A one-run difference in Thursday night’s contest against Dayton eliminated Softball from the Atlantic 10 tournament and effectively ended its season.
After a solo home run helped the Colonials (33-21) win their first matchup of the tournament against the No. 3 seed Flyers 2–1 Wednesday, they returned to Bronx, N.Y. and dropped consecutive games the following afternoon.
GW was shut out by No. 2 seed Fordham 8–0 in five innings before losing 4–3 to No. 3 seed Dayton in an elimination game.
“We did what we could,” junior shortstop Marta Fuentes said. “We went out and left no regret on the field.”
The team’s league-leading offense plated just five runs on 19 hits over the three games – led by Fuentes, who connected for six hits from the leadoff spot.
“With this young team and most of them in their first time at the tournament, I’m sure nerves had something to do with it,” head coach James DeFeo said. “I think a lot of what happened at the plate was just more being a little bit too anxious more than anything.”
Freshman utility player Sierra Lange led the Colonials in the circle, earning a complete-game win Wednesday and throwing 10 strikeouts in 13 innings on the mound.
GW’s tournament run closes out a record-breaking season for the Colonials under the second-year leadership of DeFeo. No previous squad had won more than 28 games in program history.
The Colonials earned their first win of the weekend after their strong pitching kept Dayton off the scoreboard.
Lange held the Flyers to one run on seven hits through seven innings of work, including sitting down the side in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings.
“We just really knew that they were going to come out swinging,” Fuentes said. “Sierra was the one pitching and she was doing a heck of a job, so we knew that defensively we just needed to stay with her.”
But GW’s bats remained quiet for multiple innings, connecting for seven total hits. The Colonials’ only runs came off of solo homers.
Dayton grabbed an early 1-0 in the bottom of the first inning and held it until the top of the fourth inning, when sophomore infielder Elena Shelepak launched the ball over the fence for her 10th home run of the year to knot the game up.
A difficult defensive play by the Flyers kept the game tied when a line drive by sophomore utility player Jenna Cone was fielded at second base and whipped to first to narrowly beat Cone to the bag and end the fifth inning.
A go-ahead home run from sophomore pinch hitter Faith Weber in the top of the seventh inning gave GW its first and only lead to capture the victory.
“It’s crazy and we’re just so happy that she did that,” Fuentes said. “We knew that she would come in and step up when we needed her to.”
It took just five innings for Fordham to score eight unanswered runs on GW and send the Colonials to the elimination side of the bracket.
Rams sophomore pitcher Madie Aughinbaugh tossed five scoreless innings en route to a win in the two sides’ first meeting of the season.
GW allowed four runs to cross the plate in the bottom of the third inning and four more on a grand slam in the fourth.
“We knew that they would hit, they’re a good hitting team,” Fuentes said. “But we just knew that we just had to fight and just keep going through.”
After going 0-for-4 in Wednesday’s game, Cone – who led starters with a .467 on-base percentage on the year – tallied two hits in three at-bats against the Rams. She picked up GW’s first hit of the contest with a single to center in the first inning.
The Colonials’ first scoring opportunity came in the top of the third when an error by Fordham resulted in Cone reaching first and freshman outfielder Sidney Bloomfield – who doubled down the right field line to get on base – reaching third. In the next at-bat, a line drive by sophomore catcher Priscilla Martinez down the right field line was called foul, keeping the Colonials scoreless. She later grounded out to end the inning scoreless.
“I think if we would have had one or two calls go our way earlier in the game that didn’t go our way, I think it would have been a completely different game,” DeFeo said.
Fordham picked up an early 1-0 lead when Aughinbaugh tallied a single and then stole two bases to get herself into scoring position. A double sent her across home plate.
A double and a following two-run homer from Fordham junior outfielder Chelsea Skrepenak extended the Rams’ lead to 4–0 as they continued to have success against Lange – who was starting for her second consecutive outing.
Sophomore Kaitlin Buff took over the pitching duties for Lange in the fourth, but a successful bunt loaded the bases. Pinch hitter Jordy Storm then hit a grand slam to double Fordham’s lead.
The Colonials failed to avoid the run-rule loss after picking up only one hit in the fifth.
In GW’s final game of the conference tournament, Dayton earned a rematch win with a late-game run in a low-scoring contest.
The Colonials trailed the Flyers 3-0 heading into the sixth inning before picking up three runs to knot the score. But a clutch score by the Flyers in the bottom of the sixth inning ended GW’s title hopes.
Senior pitcher Sarah Costlow – the contest’s starter – and Lange split time, each pitching three innings and giving up two runs apiece.
After three scoreless innings, the Flyers pulled ahead in the top of the fourth. With no outs and two runners on base, Dayton sophomore infielder Ellie Ziegler launched the ball deep into center field to pick up two runs batted in on a double.
Zeigler advanced to third base off of a wild pitch, and a single sent her home – giving Dayton a 3-0 lead.
The Colonials found their offensive rhythm in the top of the sixth inning. With two outs, senior outfielder Morgan Rinehart smacked the ball into right field to send Cone over home plate and put GW on the scoreboard for the first time in 11 innings.
Continuing the momentum, a hit from senior infielder Rochelle Draper was bobbled, allowing her to reach first and scoring two runs to tie the game 3–3.
“We were getting our bats on the ball, we were getting the hits,” Fuentes said. “We just needed to tie everything together.”
Fordham’s sixth-inning run and two quick outs put the weight on the shoulders of Cone to keep GW’s season alive in the seventh inning. Her deep hit into left field was caught at the wall to end the game.
“This tournament was a very good experience since we have a ton of underclassmen on the team,” DeFeo said. “Getting that experience in the tournament and getting the atmosphere under their belts, I think it’s going to allow this team to grow.”