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Stony Brook softball swept by Campbell in first CAA series of 2024

Left fielder Catherine Anne Kupinski (center) celebrates a home run against Campbell on Friday, March 8. Kupinski hit two homers in the Stony Brook softball team’s first conference series of the season. BRITTNEY DIETZ/THE STATESMAN

The Stony Brook softball team followed its best weekend of the year with its worst one, as it was swept by the Coastal Athletic Association’s (CAA) newest member.

The Seawolves (8-9, 0-3 CAA) became a footnote in the Campbell Camels’ (11-12-1, 3-0 CAA) program history this past weekend, as they were swept at University Field in their newest conference opponent’s first-ever CAA series. In game one of Friday afternoon’s doubleheader, Stony Brook was blanked 3-0 before falling 6-4 in game two. In Saturday’s series finale, Campbell secured the sweep by winning a pitcher’s duel 2-1.

The Camels struck first in the top of the second inning when second baseman Sterling Hairston pulled a run-scoring single into left field off starting pitcher Gabrielle Maday. Two batters later, Campbell center fielder Charlie Montgomery dribbled a slow roller to third baseman Brooke Dye, whose throw was not in time, allowing another run to score. Dye was deemed to have bobbled the ball on the play and was charged with an error, making the run unearned.

Those two runs were all the Camels needed, but they tacked on another for good measure in the top of the third inning when shortstop Makayla McClain led off with a bomb to center field. After the home run, Campbell catcher Savannah White singled off Maday.

The rough start to the third inning prompted head coach Megan Bryant to pull her in favor of starting pitcher Mia Haynes, who made her first appearance of the weekend in relief. Haynes held the Camels at bay, allowing a single to her first batter before retiring the final 15 hitters she faced.

However, no matter how well Haynes pitched, the Seawolves could not touch Campbell starting pitcher Isabella Smith. Smith hurled a complete game shutout, allowing just two hits, a walk and a hit-by-pitch while striking out 11 batters.

Head coach Megan Bryant wants to see her offense be more consistent, and not only from game to game, but also within the contests themselves.

“We just talked to the team about putting one [run] up an inning,” Bryant said in a postgame interview with The Statesman. “We’ve been not scoring for two [innings], score three, don’t score again. That puts a lot of pressure on pitchers and defense. We need to stay true to our process in the box and not get too big and be productive.”

Game two started off perfectly for the Camels, as designated player Brooke Carey grounded a two-run single through the middle off starting pitcher Ashton Melaas in the top of the first inning. Stony Brook got one back in the bottom of the second on a solo shot to center by catcher Emily Reinstein against Campbell starting pitcher Megan Gregory.

After Reinstein’s home run, Gregory issued a single to second baseman Naiah Ackerman and a walk to Dye, prompting the Camels to turn to starting pitcher Hannah Leierer out of the bullpen. Leierer stranded the runners to escape further trouble.

In the top of the third inning, Campbell first baseman Lindsay Lumsden led off with a homer of her own to make it 3-1. However, through some effective small ball, the Seawolves got right back into it in the home half of the frame.

Shortstop Kyra McFarland drew a leadoff walk and center fielder Alicia Orosco reached on a throwing error by White to board two runners for Stony Brook. A wild pitch by Leierer allowed McFarland to score to cut the Seawolves’ deficit in half. With Orosco now on third base, left fielder Catherine Anne Kupinski brought everyone home by smacking a two-run homer to straight away center field to put them up 4-3.

The scoring went on pause until the top of the fifth inning when Carey doubled down the left-field line to score Lumsden, tying the game at four apiece. Melaas almost escaped further trouble, but the Camels took the lead when left fielder Tyra Parker pulled a hard-hit RBI single off the glove of a diving Ackerman.

In the top of the sixth inning, a solo shot by McClain doubled Stony Brook’s deficit and chased Melaas from the game. In her 5 ⅔ innings pitched, Melaas surrendered six runs (five earned) on 10 hits while striking out four batters and walking one.

Campbell never looked back, as Smith relieved Leierer and locked down an eight-out save, striking out seven batters to secure the doubleheader sweep. After being outplayed in every aspect, Bryant was disappointed.

“Not our best two games of the season thus far,” Bryant said. “I thought we could’ve done all three things better: pitching, offense and defense.”

In game three, Smith continued to mow down the Seawolves’ lineup. Opposite Smith, Haynes completed her excellent weekend with a complete game, allowing two runs on four hits and four walks. However, those two runs did Stony Brook in, as Smith was almost untouchable again.

Both runs came in the top of the second inning, when third baseman Delaney McDilda blasted a two-run homer over the left-center wall. Smith only allowed three baserunners through the first three innings, with one coming by way of an error by McClain. In the bottom of the fourth, Kupinski led off by launching her second home run in as many games to left-center field.

Though the one-run lead was tight, Smith needed nothing more. She pitched into trouble in the bottom of the sixth inning, as right fielder Alyssa Costello dragged a bunt single to start things before Kupinski worked a walk. With two runners on and nobody out, designated player Julianna Sanzone bunted both of them over, but Reinstein popped out and Ackerman rolled over to leave them on base.

With one last chance in the bottom of the seventh inning, catcher Corinne Badger pinch hit to lead things off and worked a walk. However, Smith froze Orosco and induced fly outs on McFarland and second baseman Sofia Chambers to end it.

Bryant felt the Seawolves’ bats put Haynes’ valiant efforts to waste.

“I thought Mia threw extremely well and gave us a shot to win it,” Bryant said. “I was disappointed we didn’t do more offensively to help ourselves.”

Between her two appearances, Haynes allowed just five hits, two runs and four walks with eight strikeouts over 12 innings of work.

Stony Brook fared poorly at the dish, mustering up only 11 hits and a .151 batting average as a team. Kupinski provided much of the offense for the Seawolves, going 2-for-8 with two homers, three RBIs, two runs scored, one walk and one hit-by-pitch.

Reinstein had the only multi-hit game for them during the series, going 2-for-3 in game two. However, Reinstein went just 2-for-9 overall.

Stony Brook will aim to get back over .500 next weekend down in South Carolina against the Charleston Cougars. The Cougars are 7-13 overall this year and lost two out of three in their first CAA series of the year to Delaware. They will face Georgia Southern on Wednesday before their weekend matchup with the Seawolves. First pitch of game one is scheduled for 5 p.m. on Friday night.

Anthony DiCocco contributed reporting.

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