Behind two dominant pitching performances, the Stony Brook softball team swept a home doubleheader against UMass Lowell on Wednesday, winning the matchups by scores of 3-0 and 2-0.
The wins improved the Seawolves’ America East record to 9-2, propelling the team into sole-possession of first place in the conference.
“It always feels good to beat a conference team,” Stony Brook pitcher Allison Cukrov said.
The first game was a pitcher’s duel. Stony Brook’s Jane Sallen and UMass Lowell’s Marielle Handley both stifled their opposition with stellar pitching, as the game remained scoreless until the bottom of the fifth.
Stony Brook broke the scoreless tie when catcher Allie Pisciotta came to the plate. She hit a two-run home run, her third of the season, to put the Seawolves ahead 2-0.
“As we saw more pitches, I was able to make adjustments,” Pisciotta said.
Once the Pisciotta home run gave Stony Brook the lead, shutdown pitching carried the team the rest of the way. Sallen was removed in the sixth after pitching 5.1 scoreless innings in favor of Cukrov, who recorded the save as the Seawolves won 3-0.
After closing the first game, Cukrov took the mound to start the second game against UMass Lowell’s Erica Armenti and was nearly perfect. She allowed just one hit, a single to the leadoff hitter, and faced the minimum as she retired the next 20 batters in order.
“I’ve seen Allison Cukrov pitch a lot of good games,” Seawolves coach Megan Bryant said. “She was real good today. She did a great job of getting ahead in the count and gave us a chance to win.”
The Seawolves got on the board first in the bottom of the third, when two UMass Lowell errors prolonged what could have been a short inning. With runners on first and second and one out, Pisciotta hit a routine ground ball that was booted by shortstop Alisha Welch to load the bases.
Once the bases were loaded, Stony Brook third baseman Chelsea Evans hit a comebacker to Armenti that could have been an inning-ending double play. But after getting the force at home, the throw to first was mishandled by River Hawks first baseman Vanessa Cooper, which allowed Stony Brook to score the game’s first run.
The Seawolves were able to take a 1-0 lead despite recording just one hit in the inning.
“We try and take advantage of every opportunity we get,” Pisciotta said. “So if we can get on base, move people over, and score some runs, we will.”
This run proved to be the only thing Stony Brook needed to win, as Cukrov continued her dominance on the mound. Although a Kellie Reynolds RBI single in the sixth would provide Stony Brook with an insurance run, UMass Lowell was kept off of the scoreboard for the second straight game.
The doubleheader sweep puts the Seawolves in a very favorable conference position. Stony Brook holds a one-game conference lead with five games remaining against opponents Albany and UMBC, with a twin bill scheduled against the Great Danes for April 28.
“Every America East game is big,” Bryant said. “We have our work cut out for us with Albany and UMBC left, so we just have to take it one game at a time and play the best that we can.”