Despite a stellar showing by starting pitcher Ashton Melaas, offensive struggles sank the Stony Brook softball team in extra innings.
After being swept over the weekend, the Seawolves (8-14, 0-6 CAA) faced off against the St. John’s Red Storm at University Field on Wednesday, March 22. A pitcher’s duel ensued, and Stony Brook was shut out 2-0 in nine innings.
Elite pitching between the two teams sent the game to extra innings with no score on either side. However, Stony Brook had a chance to win it in regulation.
Melaas’ dominant performance gave the Seawolves plenty of chances to take the lead, the best of which came in the bottom of the eighth inning. Third baseman Brooke Dye lined a hit down the right field line and past the outstretched glove of St. John’s right fielder Peyton Cody. Dye strolled into second base for a standing double, putting the potential walk-off run in scoring position. A single by center fielder Alicia Orosco moved Dye to third base with just one out.
Stuck in a major jam, St. John’s relief pitcher Carolina Zamudio escaped unscathed. Zamudio got two strikes on left fielder Shauna Nuss before she was asked to bunt. She bunted foul, resulting in a killer strikeout.
Zamudio then got designated player Julianna Sanzone to fly out to right field, stranding the winning run and sending the game to the ninth inning.
In the top of the ninth inning, shortstop Naiah Ackerman sailed her throw over the head of first baseman Ashley Jacobson, allowing a leadoff baserunner. St. John’s catcher Katie Whittaker then stepped to the plate and crushed a two-run homer over the center field fence, breaking the stalemate and spoiling Melaas’ career day.
The Seawolves were unable to crack the scoreboard in the bottom of the ninth inning, as second baseman Sofia Chambers popped out to shortstop for the game’s final out.
Melaas pitched 8 ⅔ innings on Wednesday, allowing just two runs (one earned) on six hits. She struck out four batters and walked only one. Over her last four outings, she has pitched to a .99 ERA in 28 ⅓ innings.
Associate head coach Benet Higgs commended Melaas for her performance and was confident in the team’s ability to improve at the plate in the future.
“It’s great to see Ashton get better and better in the circle as the season goes on,” Higgs said in a postgame interview with The Statesman. “There’s three parts to the game. Today we had the pitching and the defense, and as the hitters continue to attack, we’ll start to put the three things together.”
Stony Brook hardly touched St John’s pitchers, as starting pitcher Hannah Mearns and Zamudio combined for a three-hit shutout. Mearns allowed only one hit through the first four innings while striking out three and walking one. Zamudio picked up where Mearns left off, surrendering two hits through five innings while punching out two and walking one.
Dye was one of the few bright spots for Stony Brook’s offense. She went 2-for-3 at the plate with a double and had Stony Brook’s only base hit through the first seven innings. Orosco had the team’s only other hit, going 1-for-4. Sanzone and Chambers both went 0-for-3 but drew the Seawolves’ only two walks. Right fielder Catherine Anne Kupinski was also hit by a pitch.
Head coach Megan Bryant did not speak to the media after the game.
The Seawolves will look to get back on track as conference play resumes this weekend. They will travel to Philadelphia to take on the Drexel Dragons in a three-game series, starting with a doubleheader on Saturday. The first pitches are scheduled for 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., respectively. The Dragons are 5-13 on the year and 2-1 in conference play after beating North Carolina A&T on Sunday.