Cinderella, it turns out, lives right here on Long Island.
Stony Brook University's Seawolves baseball team, underdogs going into this year's collegiate championships, surprised everybody but themselves by defeating powerhouse Louisiana State University on Sunday night to make it to the upcoming College World Series.
Given the way of things in the world of college baseball, this is an amazing feat. The sport is dominated by Sunbelt schools that have a distinct weather advantage; no Northeastern team has made the College World Series in 26 years. Stony Brook, moreover, only joined Division I in baseball (the highest level of competition) in the 1999-2000 academic year.
Now the Seawolves are in the running for a national championship. It's the first time in the school's history that the team has made the final eight for the showdown in Omaha -- and a testament to a lot of hard work by coach Matt Senk and his talented players, seven of whom have been drafted by major league organizations. Two of the seven, Pat Cantwell and Willie Carmona, hail from Long Island.
Speaking of hard work, kudos are also owed to Hofstra University's softball team. The aptly named Pride fell just one victory short of its own first College World Series berth this season, despite the heroics of pitching ace Olivia Galati, the team's first and Hofstra's fifth All American. Wait till next year!
Meanwhile, whether Stony Brook goes all the way or not, this team's magical season is spotlighting an institution on the move.
Last year Stony Brook got a staggering $150-million gift from James and Marilyn Simons and the Simons Foundation, which the university will use to boost medical research, hire professors and recruit top students.
More recently, Stony Brook announced funding of $20 million that it will use to set up a new Institute for Advanced Computational Science.
Whatever you think of big-time intercollegiate sports, there's no doubt it can raise the profile of a school. Stony Brook's profile amply deserves raising.