Despite winning four of its past five games, softball has struggled to play well consistently.
Both the pitching staff and hitters have shown capability of pulling out wins, but head coach James DeFeo said executing both of them at the same time has failed to happen in multiple recent games. Last week, the Colonials (26-14, 6-6 A-10) were in the middle of a six-game losing streak caused by faulty pitching, hitting and fielding, he said.
“I’d like to have a little bit more comfortable games when we’re just playing consistently in all three phases,” DeFeo said.
When preparing for games, he said he aims for at least two of the three phases of the game to be functioning well in an outing. Despite recent successes in specific areas, the Colonials have failed to finish contests with well-rounded play throughout.
The team – which is two victories away from tying the program-best record in a single season – has been mostly successful from inside the batter’s box this season, owning a conference-high .328 batting average.
In their first game against La Salle last weekend, the Colonials tallied 15 hits for 12 runs to lead 10-1 at the end of the second inning – good for their 19th double-digit hitting game of the year.
While the hitting was strong and the team pulled out a 12–10 victory, GW struggled from the pitching circle. Four different Colonials – including freshman utility player Sierra Lange – took to the mound and allowed nine runs across three innings.
“That’s kind of been the trend here,” Lange said. “We’re either really good at one thing and really struggling with another.”
The Colonials’ pitching staff kept the team alive through nine innings of the back end of Saturday’s doubleheader, while the team’s offense struggled at the plate, collecting just four runs on 11 hits.
Senior pitcher Sarah Costlow held the Explorers scoreless over five innings after giving up two runs in the first inning. Lange pitched two scoreless innings in relief to help the Colonials to a 4-3 win in extra innings.
GW’s early play on both sides of the ball has helped the Colonials set a tone and pick up momentum in opening innings.
The Colonials hold a 13-0 record when leading through the first inning and a 22-1 record when they lead after the fourth. But when the start of a game does not go as well, they are just 3-7 when trailing through the first inning and hold a 3-11 record when losing after the fourth.
“To get a lead we have to first play tough on defense and start strong in the circle, and nine times out of 10 our offense comes around,” DeFeo said. “But when that doesn’t happen, then I know we have enough offense to come back and make a rally if we have to.”
Offensively, GW’s success has been driven by sophomore utility player Jenna Cone, who reached base in a career-high 24 straight games.
She owns a .416 batting average – good for second in the Atlantic 10. She has tallied 10 home runs this season, including two home runs in GW’s first game last weekend.
As a team, eight Colonials are batting above .340. The team holds a .328 batting average overall, driving the team’s offensive standing.
“It’s always good to have solid at-bats, one through nine and all the way up and down the lineup,” DeFeo said. “Especially when we have that power advantage.”
Despite powerful offensive performances, the Colonials have been streaky on the mound in conference play. Heading into the second game of their La Salle series, the Colonials allowed opponents to bat .313.
In their final outing against La Salle Sunday, the Colonials gave up 10 hits and 10 runs after holding the Explorers to 13 hits across two games. A three-run seventh inning rally by GW was not enough for the Colonials, and they dropped their final game 10-8.
As GW approaches the rest of the season, DeFeo said his team will keep its foot on the pedal offensively, relying on the offense to rally for a win if the defense is inconsistent.
“These kids have a will to win,” De Feo said. “And when we take care of things offensively, defensively, and in the circle, good things happen.”