After winning an elimination game to advance to the next round of the 2023 Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) softball tournament, the Stony Brook softball team stayed alive and did it once again.
The seventh-seeded Seawolves’ (27-26, 10-13 CAA) quest for an automatic bid continued on Wednesday at Bill Edwards Stadium. They began their day with a 5-2 loss to the third-seeded Hofstra Pride, but then fought off elimination with a 2-1 win in extra innings to knock out the fourth-seeded Elon Phoenix.
In Stony Brook’s opening matchup, Hofstra struck first. To start the bottom of the second inning, starting pitcher Ashton Melaas issued two free passes and paid the consequences. With two runners on and no outs, Hofstra catcher Becca Vaillancourt doubled into the right-center field gap to drive in both runners.
Another walk by Melaas followed by a sacrifice bunt allowed Hofstra left fielder Kayla Wilson to hit a sacrifice fly. Now leading 3-0, Hofstra second baseman Kasey Collins laced an RBI single into left field to cap off the Pride’s four-run inning.
With one out left to get in the bottom of the second inning, Melaas was removed from the contest in favor of relief pitcher Mia Haynes. Melaas struggled mightily in her short outing. She allowed four earned runs on two hits while striking out one batter and walking three in her 1 ⅔ innings of work.
In the top of the third inning, Stony Brook put runners on the corners against Hofstra starting pitcher Julia Apsel. Center fielder Alicia Orosco attempted to steal second base and was caught stealing, but third baseman Brooke Dye dashed home from third base to score.
In the bottom of the third inning, the Seawolves’ run was neutralized. With two outs and a runner on first base, catcher Corinne Badger picked a dribbler from Hofstra designated player Aliya Catanzarita and airmailed it over first baseman Ashley Jacobson’s head. Hofstra shortstop Meghan Giordano scored all the way from first base on the play to restore the Pride’s four-run lead.
Stony Brook’s bats were quiet until the top of the seventh inning, where the team fought hard to try to comeback. The Seawolves loaded the bases with three consecutive one-out hits, and right fielder Catherine Anne Kupinski reached on a fielder’s choice to score a run. However, Apsel was able to escape the jam by getting Jacobson to pop out to seal the game.
Apsel pitched very well for the Pride, keeping Stony Brook’s bats at bay all game. Hofstra’s lefty tossed a complete game and allowed just two runs on eight hits while striking out six batters and walking three.
Despite the loss, Haynes pitched well. In 4 ⅓ innings pitched, she allowed just an unearned run on three hits while walking three batters.
Because of how the bracket was set, the loser of the Elon-Towson game had to face the loser of the Stony Brook-Hofstra game. Fifth-seeded Towson defeated Elon 7-5, setting up an elimination game between the Seawolves and the Phoenix.
Elon swept Stony Brook in the opening series of the conference season. However, this time around, it was the Seawolves who came out on top.
With the team’s season on the brink of elimination, head coach Megan Bryant gave the ball to Haynes.
Haynes continued the success she found in relief against Hofstra and delivered an outstanding performance against Elon. She pitched a complete game, pitching all eight innings while allowing only one run on seven hits. She struck out only one batter while walking four, but she pitched around the Phoenix’s baserunners.
Haynes hurled the gem without much run support. Bryant commended Haynes’ performances following the win.
“Really gritty by Mia,” Bryant said in a postgame interview with Stony Brook Athletics. “She was at her best when her best was needed. We asked a lot from her today and she delivered.”
Despite the lack of run support for Haynes, Stony Brook did score right away. Facing Elon starting pitcher Meredith Wells in the top of the first inning, Jacobson delivered a two-out RBI single to center field to give Stony Brook an early 1-0 lead.
After three shutout innings from Haynes, the Phoenix drew even in the bottom of the fourth. Elon catcher Carley Davis got a hold of a pitch to leadoff the inning and blasted it into the left field seats to tie the game at one apiece.
In the bottom of the seventh inning, Stony Brook was in danger of having its season ended. With two outs and two runners on base, Haynes walked Elon first baseman Claudia Penny to load the bases. However, she escaped the jam by getting Davis to fly out. The 1-1 tie went to extras, where Elon finally broke.
In the top of the eighth inning, Costello led off with a double into the left-center field gap. Kupinski bunted her over to third base, putting the go-ahead run on third base with less than two outs.
Wells fanned Jacobson to record a huge second out, but she then fell behind 3-0 to Badger. On the 3-0 pitch, Wells spiked a pitch that bounced past Davis and went to the backstop. Costello came sprinting down the third-base line and scored the lead run.
Haynes pitched a 1-2-3 bottom of the eighth inning to close the game out, sending Stony Brook to the next round and ending Elon’s season.
Following the game, Bryant praised her team’s gutsy performance in an elimination game.
“Just a really gritty win by our group,” Bryant said. “Tough, tough ballgame. A lot of respect for the Elon team and I’m so happy for our group to pull it out.”
Throughout the two games, Costello had another nice day at the plate. She went 2-for-6 with a double, two runs scored, two walks and a stolen base. Jacobson also contributed offensively in both games, going 3-for-8 with a double and an RBI.
Second baseman Sofia Chambers had a good day as well, going 2-for-4 while laying down two successful sacrifice bunts. Orosco also put together a nice day at the dish, going 4-for-8 out of the leadoff spot. Dye continued her postseason success, going 2-for-5 with a run scored and a walk.
Between the two games, Haynes pitched 12 ⅓ innings and allowed only two runs (one earned) on 10 hits. She only struck out one hitter and walked seven, but her defense was equal to the task, particularly against Elon.
The Seawolves will be back in action on Thursday at 5 p.m. for the tournament semifinals. Their opponent is to be determined. Two games will be played earlier in the day, and Stony Brook will play the lowest-seed of the two losers. If the Seawolves win that game, they will play the higher seed of the two losers on Friday at 2:30 p.m.