Softball is evening out an imbalanced pitching staff with 19 games left in GW’s regular season.
Sophomore utility Sierra Lange has consistently led the Colonials (25–11, 3–3 A-10) from the pitcher’s circle, occupying the position for 104 more innings than the next thrower. With Lange leading the pack, the Colonials have been looking for the rest of the team’s pitching staff to step up and chip in time on the mound as GW moves through conference play.
“We want everybody to get in some innings,” pitching coach Kiana Quolas said. “I know we have Sierra, but we also need a full staff behind her to get the job done.”
While GW has used six different players on the mound this season, none come close to Lange’s workload.
In her freshman campaign, Lange pitched 138.1 frames through 29 appearances in the circle – the most of any player. A year later in 26 appearances, she has already thrown 137.2 innings, holding opponents to a team-leading .230 batting average and a 2.64 earned-run average, the second-lowest mark on the team. Lange also allows an average of 1.20 walks and hits per inning pitched, a team best.
“I’m not really thinking about how many games I’m pitching,” Lange said after a 4–2 loss to Fordham March 24. “I just think about getting the job done.”
Of her 20 starts, Lange has totaled 16 complete games including three in the Colonials’ last six outings. No other Colonial has spent more than one complete game on the mound. Lange also tops the team with three saves on the year.
Quolas said each pitcher brings a unique skillset to the circle, with some players preferring to toss quick throws while others rely on off-speed, movement throws like drop balls or change-ups. But Lange has “the complete package” as a pitcher, she said.
“All of them complement each other,” Quolas said. “With different coming up, coming away, change of speed, they’re all complementing each other, which I believe we need as a staff.”
Earlier this season, head coach Shane Winkler said he planned on rotating as many pitchers through games as possible to keep opponents on their toes at the plate.
Of the five other pitchers available, the Colonials’ next-best option in the circle has been junior utility Faith Weber. Weber has emerged as a starting option for GW, earning starts against Morgan State, Fordham and Georgetown in contests earlier this month.
After completing 21 innings with a 5.67 ERA last year, Weber leads the team this season with a 2.50 ERA through eight starts.
“I just want to do my part and be there for my team and get the pitches we need so they can make plays behind me,” Weber said. “So far they’ve done an amazing job behind me in the circle and I can’t ask for more.”
Even as the second option for GW, Weber has thrown 33.2 innings this year and is on pace for 55.3 on the year. Lange is projected for 207.0, which would break the single-season program record of 204.0 set by Kara Clauss in 2012.
Senior pitcher Jayme Cone said the rest of the pitching staff has a lot of “potential,” and the next step for the Colonials will be to get consistent outings from throwers behind Lange.
“As far as in supporting her, the rest of the staff is just doing our best to complement her as much as possible,” Cone said. “If we can make her workload lighter, we’re more than absolutely willing to do that.”
The Colonials have seen action from a handful of contributors but none have become consistent starting options for GW yet. Cone has bounced back with a 3.56 ERA through 19.2 innings of work after missing the entire 2018 season due to injury.
Junior pitcher Kaitlin Buff and freshman pitcher Megan Osterhaus have also made appearances in the circle but struggled to keep runs off the board, with each pitcher turning in ERAs of 5.02 and 8.40, respectively.
“We need every arm,” Quolas said. “We need all six of them to get in there and win, whatever it takes.”
This article appeared in the April 1, 2019 issue of the Hatchet.