Albany has always been a thorn in the side of Stony Brook softball. The Great Danes own a 41-30 all-time record against the Seawolves, and with Stony Brook’s decision to move to the CAA starting in 2023, this weekend’s series against the Danes was likely the last time the two foes would face each other at University Field for the foreseeable future.
The Seawolves sent Albany packing on a sour note.
After splitting Saturday’s doubleheader — a 4-0 win in game one and a 10-6 loss in game two — the series came down to a rubber game on Sunday, May 1. Down by one run in the fifth inning of game three, shortstop Kyra McFarland launched a game-winning two-run double off the left field wall to lead the Seawolves (30-14, 9-4 AE) to an 8-7 win over Albany (23-15, 10-6 AE).
“This was an incredible effort by our team and a true team win,” head coach Megan T. Bryant said in an interview with The Statesman. “We kept fighting and players stepped up offensively, defensively and in the circle. I couldn’t be prouder of our group for finding a way to win this game and take the important series from Albany.”
McFarland’s clutch double capped off a back-and-forth home series that was characterized by timely offense and strong pitching by the Seawolves.
Pitcher Dawn Bodrug was lights out in game one. She tossed seven scoreless innings and struck out 15 batters.
Stony Brook’s bats woke up in the third inning when left fielder Shauna Nuss drove in third baseman Brooke Dye with a ground ball to third base. Albany third baseman Sierra Fretz was unable to field the ball cleanly, allowing Dye to score on an error. McFarland further capitalized on the situation later in the inning when she drove in Nuss on a fielder’s choice.
After taking a two-run lead in the third, the Seawolves continued to pile on in the sixth. First baseman Lindsey Osmer and second baseman Sofia Chambers hit a double and a single, respectively, to drive in a pair of runs.
Stony Brook’s four-run lead was never jeopardized. Bodrug closed out game one for her 18th win of 2022 and the 47th complete game of her career.
Albany retaliated in game two when tasked with facing pitcher Shelbi Denman. The senior tossed four innings and surrendered nine runs to the Great Danes, ballooning her ERA from 1.93 to 2.51.
Stony Brook gave Denman early run support. Right fielder Alyssa Costello opened the first inning with an RBI double on a 3-2 count to give the Seawolves a 1-0 edge. Osmer increased the lead to two runs by scoring Costello on a fielder’s choice. However, the big blow came when first baseman Ashley Jacobson clobbered a two-run shot over the center field wall.
Stony Brook’s four-run lead looked insurmountable for the Great Danes at first. But Albany rallied in the second inning to get within one run.
Things fell apart for Denman in the fifth inning. It all started when pitcher Wendi Hammond homered to tie the game at four runs. Soon after, the Great Danes were able to manufacture another run to take a one-run lead before piling on with a grand slam by first baseman Katie Falotico.
Falotico made the Seawolves pay once again in the seventh inning with an RBI triple to give the Great Danes their 10th run of the game. She finished the day with four hits and five RBIs.
Dye launched a two-run home run over the left center field fence in the sixth inning, but it was not enough to topple Albany’s double-digit scoring output in game two.
“These were the two hard-fought ballgames we expected today,” Bryant said. “Game one, we put all three parts of our game together to earn the win. That’s what we need tomorrow to win the series — be productive offensively, pitch it tough and continue to play outstanding defense.”
The rubber match commenced at 12 p.m. on the following day. Much like game two, it was a back-and-forth affair with a number of clutch at bats on both sides of the diamond.
Bodrug took the circle and struggled when compared to game one. She lasted only 4.1 innings and surrendered a career-high seven earned runs to the Great Danes, giving up a pair of three-run long balls.
Both teams manufactured one run apiece via small ball in the first inning. But once again, the big blow for Stony Brook came via the bat of Jacobson. She cracked a three-run shot to left center to give the Seawolves a 4-1 lead in the first inning. She finished the series with two home runs, both of which came on a full count.
Stony Brook’s lead was quickly diminished when Albany shortstop Lové Drumgole launched a three-run homer of her own in the second inning.
Catcher Corinne Badger, who was kept quiet in the first two games, stepped up to the dish in a big spot in the third inning. McFarland stood on third base after singling and stealing two bags. After a failed suicide squeeze attempt, Badger made Albany pay when she ripped a single into center field to score McFarland.
“Corinne showed great poise to come back and have that timely hit,” Bryant said.
Once again, Stony Brook’s lead was short-lived. This time, designated player Maranda Jimenez took Bodrug deep for another three-run home run. The pivotal at-bat lasted for 10 pitches, and it resulted in Bodrug leaving the game in line for a 7-5 loss. Her ERA shot up from 1.58 to 1.84.
It all came down to the sixth inning. Chambers reached base on a fielder’s choice with one out. She advanced to second on a single by left fielder Catherine Anne Kupinski.
With Chambers in scoring position, center fielder Alicia Orosco roped a single down the first base line. Bryant waved Chambers home in what ended up being a close play at the plate. Chambers slid wide of the plate and reached her hand in to avoid the tag, scoring to get the Seawolves within one run.
“You don’t really think of it,” Bryant said when asked about sending Chambers. “You just react a little bit. You know it’s a pretty long throw for the right fielder to make. I thought [Chambers] made a great slide.”
The sixth inning culminated in a do-or-die at-bat by McFarland. She stepped to the plate with runners on first and third and the game on the line. On a 2-1 count, she launched a shot that one-hopped the left field fence for a two-run double to take an 8-7 lead.
“I had to do my job,” said McFarland. “We had been stringing hits together that entire inning, and then I was in a 2-1 count. That pitcher had been missing when she was in 2-1 counts. So I thought she was going to throw something over the plate. I was just looking to hit that next pitch.”
It was McFarland’s third hit of the day and her fifth of the series against Albany.
Pitcher Ashton Melaas, who relieved Bodrug in the fourth inning, shut down the Great Danes in the bottom of the sixth to seal the deal.
“We gave Ashton the game ball for her performance,” Bryant said. “She knows what it’s like to be in precious situations. She won a national championship in NJC. She’s been working hard at practice and it showed today.”
As for Bryant, the win was her 600th as Stony Brook’s head coach. It also marked the 10th time the Seawolves have reached 30 wins in a season under Bryant’s leadership.
Stony Brook will close out the regular season with a two-game home series against the UMass Minutewomen before heading to Lowell to face the UMass Lowell River Hawks.