Softball salvages tough weekend with win against Dayton

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Mark Eisenhauer.

After seven straight losses, the softball team finished its final home stand on a high note Sunday, defeating Dayton 3-0.

But the win, on a day that honored the teams graduating seniors Chelsea Curcio, Alexandra Del Prete and Courtney Martin, came on the heels of a disappointing weekend.

GW dropped two games against conference foe Saint Louis. The Colonials fell to the Billikens 7-4 on Friday and 5-4 Saturday. GW would also lose the first of two games against Dayton on Sunday, dropping game one 8-2.

The three losses highlighted the team’s recurring problem with failing to hold leads, compounded by sub-par pitching and defensive performances. But in the final game of the weekend, the Colonials were able to shut out the same Dayton team that scored eight runs on them just hours earlier.

Sophomore Meghan Rico, the team’s go-to starter, struggled with control Friday, allowing eight walks in 5.2 innings of work. While Rico allowed seven runs, only two of those runs were earned as two costly defensive errors would result in scoring opportunities for the Billikens. The Colonials outhit Saint Louis by six but paid for defensive miscues and dropped the game.

Freshman Paige Kovalsky, the Colonials’ third pitcher, had not seen much action this season until last weekend. Kovalsky was called on to make her first-ever start in Saturday’s game and held her own for the first five innings.

“I was planning on Rico just throwing 28 innings this weekend. I thought she was our best option,” head coach Stacey Schramm said. “Then on Friday, we gave up too many free bases with walks or hit batters. So at that point it was, ‘Who’s going to force the opponents to put the ball in play?’ And Paige did a good job.”

Once again this season, the Colonials squandered a big lead late in the game. Up 4-0 in the top of the sixth inning, GW let the Billikens score three runs in the inning and another two runs in the top of the seventh inning.

The day after her first complete game, Kovalsky got the call once again on Sunday. But after giving up a run in the first and three consecutive walks in the third, she was replaced by Martin in what would be the senior’s final innings on the mound at the Mount Vernon field.

Martin was charged with four runs in a disappointing end to her senior season, but her teammates said Martin’s performance will not overshadow her career, with Rico calling her a “role model.”

The Colonials turned to Martin’s “protege” to start the final game of the weekend, hoping to pull off one win in their final home stand.

GW maintained a consistent offense, scoring runs off hits by freshman Megan Linn, junior Samantha Dos Santos and sophomore Maura Murphy. Rico also had an outstanding performance, recording nine strikeouts in seven innings while only allowing three hits.

“There was a difference in confidence. It’s been a struggle all year. It has just been a really tough season,” Rico said. “I think I came in today with a whole different attitude. I tried to just go out there and play for the seniors and play the best I could.”

In the top of the fifth, an all too familiar scene began to unfold. Up by three, the Flyers had runners on the corners with only one out. It looked like the beginning of an offensive snowball.

But after a team huddle with Schramm, Rico settled in and made sure Dayton could not steal this final home win. Two pop ups off well-placed pitches by Rico got the Colonials out of the inning and preserved their lead.

Though tournament hopes are all but lost, the Colonials broke through their frustration Sunday and walked off their home turf with a win.

“It’s a shame because we had one of our worst years since I’ve been here,” Schramm said. “[The seniors] have been part of all the building parts, so we need to look at the big picture and realize exactly how much they meant. It’s frustrating we couldn’t give them a better year, but it was a great day. We ended on a really good note.”

The Colonials, now 17-30-1, have just two games left – both against Rhode Island this weekend.

Game note: Between Sunday’s double header, GW retired the number of softball alumna Elana Meyers. Meyers visited the field to throw the game’s first pitch.

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