With a nine-game winning streak on the line, the GW softball team defeated UMass for the first time in program history, sweeping the series and extending its win streak to eleven.
Leading up to their triumph over UMass, the Colonials swept two conference games against Rhode Island, with the help of some stellar individual performances. Atlantic 10 conference player of the week, sophomore Victoria Valos, and A-10 conference pitcher and rookie of the week, freshman Meghan Rico, both kept the spotlight on the Colonials over the weekend games.
The Colonials (22-17, 9-3 A-10) played a close first game against Rhode Island (9-26, 2-9), but overcame challenging weather conditions to grab the 9-8 win. In the second game, GW made quick work of the Rams, winning 9-1 in only six innings of play.
GW took advantage of the Rams’ struggling pitching, working the count and coming up with timely walks and hits. Senior Autumn Taylor was an offensive sparkplug for the Colonials, hitting a two-run homerun in the top of the sixth, and adding another RBI off her triple to right center. Valos also added two singles and scored twice in the game.
“We sent a strong message to Rhode Island during the second game on Saturday and demonstrated that the weather and field conditions was not on our side during the first game”, said Coach Schramm, “We woke up the next day and said we are going to be a different team.”
Proud of their success over the nine-game winning streak, the Colonials moved to Amherst ready to challenge the defending A-10 conference champion, UMass. GW clicked on all cylinders during the first game of the doubleheader, en route to a comfortable 4-3 win.
“I honestly did not have to tell my girls anything after the first game to keep them motivated. I did not have to pull them in at any point in the game to make strategic adjustment. My job as a coach was very easy today because they were focused 110%.”
The bats got started quickly for the Colonials. Stringing together two singles and walk, GW took a four run lead in the top of the second. They were unable to be effective offensively throughout the rest of the game though, allowing UMass to fight back and ultimately fall just one run short after a three run bottom of the seventh.
The second matchup saw the Colonials remain consistent for the game’s entirety, exerting offensive skill, composure at the pitcher’s mound, and defensive pressure over the six innings of play.
GW started off the first inning with a run by senior Amanda Zakeri off a single to left field. The Colonials then broke the game open in the fifth, scoring three runs on three hits and a walk. Sophomore Samantha Dos Santos capped the inning off with a single to second, allowing Valos to score and increase the lead to 6-0.
Rico, who started on the mound for the Colonials, never looked back after a strong first inning and finished the game with a four-hit shutout. The Minutemen could not muster any runs against Rico, who dropped her season ERA to 2.94 and earned her twelfth win of the season.
“Meghan succeeded in keeping her composure throughout the whole game. I wanted her to focus on not putting her emotions out there”, said Schramm, “She did a good job of maintaining her teammates’ confidence and she is able to bounce back from walking someone and is ready to strike out the next girl that comes up to the plate. ”
At the end of weekend action, two program records were broken by current Colonials. Taylor stole the Colonials’ all-time RBI record, 94, and senior Amanda Zakeri eclipsed the record for career-stolen bases with 69.
Individual records aside, advancing to an eleven-game winning streak and a top two-spot in the current A-10 standings, Schramm is hopeful for Wednesday’s matchup with La Salle.
“We had a great weekend, but we have tough competition ahead. As next week approaches we will remain focused on our goal: to get the top spot for A-10 and win it”, said Schramm.