Senior outfielder Jourdin Hering runs to first base after hitting the ball during the Stony Brook Softball game against UMass Lowell on April 28, 2019. On Friday in Maderia Beach, Florida against the Colgate Raiders, Hering led the offense, with a team-high four hits including an RBI triple and a solo homer. SARA RUBERG/STATESMAN FILE

The atypical winds and cool temperatures of Madeira Beach, Florida, could not stop the Stony Brook softball team from a red-hot start to their season on Friday, Feb. 21, erasing a five-run deficit in walk-off fashion and beating the Colgate Raiders 6-5. Their opener marks the first of five games this weekend at the annual Spring Games. Hosting over 500 teams from across the country, it is the largest collegiate softball event in the world. 

Colgate wasted no time, scoring a run in the first inning off an RBI single from senior infielder Nicole Rounsavill. From there they did not stop, scoring two runs in the third inning and one run in the fourth and fifth, including home runs from senior catcher Virginia Irby and senior outfielder Jordan Miller. Two-time America East Player of the Year, senior pitcher/first baseman Melissa Rahrich, who was assigned to be the Opening Day starter, struggled at the mound by giving up those five runs in four-plus innings. Rahrich had a 2.09 ERA all of last season and finds herself with an 11.25 ERA after only four innings pitched so far. 

Yet, it was during the bottom of the fifth inning that the comeback began. The Seawolves shaved three runs off the lead with a two-run double from senior outfielder Jourdin Hering followed by an RBI double from junior infielder Nicole McCarvill. Just like that, the game was on. 

After failing to score in the bottom of the sixth, the Seawolves poured it on the bottom of the seventh. With runners on second and third, Rahrich redeemed herself with a two-run single, tying the game at five. Three batters later, with the bases loaded and two outs, sophomore infielder Taylor Juenke walked in the winning run, finishing the comeback in true walk-off fashion. Colgate freshman pitcher Bailey Misken started on the mound for the Raiders and will concede a loss to her record after pitching 6.1 innings and being charged for all six runs scored.

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Transfer junior pitcher Dawn Bodrug came in to pitch in relief, having better luck than Rahrich and earning the win after holding Colgate scoreless over the final three innings. In addition, freshman outfielder Shauna Nuss made her collegiate debut, going 3-for-3 and scoring two runs. 

Stony Brook continued to win in a pair of matchups on Saturday, Feb. 22. Strong hitting performances yet again helped the Seawolves beat the Columbia Lions 9-5 and the Providence Friars later that afternoon 9-2 at the Madeira Beach Tournament.

“This was a very good Day 2 for us in terms of how we played, the improvements we made and the results,” head coach Megan Bryant said in a press release. “Offensively, we did a lot of good things. Our defense was strong and pitching gave us the chance to win. We want to finish the weekend strong tomorrow.”

With sophomore pitcher Shelbi Denman starting on the mound for the Seawolves, they took on the Columbia Lions in the first game of a Saturday pair. An explosive hitting performance in the first inning started by Hering’s opening double set the tone for a four-run first inning that ballooned to a 6-4 lead after Rahrich homered to left field. 

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From there, each team’s bats went quiet. Only three runners would be put on base in the third and fourth inning, with none crossing home plate. In the fifth inning, however, Hering would put the game to rest just as she started it. She hit a single and drove in two runners to make the score 8-4. The Seawolves held on for the 9-5 win. Denman pitched 6.1 innings and earned her first win of the season.

Later in the afternoon against the Providence Friars, the Seawolves continued their early-season momentum. The spotlight was on Bodrug, who struck out 11 batters and allowed only two hits in a complete game. Hering led the offense yet again, with a team-high four hits including an RBI triple and a solo homer. Bodrug moved to 2-0 on the season after the 122-pitch performance sealed the 9-2 victory for Stony Brook.

“I’m just having a blast with this team,” Hering said in a press release. “We work together so well and everyone has each other’s back. Shelbi Denman and Dawn Bodrug came out hot today which got us excited. We use all facets of the game and get gritty when we have to.”

The Seawolves advance to 3-0 on the season so far, their best start since 2009 when they started 4-0. Their next two games come in a similar fashion as on Saturday in the conclusion of their stint in the Madeira Beach Tournament with a pair of games against Georgetown at 9 a.m. and Cornell at 11:30 a.m. on Sunday, Feb. 23.

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