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Stony Brook softball gets back on track with sweep over Charleston

Catcher Emily Reinstein fouls off a pitch against Campbell on Friday, March 8. Reinstein went 7-for-12 with three doubles, four runs batted in and two runs at Charleston this year. BRITTNEY DIETZ/THE STATESMAN

The Stony Brook softball team righted the ship after a rough weekend, sweeping a Coastal Athletic Association (CAA) rival to level its conference record up.

The Seawolves (11-9, 3-3 CAA) took care of business down in South Carolina against the Charleston Cougars (7-17, 1-5 CAA) in a three-game series this past weekend. Stony Brook survived a pitcher’s duel in game one on Friday, winning 3-1 in extra innings before earning a commanding 8-4 victory on Saturday. On Sunday, the team emerged victorious in a 10-8 slugfest to complete the sweep.

Despite trailing for most of game one, the Seawolves — led by starting pitcher Mia Haynes — prevailed to pick up their first conference win of the season. In the bottom of the second inning, Charleston drew first blood when catcher Malaka Belser crushed a home run to left field to take a 1-0 lead.

Though Stony Brook got runners on base in each of the first four innings, it was unable to cash in against Charleston starting pitcher Payton Lemire until the top of the fifth. After a two-out single by shortstop Kyra McFarland, right fielder Alyssa Costello lined a triple just over the head of center fielder Kaytlin Stacey to tie the game at 1-1.

The Seawolves nearly took the lead in the top of the seventh inning when Costello pulled a two-out single into right field, but pinch runner Emma Scheitinger was gunned down at home plate. In the bottom half of the frame, Haynes retired the Cougars in order to force extra innings.

With Charleston starting pitcher McKenna Kelly in the circle for her third inning of relief, Stony Brook’s offense came alive in the eighth inning. Left fielder Catherine Anne Kupinski was hit by a pitch to start things off and advanced to second base on a wild pitch. Two batters later, catcher Corinne Badger — who was playing first base — worked a walk before catcher Emily Reinstein loaded the bases with a single.

With a prime opportunity presenting itself, head coach Megan Bryant called on second baseman Naiah Ackerman to pinch hit. Ackerman did exactly what she was asked to, as she blasted a long, two-run single off the center-field wall to put the Seawolves ahead for good.

Bryant was thrilled to see Ackerman come through after the team left runners on base throughout the entire contest.

“Offensively, we had opportunities throughout to tag on runs but didn’t capitalize,” Bryant said in a postgame interview with Stony Brook Athletics. “In the eighth, we took advantage of free bases and Naiah stepped in and clutched up.”

Stacey singled to lead off the bottom of the eighth inning, but second baseman Aniz Roman lined into a double play before Haynes induced a pop out to secure the win.

Even with Ackerman’s late-inning heroics, Haynes was the star of the show. She tossed eight innings to the tune of just one run, seven hits and four strikeouts to earn her third win of the season.

Bryant gave props to Haynes and the defense behind her.

“Gritty win for us to start the series,” Bryant said. “Mia threw a great game and was able to bear down to close it out. Our defense was solid and came up with big plays.”

With Kelly in the circle for the Cougars to start game two, the Seawolves picked up where they left off the day before. Center fielder Alicia Orosco worked a walk to lead off the game and McFarland followed by slapping a single into left field. After Costello popped out and Kupinski reached first base on a fielder’s choice, designated player Julianna Sanzone doubled in McFarland to make it 1-0.

With two runners in scoring position, Ackerman drew a walk to load the bases before Reinstein snuck a single through the left side to collect a pair of runs batted in (RBI). Third baseman Brooke Dye was hit by a pitch during the next at-bat to reload the bases, prompting Charleston head coach Tracey Lynch to pull the plug on Kelly in favor of relief pitcher Ryley Kutter.

Fortunately for Stony Brook, Kutter did not fare any better. Kutter immediately plunked Badger to force in a run and Orosco beat out a weak ground ball to first base, driving in another to make it 5-0.

In the second inning, the Seawolves tacked on a pair of unearned runs. With one away, Kupinski tripled on a high fly ball to the warning track that left fielder Halle Cannon lost in the sun. With two outs and Kupinski still on third base, Ackerman pulled a ground ball to third baseman Karlee Hughes, who uncorked an errant throw to first that allowed Kupinski to score. Reinstein then drove in her third run of the game by hammering a double that was just out of the reach of Cannon’s diving attempt to give Stony Brook a 7-0 lead.

In the bottom of the third inning, the Cougars climbed back into the game when shortstop Brooke Marquez dumped an RBI single into shallow right-center field. Starting pitcher Gabrielle Maday then issued back-to-back walks — the first one of which loaded the bases before the second one forced in a run.

After getting Roman to pop out, Maday allowed a two-run single to Belser to cut the Seawolves’ lead down to 7-4. After allowing four runs in three innings pitched, Maday was pulled in favor of starting pitcher Ashton Melaas, who only pitched out of the bullpen during the series. Melaas weathered the storm and pitched four scoreless innings and allowed just one hit and three walks.

