The softball team in spring 2019 celebrating a run against UMass Lowell. The team split a doubleheader against Sacred Heart on March 7. SARA RUBERG/STATESMAN FILE

The Stony Brook softball team split two games with the Sacred Heart Pioneers on Sunday, March 7, continuing to show offensive dominance but also suffering its first loss of the season, falling to 5-1. Last year, Stony Brook started out 7-0 and was the last undefeated team in the country.

The early game was a 6-0 clinic from senior pitcher Dawn Bodrug, who pitched a three-hit shutout. She struck out 16, her best mark of the season so far. Though Stony Brook was held scoreless for most of the game after a two-run first inning, a two-run double by graduate pitcher/first baseman Melissa Rahrich served as a reminder of what their offense can do when it gets hot.

Stony Brook played its best baseball in the first inning. Freshman center fielder Alicia Orosco, hitting leadoff for the first time in her young career, opened with a single to first base. After Rahrich was hit by a pitch, fifth-year third baseman Riley Craig drove in Orosco with a single to right field. A sacrifice fly from fifth-year catcher Jordyn Nowakowski drove in Rahrich for the second run, with time to spare.

From there, Bodrug went to work. She struck out all nine Sacred Heart batters she faced in the first three innings, though a flurry of groundouts kept the Seawolves limited as well. 

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Bodrug finally faltered in the bottom of the sixth, walking pinch hitter Nautika Diaz and allowing her to advance on a wild pitch. Two strikeouts and a groundout later however, Bodrug had stranded Diaz and escaped the inning.

If there was any chance of a Sacred Heart comeback, it was erased by a dreadful defensive performance that allowed a four-run seventh inning from Stony Brook. Star graduate outfielder Jourdin Hering finally entered the game as a pinch hitter and quickly doubled to left field. A fielding error allowed her to score and Orosco to reach first before two straight walks loaded the bases with just one out and Rahrich up to bat.

Rahrich, no stranger to big moments, hit a powerful double to left field that drove in Orcoso and sophomore outfielder Shauna Nuss. Freshman outfielder Julianna Sanzone, in her first ever appearance, tacked on another RBI to bring the score to 6-0. 

Bodrug now has 41 strikeouts on the season, tied with UMBC’s Courtney Coppersmith for best in the conference. No other pitcher has more than 20.

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The Seawolves faltered without Bodrug on the mound in Sunday’s second game, when Sacred Heart rallied late to force extra innings. Pioneers first basemen Emily Carroll hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning to secure a 5-4 victory.

At first, the contest appeared to be a rehash of the early game. The Seawolves began with another RBI double by Rahrich in the first inning, and yet another Sacred Heart fielding error allowed her to reach home on the next at-bat.

But Rahrich could not find the same magic on the mound, allowing consecutive first inning doubles to set up a 2-RBI single from catcher Alyssa Gonzalez that tied the score.

That tie would not stand for long. Hering hit her first home run of the season in the second inning, driving in sophomore third baseman Emma Campbell to put Stony Brook up 4-2.

That blast was the Seawolves’ last run of the game. Sacred Heart replaced novice pitcher Carlie Williams with Colleen Walsh in the third inning. Walsh struck out only five batters, but she drew groundouts at the right time to shut down Stony Brook’s offense.

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Catcher Maighread Scafariello’s RBI in the third inning cut the Pioneers’ deficit to one, but strong pitching by Rahrich held them there for the next three innings. A double play at home plate by Nowakowski preserved the Seawolves’ lead heading into the seventh inning.

Rahrich drew two fly outs from the first two Pioneers batters, but was unable to close out the game. She allowed a walk and two singles, the last of which was an RBI by Gonzalez that tied the score at 4-4. Junior pitcher Shelbi Denman quickly took the mound and ended the inning, but the damage was done.

Stony Brook managed just one hit in the next two innings, popping up to all four Sacred Heart infielders. Senior shortstop Nicole McCarvill produced their lone hit in extra innings.

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