Dawn Bodrug pitching in the game against Hofstra on Apr. 6, 2021. Bodrug is going on her fifth year of college and her third year at Stony Brook. STEPH MACH/THE STATESMAN

Dawn Bodrug is the ace pitcher that every squad dreams of. Luckily for the Stony Brook softball team, they have been blessed with her domination since her arrival on Long Island in 2020.

Bodrug is now in her fifth year of college and her third year at Stony Brook after pitching for two years at Indian River State College. 

She transferred to Stony Brook back in 2020 and hit the ground running. While Bodrug’s final year in junior college was impressive — 24 wins, a 2.79 ERA and 261 strikeouts in 183 innings — the nine games she pitched in 2020 were an exhibition of next-level dominance. 

Bodrug hurled 47 innings for the Seawolves, pitching to a 0.74 ERA, the best in the America East and eighth-lowest in Division I at the time. This included a perfect game against Cornell, Stony Brook’s first in eight years. However, the COVID-19 pandemic robbed Bodrug of the ability to finish what was looking to be a breakout season. Despite that, she has moved on from the situation.

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“Yes, it sucks getting a year taken away from COVID,” Bodrug said in an interview with The Statesman. “But you know what? I’m getting an education that I dreamt of and I’m playing with a team that just makes it so much fun.”

It’s hard to not be having fun when you’re dominating as Bodrug has. After having the rest of 2020 stripped from her, she came back in 2021 guns blazing in one of the best seasons that a Seawolves pitcher has ever had. Bodrug posted a 1.67 ERA while striking out 245 batters in 163.1 innings. 

She held hitters to a .157 average and pitched 21 complete games, eight of which were shutouts. Her most notable was the no-hitter she fired against Binghamton on March 27, where she struck out 14 and only walked two over seven innings. 

Bodrug (16-8) earned several accolades for her dominant performance. Her 245 strikeouts were the third-most single-season in program history. She was named First-Team All-America East, America East All-Championship team and National Fastpitch Coaches Association Second-Team All-Region. 

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Her prowess transcended her performance on the field, as she did well enough in the classroom to secure a spot on the America East All-Academic Team as well.

Given the dominant stats she put up and the bevy of awards she earned, is it even possible for Bodrug to do any better? According to Bodrug, the answer is yes.

“Absolutely. You should never be settled with yourself,” she said. “I believe that for players in general, but especially for pitchers. If you’re happy where you’re at, then that’s not good enough. You should always want more of yourself.”

She credits the coaching staff with helping her get better coming into this year.

“With our new pitching coaches, we’re learning a lot of new things,” Bodrug said. “We say it as a team: we strive to get 1% better every single day and that’s definitely a goal for myself, pitching-wise. I want my pitches to be that much better than last year because I want to show people things that they haven’t seen yet.”

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It goes without saying that Bodrug is happy to be back for year five of her college career.

“I’m very excited. It’s hard to even put it in words,” she said. “I’m extremely grateful to get this opportunity. I’m playing with a team that makes this so much fun. We have practices that are fun, and that transfers into games. We saw in the fall season, we just play so well together. So, I’m extremely excited to see where this season is going to take us.”

A major obstacle was introduced when the America East disqualified all Stony Brook teams from postseason competition in retaliation for the school’s move to the Colonial Athletic Association this July. 

It’s a cruel way to end a collegiate career, not being able to make the NCAA Tournament save for an exceedingly unlikely at-large invite, but Bodrug and her teammates have altered their focus to deal with it.

“Of course, no championship as of now really does suck, but that makes us just want the regular season title even more,” Bodrug said. “It’s going to make us so much more hungry for that.”

Bodrug already finds herself the elder statesman of her team: she and shortstop Nicole McCarvill are the only fifth-year players on the team, with Stony Brook having graduated four key contributing starters from last season including Melissa Rahrich, Jourdin Hering, Jordyn Nowakowski and Riley Craig.

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“We lost certain personalities, but we also gained other ones,” Bodrug said. “Maybe it’s quieter in a way, but you know what? It’s fun. It’s a great atmosphere. And yeah, of course, those are key players and great teammates that we miss having around, but I’m excited about this group.”

The most notable thing Bodrug is looking forward to this season is facing the UMBC Retrievers’ dominant left-handed pitcher Courtney Coppersmith. The reigning two-time America East Pitcher of the Year faced Bodrug in the conference championship game, winning the 1-0 pitcher’s duel to send Stony Brook home in second place.

“I only had one year against Coppersmith, and we saw in the championship game that it’s head-to-head. I want to win it. We will win it,” Bodrug said confidently. 

Having been through a lot in her career and accomplished much as a Seawolf, Bodrug is primed for one final great year. Now playing the role of team leader along with staff ace, she will have eyes and ears turned to her, as well as a target on her back from all of the hitters she made look and feel foolish last season. One thing is for sure: she can handle it.

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