After the entire tournament was washed out the day before, softball dropped its only two games of the double-elimination Atlantic 10 tournament Thursday afternoon.
Both Massachusetts and Saint Louis were able to get the better of GW (10-13 A-10) in the Colonials’ first postseason appearance since 2013 and fourth in program history.
Despite an abrupt ending to their season, the year was not an unsuccessful one for the Colonials. They finished with program records for doubles (81), triples (21), sacrifice hits (60) and entered the conference tournament as the No. 6 seed.
“This year the team really understood how we are going to accomplish things, which is really becoming a family,” head coach Stacey Schramm said. “It made such a difference and created a great environment. That was the difference between this year and last year. Last year’s team had a ton more talent, but this year’s team played together like a true and hardcore family.”
Game one vs. UMass
After a slow first inning for the Colonials’ bats, UMass got on the board early. An infield single and a walk given up by sophomore Sarah Costlow gave the Minutewomen (15-6 A-10) two runners on with only one out. UMass junior Tara Klee stepped into the batter’s box and with one swing of the bat that sent the ball over the left field fence, her team had a 3–0 lead.
In the second inning, the Colonials tried to respond, aggressively swinging at Minutewomen sophomore Meg Colleran’s pitches. Senior Carlee Gray grabbed ahold of one to lead off the inning with a hard single up the middle. Her base hit ended up as the only one for GW in the first game of the day.
Colleran settled in, picking up the final two outs of the second inning as well as setting down all three Colonial batters in order during innings three, four and five.
The Minutewomen added to their lead in the third inning, due to poor defense by GW. UMass runners stood at second and third with no outs after the Colonials committed two errors. Next up, senior Lindsey Zenk lined a ball over the Colonials second baseman’s head and as it dropped into the outfield, both runners scored – making it a 5–0 game.
“The name of the game is catch the ball, field the ball, throw the ball and have good, solid at-bats,” Schramm said. “We didn’t do that, and UMass did. When we hit a ton of ground balls, they made the plays, but when they hit a ton of ground balls, we didn’t make the plays.”
By the bottom of the fourth inning, it was clear that it was the Minutewomen’s game to lose. After the first three batters reached base safely, including an RBI double, Schramm handed the ball to freshman Jayme Cone on the mound.
The change didn’t solve any problems for the Colonials. Cone allowed the deficit to reach 9–0 by the end of the inning, which included a run-scoring pass ball, a walk and a stolen base.
In the top of the fifth inning, with one last chance, GW was unable to get the ball out of the infield. Each batter was retired in order, and the game ended early because of the eight-run mercy rule.
Game two vs. Saint Louis
Very similar to the first matchup of the day, GW went down quickly in the first inning, and Saint Louis found a way to get on the scoreboard. With Costlow back on the rubber, Billikens (14-8 A-10) batters laid down two RBI bunts to take an early 2–0 lead.
Other than a bloop double for Saint Louis senior Madeline Brungardt, the second and third innings became a pitching duel between Costlow and Billikens senior Brianna Lore.
“Costlow has just done an outstanding job for us,” Schramm said. “She has been great for us all year. At first I did not know if I should start her for the second game, but it was obvious. She has just been so reliable.”
In the top of the fourth inning, the Colonials finally crossed the plate for the first time of the tournament. Freshman Riley Tejcek knocked in two runs with a ground ball double just out of the reach of the Billikens shortstop.
The Billikens finally broke through the Colonials’ defense and responded in the bottom of the fifth inning, getting two runners on by a bunt and an error. After Costlow forced the next batter to ground out, a pop fly in foul territory fell just off the tip of Gray’s glove along the first base line. With a new life, the Billikens’ batter, Lore, got the eventual game-winning hit to center field that allowed both runners to score and gave her team a 4–2 lead.
GW responded with a run to bring the game within one in the top of the sixth inning. Tejcek and sophomore Rochelle Draper hit back-to-back doubles, giving the Colonials a little bit of hope.
Saint Louis shut the hope down once and for all after a pop-up bunt turned into a double play, and Colonials leadoff hitter sophomore Alana Anderson grounded out to end the game.
“In the second game, I knew we would bounce back because we always do,” Schramm said. “We fought, but it is just a tough way to end a game.”