The Stony Brook softball team earned a 5-1 victory over the UMBC Retrievers Wednesday afternoon but fell against the UMass Lowell River Hawks 5-1 Thursday afternoon in its first two America East playoff games.
“We came out ready for this game but did not handle the adversity of the third inning well,” head coach Megan T. Bryant said in a press release after Thursday’s loss. “Limiting free bases at this time of the year is key. It’s all about being resilient now and coming out tomorrow ready to compete.”
Stony Brook put a run on the board in the first inning against UMass Lowell. Senior left fielder Ileana Torres reached base on a fielder’s choice and advanced to second off a single by sophomore pitcher Melissa Rahrich. Torres scored in the following at-bat on an error by River Hawks freshman first baseman Maria Moccio, giving the Seawolves a 1-0 lead.
UMass Lowell responded with five unanswered runs in the bottom of the third, beginning when freshman catcher Sara Siteman hit an RBI single to center field to tie the game at 1-1. Senior right fielder Madison Alcorn scored with the bases loaded on a sequence which began with her being hit by a pitch from Seawolves sophomore pitcher Taylor Pechin, giving the River Hawks a 2-1 lead. Senior first baseman Vanessa Cooper and Moccio supplied insurance runs with back-to-back RBI singles and increased the lead to 5-1, the eventual final score.
Stony Brook returned to the batting order it has used for most of the season and seemed unaffected offensively in its first playoff game against UMBC. Junior centerfielder Katelyn Corr led off the bottom of the first with a single through the left side of the field. Junior catcher Irene Rivera then doubled, driving Corr home after she advanced a base on a sacrifice bunt, giving the Seawolves a 1-0 lead.
Corr reached base on an error in the bottom of the third and began another offensive performance for Stony Brook. Torres advanced Corr and beat out the throw to first, reaching base on a bunt which put two runners on with no outs. Rahrich took advantage of a rattled Retrievers freshman pitcher Brianna Baker and crushed the pitch over the center field wall for a three-run home run and a 4-0 Seawolves lead.
UMBC cut into the lead after sophomore designated hitter Valerie Hammett singled to center field in the top of the fourth. Senior third baseman Carly Lesko tripled down the left field line the following at-bat, scoring Hammett and cutting the deficit to three runs. The Retrievers were unable to further capitalize offensively and left Lesko stranded at third.
Stony Brook freshman second baseman Nicole McCarvill added an insurance run with a solo shot over the left-center field wall in the bottom of the sixth. UMBC attempted a last-inning comeback, but Rahrich held the runner at second and closed out the 5-1 victory for her 14th win in the circle.
“Last year we had a rough start,” Rahrich said in a post-game interview. “We knew we needed to win this game. It’s important to start off with a win because you have to climb your way back up if you start with a loss.”
Rahrich dominated in the batter’s box and finished the game going 2-3 with three RBIs and a run scored. The America East named Rahrich the 2018 Player of the Year Tuesday afternoon, joining outfielder Bria Green in 2015 as the second Stony Brook player to receive the award. Rahrich led the conference in batting average (.433), slugging percentage (.646) and total bases (82) and earned five America East Weekly Awards this season.
Rahrich was one of four Stony Brook players who earned All-Conference honors at the America East Conference Tournament banquet Tuesday night. Rivera was named to the America East First Team, McCarvill was named to the Second Team and All-Rookie Team and Corr was named to the All-Academic Team. This is the first time that four Seawolves have earned All-Conference awards since 2008.
Stony Brook will take on Maine on Friday at 1:30 p.m. in a win-or-go-home matchup.