Senior catcher Irene Rivera at bat against UMass Lowell on April 28. During the America East Softball Tournament game against Binghamton on May 8, Rivera knocked in four runs during the game, tying a career high. SARA RUBERG/THE STATESMAN

Following an 11-7 record in conference play, the Stony Brook Seawolves headed to West Hartford, Connecticut to compete in the America East Softball Tournament (May 8-11) as the No. 3 seed. The Seawolves were looking for their first championship game appearance since 2015 and had a slate of tough competition in the way of their goal.

The Seawolves faced the No. 6-seeded Binghamton Bearcats in the first game of the tournament on Wednesday, May 8. Led by junior pitcher Melissa Rahrich and senior catcher Irene Rivera, the Seawolves easily took down the Bearcats by a score of 7-3.  Rahrich improved her season record to 17-11 following a seven-inning, eight strikeout performance, while Rivera knocked in four runs during the game, tying a career high.

Stony Brook advanced to play the No. 2-seeded Albany Danes on Thursday, May 9. Rahrich again threw a masterpiece, mirroring her outing against Binghamton by pitching another seven innings and picking up eight strikeouts en route to her 18th victory of the season. Junior outfielder Jourdin Hering was the first to cross the plate in the 4-0 victory for the Seawolves, on a Rahrich single in the first.

Momentum was on the Seawolves side heading into the third day of the tournament, but they hit their first roadblock in their matchup versus No. 4-seeded UMBC. The Retrievers jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the first, only for the Seawolves to tie it in the second following a solo homer from Rivera, her tenth on the season. The Retrievers would retake the lead following a three-run fourth inning, and they never looked back. Each team would add an additional run, including a solo homer by Stony Brook sophomore infielder Nicole McCarvill. The 5-2 loss dropped Rahrich to 18-12 on the season.

A matchup with the No. 1-seeded UMass Lowell Riverhawks came only hours after the defeat to the UMBC Retrievers, but the loss to UMBC did not stay on the Seawolves’ minds for too long. A solo homer in the second by junior Jordyn Nowakowski put the Seawolves up 1-0 and a RBI by Rivera in the third made it 2-0 Seawolves. That was all Rahrich needed to pitch the Seawolves to victory. Rahrich lasted seven innings, picking up six strikeouts while allowing one run to earn her 19th victory on the season earning the Seawolves their first appearance in the Championship game since 2015.

Following the win, Head Coach Megan T. Bryant mentioned in a press release how happy she was with the way the team played. “What a great effort by our team to rebound after the first game with a pivotal win over a tough UMass Lowell team,” Bryant said. “We are gritty and playing for each other. Mel (Rahrich) was a warrior against Lowell and we played exceptional defense behind her. We look forward to the opportunity ahead of us tomorrow.”

The Seawolves 2-1 victory over UMass Lowell set up a rematch versus UMBC on Saturday, May 11 in the America East Softball Championship. The Retrievers struck first in the top of the first inning and never looked back, winning 4-0. The Seawolves came close to scoring in the bottom of the first after Hering singled and senior outfielder Katelyn Corr walked, but UMBC pitcher Courtney Coppersmith quickly regained her dominant form and shut down the Seawolves. Rahrich pitched for the fifth consecutive game and again went the distance, finishing the season with 28 complete games and a 19-12 record. Rahrich, Rivera and Corr were all named to the America East Conference Championship Team.

Rahrich’s 19 wins on the season is ranked seventh in school history. The junior is also eighth in single season innings pitched (207.2), strikeouts (153), sixth in shutouts (7) and fourth in complete games (28). Rahrich is also ranked fourth in single season batting average (.418), third in hits (69), first in RBI (60) and second in home runs (17).

Corr is ranked ninth in school history with a .379 batting average. The senior is also tied for fourth in single season doubles (14) and is first in runs scored (57). Corr also finished her four years at Stony Brook 10th in career runs scored (101).

Rivera finished tied for fourth in school history for single season doubles (14) and tied for sixth in single season RBI (46). Rivera also finished fourth in career RBI (141) and seventh in career home runs (26).

The Seawolves, who finished the season 32-19, took the loss hard, but won’t let it stay in their head for long according to Bryant. “This was a tough day for us and not the way we wanted the tournament to end,” Bryant said. “We had a great run this week and a terrific season overall. We have a lot to be proud of, and a lot to look forward to.”

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