The Stony Brook softball team has high hopes for 2015.
After reaching the America East finals in 2014, the annual preseason coaches’ poll named the Seawolves favorites to win in conference this season. These expectations are quite dependent on the performance of reigning America East Pitcher of the Year Allison Cukrov, who has already established herself as one of the greatest pitchers to ever play for Stony Brook.
Cukrov currently sits in the top five of every major career pitching statistic in Stony Brook history, including records for shutouts and saves. Last season, she finished 23-9 with a 2.10 ERA en route to her second America East Pitcher of the Year award.
While these accolades are quite impressive, Cukrov insists that the only numbers in which she is concerned are wins and losses.
“To me stats don’t really matter. I would rather finish with a [conference championship],” Cukrov said. “Obviously you want to perform at your best, but I want to win for my teammates and walk out in the end with a championship,”
Cukrov began playing softball at a young age in her native California. Once she developed into a standout high school pitcher, she wanted to go to an East Coast school to continue pitching and pursue an education. After Stony Brook recruited her, she felt that she had found an ideal school.
“I knew I wanted to go away for college. I knew I wanted to leave California and go east to an academic school where I could still play a high level of softball,” Cukrov said.
Once at Stony Brook, feelings of homesickness became an issue during her freshman year. With her home over 3,000 miles away, she sought the help of her fellow Seawolves in adjusting to the campus life.
“Being on a team has really helped with the transition of coming from the West Coast,” Cukrov said. “When you have that foundation of people who want to see you do well, that helps.”
Once her freshman softball season came around, Cukrov immediately dominated the America East. She won Conference Pitcher of the Year as a true freshman, setting single-season school records with 25 wins, 13 shutouts and 30 complete games along the way. From that point on, there was no question as to if she could succeed on the East Coast. Cukrov had found her niche.
“It really boils down to the support I’ve had from my coaches and teammates,” Cukrov said. “Knowing they have my back has helped me learn and grow as a pitcher.”
With three successful seasons already under her belt, Cukrov now uses her veteran status to assist underclassmen adjusting to the college game. It is with this experience, she says, that she is able to contribute to the team in unquantifiable ways.
“Now that I’m a senior I kind of see myself in more of a leadership role,” Cukrov said. “I am trying to mentor the younger pitchers.”
During Cukrov’s time at Stony Brook, the Seawolves have become an America East powerhouse. The team has gone deep into the conference tournament every year since 2012, including a tournament championship in 2013. With the team coming into this season as America East favorites, Cukrov and the Seawolves have an opportunity to build upon the program’s recent success.
“It feels like we have a target on our back,” Cukrov said of being ranked first in the coaches’ poll. “But it’s a good thing to have. It has motivated us to do well and now it is clear that everyone else has high expectations of us too.”
While 2015 has the potential to be a historic season for the Seawolves, Cukrov will have the opportunity to make some history of her own: she is 14 wins away from becoming the winningest pitcher in program history.