Softball No.6_PCAracelyJimenez
Softball freshman designated hitter Irene Rivera, above, batted 5-for-8 with six runs in the series against Hartford. ARACELY JIMENEZ/THE STATESMAN

Strong pitching led the way as Stony Brook Softball swept its home series against Hartford this weekend. The Seawolves’ three wins improved the team’s America East record to 6-2 this season.

“We played a tough non-conference schedule, so it took us a while to get some games under our belt, get some practices in,” Stony Brook head coach Megan Bryant said. “I think we’re better right now, in all phases of the game — pitching, defense, our offensive efficiency — than we’ve been all year.”

The Seawolves defeated the Hawks, 5-0, on Friday afternoon before sweeping the teams’ Sunday double-header with two 9-1 wins.

The two Stony Brook pitchers — senior Jane Sallen and sophomore Maddy Neales — combined to allow only two runs in the entire series. Sallen earned the win in the first two Seawolves victories, while Neales pitched six innings in the series’ third game to earn the win.

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“When our pitchers are on fire like they were this weekend, it’s a great feeling,” freshman designated hitter Irene Rivera said. “We know that we can just have their backs and it relaxes us as a team just to know that our pitchers are doing well.”

Rivera, batting fourth in the batting order as the Seawolves “clean-up” hitter, batted 5-for-8 with six runs batted in throughout the series. The southern California native hit her second career home run in the third game of the weekend.

“Every team needs a good clean-up hitter and it is a tough role to ask a freshman to step into,” Bryant said. “But she certainly has the ability and she’s getting better with every game.”

The freshman’s breakout weekend, which also included a three-run double in the second game, raised her season’s batting average to .309, the second highest on the team.

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“Our whole team was stringing hits together,” Rivera said. “If someone else gets a hit, it’s contagious, so I believe I was just on the row with that.”

Senior catcher Allie Pisciotta had six hits in 11 at-bats during the series, including a single to third base in the sixth inning of the third game that clinched the contest for the Seawolves.

Pisciotta, the team’s lead-off hitter, is first on Stony Brook with a .367 batting average and a .550 slugging percentage.

Sallen’s pair of wins brings her overall record to 11-10 this season. Her earned run average is 3.16 on the year.

Neales, who has been used as the Seawolves’ No. 2 pitcher this campaign, threw well in the series finale. In six innings, the sophomore allowed only one run on one hit.

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Though wild with her pitching at times — walking three batters and throwing three wild pitches — she was able to overcome it, tying a career-high with eight strikeouts.

“We were better,” Bryant said of the pitching. “We minimized our free bases a little bit more, had a little bit more velocity, attacked a little bit better. I thought [Sallen and Neales] did a good job.”

After winning eight of its last 10 games, Stony Brook’s overall record now stands at 16-17-1, as the team will have an opportunity to go above a .500 record on Wednesday.

The team will host the Sacred Heart Pioneers for a double-header at University Field at 2:30 and 4:30 p.m..

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