Softball opened its home schedule with two statement wins, shutting out crosstown rival Howard in a Wednesday afternoon doubleheader at the Mount Vernon field.
The Colonials (9-3) entered the day with a 7-3 record, equaling the program’s best record through 10 games set by the 2006 team. They went four-for-five at UC-Riverside’s Amy S. Harrison Classic last weekend, with the hosting Highlanders handing them their only loss.
The visiting Bison (2-12) entered the afternoon on a four-game losing streak and were outpaced by the Colonials in all areas of play. Paired with clean defensive game, GW’s hot bats carried them to a decisive 8-0 win in the first contest and 16-0 in the second.
“I think this team is really solid at focusing on what needs to be done,” head coach James DeFeo said. “We’ve played a lot of different games, against a lot of different teams, and have had some adversity, but this team always finds a way to win.”
In the two contests combined, the Colonials tallied 21 more hits and five more strikeouts than Howard.
During the second game of the afternoon, Howard didn’t record any hits during the five innings of the shortened game’s action – for the fourth no-hitter in GW history.
Freshman utility player Sierra Lange started the afternoon in the circle for the Colonials. She held Howard to two hits through 4.0 innings pitched.
Both teams got off to slow starts, going scoreless through the first inning and a half. Lange said the key to holding off Howard was simply sticking with the team’s game plan.
“Just throwing strikes and letting defense work was the main thing,” Lange said. “And not worrying about trying to trick them or anything, just letting the get themselves out.”
GW’s offensive game picked up in the bottom of the second, when sophomore catcher Priscilla Martinez opened the scoring with her second home run of the season. The home squad never trailed after that and scored in all but one of the remaining innings.
The Colonials suffered a few defensive lapses in the top of the third, allowing Howard redshirt freshman outfielder Zaria Hall to steal second base and reach third on an error by Martinez. But Lange finished out her afternoon in the circle with a strikeout to keep Howard scoreless.
“I think we did pretty good defensively and that’s what stuck out to me,” junior shortstop Marta Fuentes said. “Howard put the ball in play a lot but we also made the plays.”
Bouncing back in the bottom of the third, the Colonials offense had their most productive frame of the game. Senior center fielder Morgan Rinehart tripled to center field to bat in sophomore first baseman Jenna Linquist. Fuentes doubled to bat in Rinehart and recorded her second stolen base of the game before scoring on a wild pitch.
Sophomore Faith Weber entered the game in for relief for Lange in the top of the fifth, helping the Colonials keep Howard scoreless through her 2.0 innings pitched. Weber threw a 1-2-3 inning in the top of the sixth.
A fielding error by Howard in the bottom of the sixth allowed the Colonials to extend their lead to 8-0, with Rinehart scoring on an unearned run to invoke the mercy rule.
DeFeo said the first game was won mostly in the circle.
“We were kind of scattered here and there, but we still had good pitching,” he said. “We had a little mental lapse on defense and a few throw-away at bats but everybody made adjustments.’
Energized by the first win of the day, the Colonials continued their dominance less than an hour later in the second matchup. Fuentes said they were looking to carry the momentum from the first game into the second without getting complacent.
After a scoreless first inning, GW jumped on the Howard defense in the bottom of the second with 12 runs on 12 hits. The Colonials recorded four stolen bases in the frame, with Fuentes and junior center fielder Criza Bulanadi nabbing two apiece.
Lange, who shifted to third base for the second game, said their mental focus allowed the sizable run output in game two.
“We were definitely more focused on our at bats,” she said. “We hit the good pitches, let the bad pitches go by, and we took the count deep.”
GW maintained its 12-0 lead through the third thanks to a tight defensive game. After two Howard players walked with one out, a double play from senior second basemen Rochelle Draper to sophomore first baseman Elena Shelepak closed out the side.
Howard’s defense continued to unravel in the bottom of the fourth, allowing four runs on two hits and three errors. Freshman designated hitter Alessandra Ponce recorded a two-run single to help extend the Colonials’ lead to 16-0.
The Colonials completed the sweep after holding Howard scoreless in the top of the fifth, invoking the mercy rule for the second time in the afternoon.
The Colonials return to action in Columbia, S.C. next weekend to play in the South Carolina Classic.