The Colonials returned from a disheartening loss in game one of a doubleheader Saturday to nab a victory in the second game.
The win, more than a returning salvo after an opening defeat, was crucial for GW’s place in the conference standings as it looks to qualify for the Atlantic 10 tournament.
It was also a victory on Senior Day – a final honor for the team’s outgoing members.
“We knew that we needed to beat our opponent because they’re standing in the way of us making it to the A-10 tournament, and we did just that,” senior pitcher Heidi Penna said. “The first game was close, but we came back in the second game and got them.”
GW, Charlotte, Saint Louis and Temple all currently sit at .500 in league play. It’s a tight race that makes every game crucial, meaning GW needed to answer with a victory after falling to Dayton in the first game Saturday to maintain its position in the standings.
The Colonials were ahead of the Flyers 5-2 entering the final inning of the game one, but gave up four runs over the last stretch of play to ultimately fall 6-5.
Adding to the frustrating nature of the loss, senior pitcher Kara Clauss was sidelined after taking a ball to the shin in the first game’s final inning. She could not return to action for the rest of Saturday, which added extra motivation for GW heading into game two of the doubleheader.
“She’s part of the team, she’s part of our family. So we had to come back and win the next game for her,” Penna said.
The second game was scoreless through the first inning but with GW and Dayton in competition for a slot in Atlantic 10 tournament play, the Colonials were determined to seize and maintain momentum and took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second.
Junior Autumn Taylor singled to land on base, stole second and advanced to third before scoring on sophomore Chelsea Lenhart’s sacrifice fly.
“In the second game, we were just, from start to finish, we were going to win. We were going to make sure it was very clear who the better team was,” head coach Stacey Schramm said.
The Colonials augmented their lead with a three-run fifth inning. Freshman Victoria Valos started the scoring with an RBI single and later crossed home plate herself. Senior Lauren Wilson capped GW’s 4-0 victory with the final score of the inning, coming home on a passed ball.
Penna, who relied on her rise ball and change-up throughout the day, pitched the close of the first game and all of the second. Though she allowed the double that cemented Dayton’s victory in game one, Penna settled down in the second game, allowing no runs on just three hits.
“She shut them down with two pitches. She’s just been lights-out since we played George Mason. We played George Mason a week ago,” Schramm said. “She’s just been unbelievable.”
The Colonials have four A-10 games remaining this season, two each against Saint Louis and St. Bonaventure. As the league’s 11 teams vie for a spot in the six-team tournament, remaining strong against the league rivals will be crucial.
Despite a high-stakes environment, the team remains calm, Schramm said, backed by its strong play over recent games.
“We’re all kind of middle of the pack. The good thing is we are playing so well, so there’s no jitters. They’re just comfortable,” Schramm said. “They’re hitting well, they’re feeling well, they’re doing everything that we practiced and are applying it in the game.”
This article appeared in the April 23, 2012 issue of the Hatchet.