Pitching key in wins over Mason

One of the key aspects in winning softball games is also one of the hardest to come by: strong pitching. The GW softball team has found pitching to be one of its strengths this season, something that was proven Wednesday night when the team shut out George Mason 5-0 and 1-0 in a home doubleheader.

“Pitching is keeping us competitive and keeping us in every game,” Coach JoAnne Ferguson said. “It’s strong and it’s effective this year.”

Sophomore Gabby Culp (8-3) earned the win in the first game, pitching all seven innings while recording five strikeouts and two walks. Classmate Katie Miller (6-2) had a similarly successful afternoon, striking out seven batters while allowing one walk in her full-game effort.

“Gabby and Katie both did a really great job of hitting their spots,” Ferguson said. “They came out throwing hard. Everything was working today. I thought they both did an excellent job coming out strong on the mound, confident on the mound. They put us in a really good position to win those games.”

The addition of assistant pitching coach Doc DeBenedictis has given the hurlers more opportunities to improve.

The Colonials (20-14, 3-5 Atlantic 10) finished the 2005 season 10-34, the second-worst overall record in the Atlantic 10. They jumped out to a 6-2 record in fall play and are only one of four teams in the 11-team A-10 to boast a winning record.

An example of the program’s improvement can be seen from sophomore Jen Hrycyna’s no-hitter against James Madison just more than a week ago. The right-hander’s performance was the first of the sort in the program’s four-year history.

Despite the Colonials’ strong defense, the team also recognizes the importance of good hitting and offense.

“We’ve been working a lot on scoring runs,” Belanger said. “We’ve been playing run games in practice where we have to score a certain amount of runs, and we can’t leave practice until we score that amount of runs. That’s been helping us in the games.”

Against Mason (1-35), sophomore Hilary King capitalized on the extra work. Her three-run homer in the fifth inning put the Colonials up 5-0 in the first game. GW’s only run in the second game was scored by sophomore Lisa Cohen off a fielding error by Mason short stop Kelsey Mack.

Despite the long season, the team is used to arduous practice hours, which makes doubleheaders less physically tiring.

Ferguson added, “we practice three hours a day, so they’re use to competing and practicing and playing.”

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