2013 NCAA Softball Tournament, Columbia Regional: Stony Brook has struggled against top teams

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We learned last year that Stony Brook doesn't mess around on the diamond. Can the softball team follow up on baseball's dramatic run to the 2012 College World Series? Let's hope not.

SBU Schedule/Results:

Stony Brook went 35-23 on the year coming out of the America East Conference. They went a solid 18-3 at home, but only 17-20 away (6-9 in true road games and 11-11 in neutral sites). With a RPI of 123, they are lacking both games against top schools, and wins against them as well. Their best opponent for the year was #15 Louisville who beat them twice by a combined score of 13-0 in the first tourney of the season. They also have losses against #40 NC State (16-2), #50 kansas (12-0), and #60 Ohio State (11-4). Their best win on the year was against #75 Longwood (who did make the tourney from the Big South), who they beat 3-2 (while also losing later 3-0). In conference, they did beat #98 Albany three times in six total games (regular season and conference tourney). The Sea Wolves went 10-8 and finished 4th in conference behind Albany, Binghamton and Hartford, all of whom they beat in the conference tourney (including two wins against Albany on Championship Day) to sneak into the bracket.

SBU Offense (stats only through 5/14):

In a word…meh. In a real word, mediocre. Using their lineup from the America East Conference Tournament Championship winning games, here is how they stack up

1. Jessica Combs (Jr-SS) - .268 and led the team in nothing at the plate

2. Olivia Mintun (Jr-3B) - .247 and led the team in HBP with 11

3. Shayla Giosia (So-CF) - .321 and led the team in AB’s (196), hits (63), runs (35), RBI (35), HR (t-7), SB’s (9)

4. Bria Green (So-RF) - .355 and led the team in average, doubles (18), slugging (.581), OPB (.416), HR (t-7)

5. Nicole Hagerty (Jr-1B) - .222 and led the team in walks (20)

6. Kellie Reynolds (Fr-LF) - .308 in 18 starts

7. Gina Bianculli (Sr-2B) - .211 in 58 starts

8. Nicole Schieferstein (Jr-C) - .247 in 29 starts

9. Alexandra Pisciotta (Fr-DP) - .307 in 40 starts

Not much going on to set the tables for Giosia and Green who are both solid. After that, the lineup really falls off a good bit. Of note, only the one senior and one sophomore, with a ton of juniors and a couple of frosh. Only Reynolds and Schieferenstein have fewer than 40 starts, so I don’t think there has been a tremendous amount of player movement this season.

SBU Defense:

Their defense really was pretty solid, as their percentage of .970 was ahead of MU (.962). With pitchers who pitched to contact, the Wolves only had 52 errors (to MU’s 50). Combs at SS was the leader with 14 and Mintun had eight at the hot corner. The errors accounted for only 35 unearned runs (by comparison, MU gave up 54 in over 100 FEWER innings)

SBU Pitching:

SBU had three pitchers they used this year who each saw 14 or more starts. The primary pitcher appears to be sophomore Alison Cukrov, who had the most starts (27) and who pitched both games of the tournament-clinching day. She is 15-14 on the year (with 5 saves) in 186.2 innings. She has given up 181 hits and 82 BB’s with a batting average against of .257. Her ERA is a decent 2.74 with 147 K’s and 14 HR’s. I would imagine next up would be junior Christine Lucido, who started 17 games and went 12-2 with 3 saves in her 33 total appearances. She threw 117.1 innings with 121 hits and only 26 BB’s, so her control appears to be better than Cukrov. She had a batting average against of .264 (team was .256) with 58 K’s and only 4 HR’s.

Overall Thoughts:

If asked, I don’t believe I could have foreseen a better opponent for us in the first game. It brings Nicole Hudson into the picture as a possible means to save innings from Chelsea’s forearm. However, here is where the loss of Erwin really hurts potentially. If you look at the weekend as a three-game series (which it is if you never lose), then we have seen Thomas succeed with a Friday/Sunday combo. So one way to go is start her against SBU. Obviously, if the game gets out of hand early, you can bring in Hudson (or even Muller) and you further save the innings. But, are you then comfortable with the idea of Nicole Hudson pitching a winner’s bracket game against either #36 Oregon State or #20 Hofstra?

I could have seen where you throw Erwin in that case, but I just don’t see it happening with Hudson. The other option is to throw Hudson against SBU (a team she should certainly help you defeat) and then you have Thomas coming back against the better competition, but without the day off in between on Sunday should you advance. And if you should lose a game along the way…well…yeah. At any rate, as it pertains to SBU, MU has wins against 16 teams with a higher RPI than SBU. Good for them for earning their conference spot the hard way, and here’s hoping they can do some damage in the loser’s bracket against someone we eventually face. Anything less than a run-rule win (as harsh as that sounds) would be considered potentially disappointing as we aim to keep as much tread on the tires as possible moving forward.

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