Junior catcher Irene Rivera takes a swing in a game against UMBC in 2017. Rivera began the weekend series against Hartford with a three-run home run. ARACELY JIMENEZ/THE STATESMAN

Stony Brook Softball swept conference rival Hartford in an emotional weekend series that commemorated the life of former Seawolves shortstop Danielle Kemp.

Stony Brook celebrated the life of Kemp prior to Sunday’s game by inviting her family to the circle where Danielle’s father, Cliff, threw out the first pitch. The Seawolves wore special uniforms which replaced the front logo with Danni’s initials, DK, and a heart with the number 23 inside. The team was motivated from the start of the game and won 13-2 via the mercy rule.

“Today was a great all around team win to close out the series,” head coach Megan T. Bryant said in a press release after the Sunday game. “It was good to see us be consistent with our scoring. Lindsey Hughes came in and did a great job.”

Junior pitcher Lindsey Hughes picked up where sophomore pitcher Melissa Rahrich left off by pitching three consecutive shutout innings while only allowing three hits. Hughes went 2-2 in the plate driving in two runs while scoring twice.

Disaster occurred during the game when Rahrich was struck in the face by an incoming line drive in the top of the third inning. She was pulled from the game to be tended to by team doctors.

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Rahrich was a part of another impressive Stony Brook offensive performance prior to the injury, going 2-2 at the plate, including hitting a two-run home run to tie the game at two in the bottom of first inning. Junior centerfielder Katelyn Corr singled to break the tie and give the Seawolves a 3-2 lead. Senior shortstop Chelsea Evans increased the lead to two runs with a sacrifice fly to drive in sophomore designated hitter Taylor Pechin.

Rahrich hit a two-run double in the following inning to increase the lead to 6-2 before scoring off a bases loaded walk to Evans. Stony Brook added six more runs in the following two innings to increase the lead to 13-2, which the team would go on to win via the mercy rule.

The second Saturday afternoon game was a much more tightly contested matchup, unlike the first game’s blowout. Hartford freshman catcher Danielle Rocheleau broke the tie with a solo home run in the top of the third to give the Hawks their only lead of the afternoon.

Stony Brook answered back in the top of the fifth after sophomore third baseman Riley Craig reached base off an error. The error would come back to cost the Hawks later in the inning when freshman second baseman Nicole McCarvill hit her first home run at the collegiate level to put the Seawolves up 2-1. Stony Brook was able to hold on to the one-run victory to take both games of the afternoon.

Junior catcher Irene Rivera started off the series for Stony Brook strong by blasting a three-run home run over the center field wall in the bottom of the first inning. The Seawolves added another run in the bottom of the second off a double steal attempt. Craig stole home while McCarvill was called out at second on the throw from the catcher to increase the lead to 4-0.

Stony Brook offensively closed out the game by getting three consecutive batters on base to start the bottom of the fifth. McCarvill scored off a fielder’s choice hit by senior left fielder Ileana Torres to extend the Seawolves lead to 5-0. Rahrich ended the game the following at-bat by hitting a three-run blast over the left field wall for the 8-0 Stony Brook mercy victory.

Rahrich led the Seawolves on offense by going 2-3 with a home run and hitting in three RBIs.

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Rahrich pitched her second conference one-hitter this season and struck out three Hartford batters in her 10th shutout of the season. Rahrich spoke about the importance of having a dominant pitching performance against conference rivals after the game one win.

“We always know conference games are important and it is always important to win that first game,” Rahrich said. “ I always know the defense is going to have my back so the best way to sway the game in our favor is to have composure. If you lose your composure, it’s usually when things start to go wrong.”

The Stony Brook offense has continued to produce against its conference rivals, scoring 23 runs off 24 hits this weekend. This is the third straight conference series the Seawolves have tallied over 20 runs and hits this season. Stony Brook improved its America East record to 7-4 and its overall record to 19-16 with the sweep.

The Seawolves will return to action against the UMBC Retrievers on Wednesday, April 25 at 2 p.m. in conference action at University Field.

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