With two outs in the top of the seventh inning, Badger put the finishing touches on the game by blasting a solo home run over the left-field fence to tack on some unneeded insurance.

Bryant felt that the team performed well in all three facets to contribute to the win.

“We set a great tone early in this game, grabbing momentum with an excellent offensive approach and solid defense,” Bryant said. “Ashton was terrific in relief and we came up with big plays when they were needed. We earned an important series win and look forward to finishing strong tomorrow.”

In the series finale, Stony Brook’s offense stayed hot. After Orosco singled off Lemire to start the game, McFarland followed with another one to put runners at the corners. During the next at-bat, McFarland stole second base and Belser’s throw went into center field, allowing Orosco to trot home.

Costello then walked and Kupinski bounced into an unassisted fielder’s choice by Charleston third baseman Brooke Tranum, putting runners on first and second with two outs. After Lemire hurled a wild pitch that moved both into scoring position, Sanzone doubled them home to make it 3-0.

In the bottom of the first inning, the Cougars roughed up Haynes. With runners on second and third base and only one out, Charleston designated hitter Savannah Lockhart grounded a ball to Dye, who made a poor throw home that allowed Stacey to score. Immediately after, Roman sent an RBI double into the right-center field gap. With two runners still in scoring position, first baseman Shealyn Starks singled into left field to score Lockhart and Kupinski bobbled the ball, allowing Roman to come in behind her.

Now down 4-3, the Seawolves played some small ball, as Reinstein led off with a single and advanced to second base on a sacrifice bunt by Dye. Orosco did her job afterward and tied the game with an RBI single.

In the bottom of the second inning, Stacey notched another leadoff single and moved from first to third base when no one covered the bag on Marquez’s sacrifice bunt. Cannon then placed a single into shallow right-center field to regain the lead and chase Haynes from the game. With Melaas now in the circle, Lockhart and Roman came through with back-to-back singles to give the Cougars a 6-4 lead.

In the top of the third inning, Stony Brook responded. After singles by Kupinski and Sanzone sandwiched a wild pitch to place runners at the corners, Ackerman singled through the left side to halve the deficit. Reinstein then shot an RBI double up the right-center field gap and Badger followed with a sacrifice fly to put the Seawolves ahead 7-6.

With two outs in the top of the fourth inning and McFarland on third base, Sanzone rolled one over to Tranum, who booted it to bring in another run. However, Charleston got it back in the bottom of the frame when right fielder Mia Dittoe sent an RBI single up the middle to make it 8-7.

To lead off the top of the sixth inning, McFarland singled and later scored when Kupinski crushed a two-run homer to left-center field to give the team some much-needed breathing room. Starks responded with a solo homer in the bottom of the sixth to cut Stony Brook’s lead down to 10-7.

To start the bottom of the seventh inning, the Cougars set the table with back-to-back singles, but Stacey lined out to Ackerman, who stepped on second base to turn an unassisted double play. Melaas then got Marquez to line out to McFarland at short to end the game.

Bryant was pleased with the strides she saw her team take this weekend.

“We really had to earn this win today and I’m proud of our team for fighting for it,” Bryant said. “It was a team effort. Ashton was excellent in relief and finished the game strong. The series sweep helps us immensely. Most importantly, we are improving as a team and figuring out what it takes to be successful.”

Once again, Melaas was outstanding out of the bullpen. She worked 5 ⅔ innings and allowed two runs on nine hits and a walk while also striking out three batters. Melaas pitched 9 ⅔ innings in the series and allowed 10 hits, four walks and punched out five hitters. She was the winning pitcher of both games two and three.

After a dominant start on Friday, Haynes was shelled for six runs (five earned) on seven hits in just 1 ⅓ innings on Sunday. For the weekend, she tossed 9 ⅓ innings to the tune of seven runs (six earned), 14 hits and five strikeouts. In her only outing, Maday allowed four runs on five hits and two walks in three innings.

Offensively, Reinstein, McFarland and Kupinski led the way for Stony Brook. Reinstein went 7-for-12 with three doubles, four RBIs and two runs scored. McFarland went 6-for-12 with four runs and a stolen base. Kupinski went 5-for-10 with a triple, home run, two RBIs, six runs, a walk and a hit-by-pitch.

Orosco and Sanzone also had nice weekends. Orosco went 5-for-12 with two RBIs, one run, a walk and a steal. Sanzone went 4-for-10 with two doubles, three RBIs, two runs and two walks.

Badger and Ackerman were productive as well. Badger went 2-for-8 with a homer, three RBIs, two runs, two walks and was plunked once. Ackerman also delivered three RBIs and two hits in eight at-bats along with three runs and a walk.

The Seawolves will now return to University Field this Wednesday for a midweek doubleheader against the Manhattan Jaspers, who are 3-18 this season. Game one’s first pitch is set for 2 p.m. and the finale is scheduled for 4 p.m.

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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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