Softball pushed its season back on track this weekend, winning two of three games at the Colonial Classic powered by a trio of seniors.
The weekend series against Towson, Morgan State, Princeton and Georgetown was the first time the Colonials had a chance to play at home after a series of road games to open the season. GW will now play 15 consecutive games at home to build momentum for Atlantic 10 competition.
Head coach Shane Winkler said the squad wanted to start the season off stronger to build momentum heading into the team’s homestand.
“We wanted to win a few more games than we did on the road early on, but when you get home you want to be comfortable,” Winkler said. “You want to start building some momentum going into A-10 play but at the same time, we’re going to have to learn to win on the road.”
Senior utility Faith Weber threw two complete games for the Colonials (5-12), senior utility Jessica Linquist paced the team with a .750 batting average on the weekend and senior infielder Elena Shelepak batted in seven runs, including a walk-off homer.
The Colonials’ first home game of the campaign Friday was a tight one, as they fell 3–2 in eight innings to Towson (5-6). Linquist had a hand in both runs for GW, stealing home in the third inning after a leadoff triple and then knocking in Weber with a single in the fourth.
Weber tossed a complete game and pitched a shutout through five innings as she continues to see the lion’s share of innings in the absence of junior utility Sierra Lange.
“At the end of the day we’ve got to score more runs than the other team,” Weber said. “My job as a pitcher is just to make sure I can lock it down enough so we can do that. I’m just trying to be there wherever my team needs me, on the mound, on the field, at the plate, I’m just trying to get the job done.”
A two-RBI triple from sophomore infielder Chloe Poulich broke Weber’s shutout in the sixth inning and tied the game, sending it to extra innings after neither team scored in the seventh frame.
Extra innings were played under the International Tiebreaker Rule, which starts each additional frame with a runner on second base. A single from senior utility Julia Smith-Harrington scored freshman outfielder Briana Ramirez for the Tigers’ go-ahead run in the top of the eighth.
The Colonials could not respond in the bottom half of the inning and succumbed to their 12th loss of the season.
GW bounced back Saturday, beating Morgan State (2-10) by a score of 9–0 in five innings. Shelepak led the way with five RBI, and senior pitcher Kaitlin Buff threw a three-hit shutout to notch the Colonials’ win.
Shelepak collected three of her RBI with a single swing of the bat in the bottom of the third inning, knocking a double into right field that cleared bases.
A pair of errors from the Bears put GW up 6–0 in the fourth inning before a two-RBI single from Shelepak triggered the run-rule and ended the game. Junior outfielder Sidney Bloomfield scored the ninth and final run.
After clocking in a .305 batting average last season, Shelepak is hitting at a .211 clip this year and is looking to use this weekend’s performance as a starting point for the rest of her campaign.
“It’s just nice to have a good weekend where you can say, ‘Yes, that was where I performed best,’” Shelepak said. “So try to recreate that, the mental, the physical, whatever was going on that weekend.”
The Colonials ended their weekend with a bang in their first game of a scheduled Sunday doubleheader, walking away with a 7–5 win over Princeton (4-4) thanks to a walk-off home run from Shelepak in the bottom of the eighth inning.
An error once again gave GW an opening in the second inning, as a drop from sophomore outfielder Madison Hamilton allowed Linquist to reach third base and two runs to score. In the next at-bat, senior infielder Jenna Cone launched a home run over the left-field fence to put the Colonials up 4–0.
Princeton chipped away at the lead in the top of the fifth inning, courtesy of a single up the middle from senior infielder Allison Harvey that scored two. In the sixth inning, freshman utility Adrienne Chang recorded an RBI double before scoring herself to even the score at four runs apiece.
The game went to extra innings and the Tigers struck first with an RBI single from Chang that scored junior infielder Hannah Lutz, putting the Colonials under pressure.
Bloomfield came through with a clutch two-out single that brought Linquist home as the tying run, then up stepped Shelepak. She drove freshman pitcher Alexis Laudenslager’s delivery over the left-field wall to secure a winning weekend for the Colonials.
“She battled off some pitches and kept herself alive and then hit a hanging off-speed pitch that she took advantage of,” Winkler said. “But you don’t do that if you don’t have a tough mindset and a tough at-bat going in.”
GW was scheduled to play Georgetown in the final matchup of the weekend, but waning daylight hours postponed the game, which will be made up at a later date.
The Colonials will look to continue their momentum at the Buff and Blue Challenge next weekend, starting with a 2 p.m. showdown against Winthrop Friday.