook will hope to do the same to the Camels, who are the new kids on the block in 2024.

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