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Stony Brook softball takes down Hofstra, advances to round two of 2024 CAA softball tournament

Catcher Corinne Badger follows through her swing against Elon on Friday, April 26. Badger blasted a home run and utilized nifty footwork to prevent a run in the Stony Brook softball team’s 3-0 playoff win over Hofstra on Wednesday. ANGELINA LIVIGNI/THE STATESMAN

In its playoff opener, timely hitting and lights-out pitching propelled the Stony Brook softball team to victory in the postseason edition of the Battle of Long Island.

Starting off the 2024 Coastal Athletic Association (CAA) softball tournament on Wednesday, the third-seeded Seawolves (35-15, 19-8 CAA) got a bit of revenge against their crosstown rival — the sixth-seeded Hofstra Pride (21-25, 17-10 CAA) — at Boseman Field in Wilmington, N.C. After dropping a pair of games to the Pride and being sent home by them in last year’s tournament, Stony Brook entered the winner’s bracket after handing Hofstra a 3-0 first-round loss.

As expected, the matchup was a pitchers’ duel between starting pitcher Mia Haynes and Hofstra starting pitcher Julia Apsel in the early goings.

In the top of the fourth inning, Haynes was nearly the first to crack. A single, walk and error combined to load the bases and with two outs, Hofstra third baseman Mackenzie Fitzgerald sent a ground ball to shortstop Kyra McFarland, whose wide throw appeared to take first baseman Corinne Badger off the bag. Though a run initially scored after Fitzgerald was ruled safe, the call was overturned, as replay showed that Badger maneuvered to stay on first base and get Haynes out of the jam.

After narrowly escaping danger, the Seawolves broke the ice in the bottom of the frame. McFarland laid down a leadoff bunt single and left fielder Catherine Anne Kupinski bunted her over to second base. With two away, designated player Julianna Sanzone clutched up by banging a single into left field on a two-strike count to give her team a 1-0 lead.

In the home half of the fifth inning, Stony Brook added onto its lead. After pinch hitter Madelyn Stepski was plunked by Apsel to lead off the frame, third baseman Brooke Dye dropped a sacrifice bunt that Hofstra first baseman Aliya Catanzarita threw away, putting runners at the corners. Despite retiring the next two batters, Apsel could not work around the mistake, as McFarland picked up a run batted in (RBI) by slapping a single through the left side of the infield.

Badger attributed the team’s late-inning rallies to putting pressure on both Apsel and the defense behind her.

“Julia Apsel … she’s a tough pitcher, a great pitcher,” Badger said in a postgame interview with Flo Sports. “We knew we had to bear down and kind of get runners on base and let their defense mess up. That’s all.”

Leading off the bottom of the sixth inning, Badger crushed a solo home run over the left-field fence to tack on another insurance run.

Despite belting a no-doubt shot, Badger did not know she got all of the pitch and was overcome with excitement when she got the better of Apsel.

“No, I actually blacked out,” Badger said. “When I went to swing, I was like ‘oh my god.’ The at-bat before, [Apsel] struck me out on that changeup so I wasn’t letting her do it again.”

Though an error and infield hit put the tying run at the plate in the top of the seventh inning, relief pitcher Ashton Melaas induced a ground out from Hofstra left fielder Kayla Wilson to end the game at 3-0.

Following the hard-fought win, head coach Megan Bryant spoke glowingly of her two pitchers and the team’s situational hitting.

“Good and gritty win for us to open up the tournament,” Bryant said in a postgame interview with Stony Brook Athletics. “We had excellent poise and focus and executed offensively in key spots. Mia and Ashton combined to give us a great effort in the circle and the shutout.”

Despite struggling with her control, Haynes continued her postseason success from last year. She tossed five scoreless innings to the tune of two hits, three walks and three strikeouts to earn her 14th win of the year.

Out of the bullpen, Melaas was terrific in the circle. Through two scoreless innings of relief, she punched out two batters and allowed just one hit en route to her fourth save of the season.

At the plate, McFarland was the Seawolves’ premier bat. She went 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored.

In the middle of the order, Badger and Sanzone produced a couple of runs. Badger went 1-for-3 with a home run, RBI and run scored while Sanzone also went 1-for-3 with an RBI.

Dye notched a single in her only official at-bat and contributed an important sacrifice bunt while Stepski was hit by a pitch and scored a run in her lone plate appearance. Kupinski went 0-for-2 but dropped the sacrifice bunt that put the eventual game-winning run in scoring position.

After advancing to day two of the playoffs, Stony Brook will now take on the second-seeded Delaware Blue Hens. Delaware is 38-12 overall this season and 21-6 in CAA play. The contest will represent the Blue Hens’ first of the tournament, as they earned a first-round bye. First pitch is scheduled for Thursday at 2:30 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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