The first game GW dropped Sunday was a slugfest, with GW falling 8-0 to Massachusetts.
The second was a tight pitcher’s duel in which only one run had crossed the plate until Minutewomen senior pitcher Sara Plourde hit a homer just over the left field fence in the sixth, clinching a 2-0 Massachusetts victory.
It was Plourde’s fast, high-rising pitch that stumped the Colonials, as the team was unable to adjust for her breaking, shifting balls. As she stood on the mound against GW, Plourde proved why she currently leads the nation in strikeouts and holds the all-time A-10 record in that category.
“She definitely had some speed on her ball, and she had a whole lot of movement. She had a great rise ball that was really getting our batters,” senior pitcher Heidi Penna said.
Entering Sunday’s first contest against Massachusetts, the Colonials were riding a three-game win streak that had roots in six victories over GW’s previous seven games.
Plourde struck out 13 in the first game of the afternoon, setting herself up for her first no-hitter of the day. With GW unable to solve Plourde’s pitching arsenal, Massachusetts was free to concentrate on its offense, tallying eight runs over the game. The Colonials cycled through three pitchers: sophomore Courtney Martin, Penna and freshman Chelsea Pedley, before the game ended in the fifth innin because of the mercy rule.
“[Plourde’s] movement is unbelievable, and that combined with speed,” head coach Stacey Schramm said. “She’s got the most strikeouts in the country for a reason.”
When GW saw that Massachusetts would return Plourde to the mound for the second game of the afternoon, they rallied together, Penna said, cheering to stay focused and bring a new presence in the second contest. Schramm, aware the Colonials were staring down another tough battle at the plate, told her team to choose its pitches wisely.
“Other than making smart adjustments, we knew she was going to get tired, we talked about not swinging at the rise ball, not helping her out and we did,” Schramm said. “We still didn’t hit well in the second game, but we put the ball in play.”
The second contest of the day was more tightly contested at the first, Penna settling down to pitch a complete game after the Minutewomen scored in the first. She faced 28 batters, striking out two and allowing two runs on five hits. Though GW was able to put the ball in play more in the second game, Penna soon locked into a duel with Plourde, who struck out 12 Colonials.
“You just have to continue focusing as if it’s any other day,” Penna said. “You just have to stay focused on what you do. You can’t think about the other team.”
Its two victories against Rhode Island Friday and Saturday evened GW’s A-10 record at five, but dropping two to Massachusetts put the Colonials’ league tally below .500 to finish the weekend.