Softball finishes on a high note

Monday, May 4

Though unable to improve their status as onlookers for the upcoming Atlantic 10 Tournament, the GW softball team ended a difficult season on a positive note Saturday with an upset doubleheader sweep of conference rival Saint Louis, winning 6-0 and 6-5.

The second win came in unusual fashion, as junior Elisa Van Kirk was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to bring home the deciding run and win the game.

The Colonials’ (16-33, 6-14 A-10) victories over the Billikens – who entered the day tied for second place in the conference – represented a high point for the team, who hadn’t won both games of a twinbill since early March.

“We all had our ups and downs, but we played defensively well today,” said senior Carrie Higdon, who had a single and an RBI in the first game. “We finished hard, and it was a great way to go.”

Junior Amanda Gabriel opened the day’s scoring when she came home on a Higdon walk in the second inning of game one. Freshman Krissy Mackiewicz followed with a single to left field, giving two of her teammates enough time to score. A fourth run followed shortly thereafter off the bat of senior Tori Sensi, and GW ended the second inning with a 4-0 lead.

That cushion would be all Gabriel needed on the mound, as the junior tossed a complete-game shutout, allowing five hits while striking out four Billikens. Saint Louis threatened Gabriel’s shutout in the third, when Rachel O’Connell reached base with a walk and then stole two bases. But Gabriel was able to work out of the jam, retiring the next two batters and ultimately preserving her team’s lead for the eventual 6-0 win.

Head coach Kim Staehle said she was very pleased, commenting that the team had a lot of great hits and “accomplished the goal of the game.”

Yet the Colonials did not start off the second game with the same momentum as the first. Saint Louis immediately registered three runs in the first inning of GW freshman Heidi Penna, and by the end of the fourth inning, the Colonials had yet to make it onto the score board. To make matters worse, the Billikens then scored two more runs, increasing their lead to 5-0.

However, in the fifth inning, GW tied the game with a five-run burst capped by a two-run single by junior Amanda Holst. The game then continued into extra innings, when Van Kirk was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to give the Colonials the victory and a memorable ending to their long season.

“It wasn’t easy,” Higdon said of her final season as a Colonial. “I’m only 21, but my body feels like it’s 30.”

“I was injured for half of the season, but I’m glad I got to play today,” added Sensi. “We did a good job, and I’m going to miss playing with such a great group of girls.”

Looking ahead into next year, Staehle said she plans on pushing the underclassmen a little harder and hopefully adding more numbers to the pitching and catching staff.

“I see our future being much more consistent,” she said.

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