In the first home games of the season on Wednesday, the Stony Brook softball team swept a double-header against Central Connecticut State.
The wins improved the Seawolves’ record to 9-8, putting them back over the .500 threshold. Although they have yet to begin conference play, this doubleheader represents a major momentum shift after a somewhat slow start.
“It’s always great to play at home and get two wins on your home field,” junior pitcher Jane Sallen said.
The first game was a pitcher’s duel. Sallen took the mound for the Seawolves against Central Connecticut’s Laura Messina, whose .60 ERA is amongst the top five in Division I.
Stony brook junior Shayla Giossa got to Messina in the 1st with a solo home run, her fifth of the season, to put the Seawolves up 1-0.
This would prove to be all of the offense the Seawolves would need for the day, as Sallen shut out Central Connecticut, allowing just three hits in a complete game effort.
“Jane threw a real good game,” Seawolves Head Coach Megan Bryant said. “It was a classic pitchers battle but we just did what we needed to do.”
Although Sallen’s dominance on the mound is what shows up in the score, the Seawolves victory was once again given a major defensive boost by Giossa in the fifth inning. With two outs and a runner on third, she robbed Central Connecticut’s Kat Malcom of an extra base hit as she collided with the centerfield fence to make an over-the-shoulder catch.
“Our team worked throughout the game to get better every inning and that’s what we did,” Sallen said.
“She came up clutch for me because that was obviously not my best pitch,” Sallen said. “I knew she would make the catch.”
As it came time for the second game, the weather conditions became a factor. Rainy conditions caused the infield to become noticeably muddy, which became a concern for some players.
“The conditions were less than desirable in the second game,” Bryant said.
The first few innings of the second game looked to be even lower scoring than the first. Central Connecticut sent Messina to the mound once again to face off against Stony Brook ace Allison Cukrov. The score was 0-0 until the Seawolves scored two runs in the bottom of the fourth.
A three run home run by senior Bria Green appeared to put the game on ice for the Seawolves, who lead 5-0. However, what looked like a sure win soon came into doubt when Cukrov allowed six runs in the sixth inning. After she struggled, Bryant sent Sallen back to the mound to relieve her embattled ace.
“Allie [Cukrov] was cruising until that sixth, “Bryant said. “She has to learn to be a little stronger when conditions are not ideal.”
After failing to score in the sixth inning, Stony Brook came out swinging in the seventh. A few base hits and a walk loaded the bases for freshman Chelsea Evans, who delievered in the clutch with a walk off double to win the game, 7-6.
“I knew we had to get those runs in so when I got a good pitch I swung as hard as I could,” Evans said after the game. “I wasn’t going to go down swinging.”
Beating one of the best collegiate pitchers twice in one day seems to indicate that the Seawolves sub-.500 start will be behind them come conference play. If Stony Brook can stay hot come against America East opponents, the team appears to have the offensive and defensive pieces necessary to make another run at a conference title.