Alyssa Costello embodies the term “brain and brawn.” Her success on the softball diamond is equaled in the classroom. The biochemistry major and standout outfielder is poised for a big sophomore season after a sensational rookie campaign.
Costello was born and raised in Lanoka Harbor, N.J. She comes from an athletic background, which includes her mother, Dawn, who played softball and field hockey in high school. Costello followed in her mother’s footsteps by playing both sports, but it was always clear to her what her true love was.
“I always had more of a passion for softball over field hockey,” Costello said in an interview with The Statesman. “Field hockey was more of my hobby as a break for fun, whereas softball, I felt a desire and a real passion for it to continue post-high school. I never really fell in love with field hockey like I did with softball. It was the sport that I played first and the one that really took my heart.”
Costello is the definition of a die-hard softballer through and through. Due to her mother’s passion for the sport, Costello began playing at the tee-ball level as a four-year-old. This eventually led her to join a travel softball team when she was nine.
While attending the Marine Academy of Technology and Environment Science in New Jersey, Costello played on the varsity softball team for all four years of her high school career. During her illustrious tenure, she received the Lacey Rookie of the Year Award, the Lacey MVP Award, the Lacey Golden Bat Award, a First Team All-State selection and more.
Despite her preference for softball, Costello was no slouch in field hockey. She was the captain of both the softball and field hockey teams at her high school. Costello attributes a good amount of her success in softball to her field hockey days.
“It’s good to get a different perspective on a sport and see how they overlap,” Costello said. “Dealing with different girls on different teams, I got leadership skills from two different aspects … To combine them and be able to bring that to my game in college now when I’m only playing one sport, I think that helped a lot.”
Although Costello played softball her whole life, the prospect of playing at the collegiate level never really clicked with her until she was a freshman in high school. That year, an older teammate of hers, Erika Holowka, committed to play NCAA Division III softball at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI). Holowka was Costello’s role model, and her commitment inspired Costello to pursue the same career.
“I looked up to her as a leader and a role model both on and off the field,” Costello said. “The way that she carried herself on the field and the passion that she showed for the game really inspired me to want to play college softball.”
Even after all of her success in softball, Costello always put her academics first. On top of all her athletic accomplishments, she also was a member of the National Honor Society and won the Lacey Academic Award in her senior year.
Science has always been a major interest of Costello. While in high school, Costello took part in the Project Terrapin Outreach and Research Assistance Development and she placed second at the Jersey Shore Science Fair in 2018.
Costello’s love for the science field played a major role in her recruitment. Stony Brook was the best of both worlds for her: a strong biochemistry program and a Division I softball program to boot.
“During my recruiting, I always looked at academics over athletics,” Costello said. “As long as at the school, I was able to major in what I wanted to major in, that was always my first priority. When I was able to do that here and play at a Division I level, that was like the cherry on top for me.”
Though a star in high school, Costello began her college career sitting on the bench. Admittedly frustrated, she kept her composure.
“I had to realize that I am capable of doing it,” Costello said. “I just needed to keep putting in the effort and keep putting in the work because it will pay off.”
That work and patience paid dividends once head coach Megan Bryant gave Costello a chance. A season-ending injury to outfielder Juliana Sanzone and a heavy slump from outfielder Shauna Nuss gave Costello an opportunity to get some playing time. After that, she hit the ground running, going on a 15-game hitting streak that included a 5-for-5 performance against Fairfield on March 26.
Costello never looked back after getting the opportunity and quickly became the team’s starting right fielder and three-hole hitter. She posted a slash line of .373/.418/.578 while slugging nine doubles and four home runs. She also drove in 28 runs while scoring another 27. She even made an impact on the basepaths, stealing seven bases in eight tries. In a runaway race, Costello won the America East Conference (AE) batting title by 21 points.
Costello’s fantastic rookie season led her to be named to the AE All-Conference Second Team and the AE All-Rookie Team. She attributed her success to keeping a positive attitude and a simple mindset.
“I knew when I finally did get my opportunity, I wanted to make the most of it,” Costello said. “I didn’t want to put too much pressure on myself … all I wanted to do was just help my team in whatever way that I could … So I tried to keep it loose, keep it fun and just go out there and do my best every time.”
Costello plans to take a leadership role this season to help incoming freshmen adjust to college and pass on the knowledge that was given to her as a newcomer.
“I’m trying to be more of a mentor for them to guide them in the right direction and help them out,” Costello said. “I enjoy helping people because last year, I had upperclassmen that helped me.”
No matter what happens during her softball career, Costello’s post-graduation plan is to attend graduate school and focus on her passion for science.
“My ultimate goal is to build a career doing some kind of research,” Costello said. “I really like neuroscience, so maybe something in that regard, but just doing something with my degree.”
In the meantime, Costello is primed for another huge season. She will now look to terrorize the Seawolves’ new opponents with her powerful bat in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA).
“It’s a really exciting position that our team is in this year, just to be able to go in with a clean slate and be able to really prove something,” Costello said. “With the group of girls that we have right now, we’re very capable of making a bang in the new conference.”
Matt Howlin contributed reporting.