Junior utility player sees record-setting return from injury

Media Credit: Graeme Sloan | Contributing Photo Editor

Junior utility Jessica Linquist is the first at bat during Wednesday's game against George Mason.

Junior utility player Jessica Linquist’s 28-game hitting streak cemented her in a tie for the 17th longest hitting streak in Division I softball history.

Linquist’s sophomore season was cut short by an ACL injury, but she bounced back in her junior campaign and took down the former GW hitting record of 15 games held by junior utility player Jenna Cone in 2018. Her offensive prowess has helped propel the Colonials to a 32-14 record, two wins away from eclipsing a program-best 33 wins on the season.

In the third inning of a 4–3 win over UNC Greensboro on March 3, Linquist stroked a double into the gap of left-center field. Since that hit, she recorded a hit in every game afterward until she came up empty against Massachusetts on Saturday.

During the 42-day span, Linquist tallied seven multi-hit games and collected 23 runs batted in, reaching base at a .509 clip. The squad captured 20 wins during Linquist’s 28-game streak.

“I don’t do anything crazy at-bat or game-to-game, I always look for the pitch I want,” Linquist said after a doubleheader against George Mason Wednesday. “If I see it early, I go for it rather than overthinking it or trying to adjust to what the pitcher is throwing.”

Linquist’s focus at the plate made her unaware of her record-breaking streak until it was almost over.

“I didn’t know until like 25 games or something,” Linquist said. “I don’t normally like to check my stats either, that’s a superstition anyway, but there are bigger things, so I wasn’t super worried about it.”

A member of the Atlantic 10 All-Rookie Team as an outfielder during her freshman year, Linquist saw action at first base, behind the plate and in the outfield during her sophomore campaign but suffered an injury that cut her season short after 29 games.

This season, she has started all 46 games for the Colonials with almost all of them behind the plate and is a leading force behind the squad’s offense.

“She has been one of our most valuable players,” head coach Shane Winkler said. “I’m sure she is getting a little fatigued during the season right now because she has caught a majority of our games and that wears on you, especially offensively. But she has stuck through it. She’s a tough kid.”

Linquist’s presence at the top of the lineup has been crucial for GW’s offense. Her .489 on-base percentage leads all players with a minimum of 60 at-bats on both her team and in the A-10.

Beyond her hitting streak, Linquist has reached base in 38-straight games, a streak that ended during the weekend series against Massachusetts. Her 38-game streak broke the 5-year-old reached-base streak of 30 games to ink Linquist’s name in the record books.

“She has been one of our top two power threats in the lineup, but she’s on base all the time,” Winkler said. “With the kids that we have behind her, that’s huge.”

As the leadoff batter, getting on base is Linquist’s primary responsibility. Putting runners on the base path for Cone to clean up has been the primary move for GW’s productive offense this year. Cone recently shattered the program record for career RBI, benefitting from consistently having Linquist on base ahead of her.

“It’s always nice to get a good start off to a game, and if not, our lineup is super hard to get into to begin with,” sophomore outfielder Sidney Bloomfield said. “You see coach always putting other people into the lineup, having Jess at the top consistent always is really key.”

Linquist has crossed home plate 46 times this season – a mark that pushes her to the top of the A-10 in runs. Teammates sophomore utility Sierra Lange and Cone, who bat directly after Linquist, are second and third in runs scored in the conference, respectively, highlighting depth in the Colonials’ lineup.

“It’s great knowing that we have so many people that are ready to enter that lineup that can do damage,” Linquist said. “We always joke and say, ‘You can’t walk one of us to get to the next,’ because every single person, one through nine, can do some serious damage on our team.”

GW is back in action for a doubleheader against St. Bonaventure on the road Thursday. First pitch is at 2 p.m.

Agam Mittal contributed reporting.

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