Softball continues A-10 dominance with pounding of Dayton

Softball nabbed four Atlantic 10 wins in a series sweep over Dayton Saturday and Sunday.

The Colonials (20-7, 12-0 A-10) plated a total of 18 runs in four games while conceding just four runs to the Flyers (11-21, 6-6 A-10). The squad remains atop the central pod’s standings with just five series to go in conference play.

The Colonials opened the series Saturday with a doubleheader. GW shut out the Flyers 2–0 in the first game before following it up with a closer 3–2 victory later in the afternoon. The team sent the Flyers packing Sunday with a 9–1 rout to begin the day and a 4–1 finish in the afternoon.

Senior utility player Alessandra Ponce led the leaderboard for the Colonials, raking in six runs over the weekend. She notched a .364 batting average over the four-game stretch, sending two bombs out of the park and recording her first triple of the year.

“Overall it was a great weekend, like I said, with really great defense and really great pitching – it’s just a phenomenal job,” Ponce said. “It made it easy as hitters to come in and want to produce runs for them, since we had such a great energy about it the whole weekend.”

Game one
The Colonials beat the Flyers in a 2–0 victory after Ponce smashed a two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth inning.

“We do a lot of preparation throughout the week for opposing pitchers and she went up and executed,” head coach Shane Winkler said. “And when she does that and swings the pitches that she can handle, she can hit the ball out of the park from foul pole to foul pole, and she was huge for us all weekend long.”

The Colonials held a .286 batting average, connecting for six hits. In the opposite dugout, the Flyers batted at a .091 average, landing just two hits the entire game.

Redshirt junior pitcher Sierra Lange pitched a full game, notching four strikeouts to capture her 10th win this season. Graduate student Jenna Conne took two hits and a walk in three trips to the plate.

Freshman pitcher Alexa Williams and senior infielder Hanna Eslick both recorded doubles in the victory. Graduate student utility player Jessica Linquist also matched her season-high with two hits in the game to prolong a five-game hit streak in conference play.

“We’re playing really well,” Winkler said. “As long as we don’t try to do too much and we stay composed and play with a ton of confidence, we feel like we can dictate the outcome of every game.”

Game two
The Colonials overcame the Flyers yet again in a 3–2 showing.

Ponce rose to the occasion once more, blasting a two-run triple in the first and completing her trip around the bases later in the inning to play a role in all three of GW’s runs.

GW held a .227 batting average and tabbed five hits. Graduate student utility player Faith Weber turned in a solid start, earning just two runs, to nab her seventh win of the season. Lange took over pitching duties in the final two innings, ending the game on a strikeout to earn her first save of the season.

The Flyers swung at a .240 clip with six hits, tallying runs in the fourth and fifth inning, but they couldn’t catch the Colonials.

“We know as long as we have a mental approach and we stick to it, our talent will just take over after that,” Winkler said. “We don’t have to overthink, so our girls are really bought into the preparation phase, and it’s really worked out for us.”

Game three
The Colonials steamrolled the Flyers 9–1 to set the tone in game one of the Sunday doubleheader and force a run-rule finish in just five innings.

Despite a first inning home run by Dayton senior catcher Abby Ehrenborg, Lange replied with a bomb of her own in the bottom of the inning to trigger the Colonial onslaught.

GW loaded the bases in the bottom of the second, and Linquist was hit by the pitch, bringing in one run. Cone singled to center field, recording two more RBI to give GW the three-run advantage.

Ponce knocked a homer in the third and a double from Weber followed to extend the lead 6–1. In the following inning, Ponce grounded out but drove in a run for a six-run GW lead.

Linquist punctuated the effort with a two RBI double in the bottom of the fifth to trigger the run-rule. The Colonials batted at a .417 average with 10 total hits. Lange allowed seven hits but delivered five strikeouts in five innings.

“This weekend was so big for us because we’ve been winning pretty handedly in conference over the first two weekends,” Winkler said. “We didn’t have many close games and we’ve shown that we can win with not just a ton of offense, our pitching and defense was outstanding.”

Game four
The Colonials completed the series sweep, shutting out the Flyers in a 4–1 win to earn their 12th consecutive conference victory.

The Flyers went up early after a one-run home run in the second inning. But Williams smashed her fourth homer of the season to usher two more Colonials across the plate. Williams also recorded a triple in the fifth inning to stretch her hitting streak to 12 straight games.

Weber closed out the game with four shutout innings and three strikeouts. Dayton runners advanced to third and second with zero outs in the seventh inning, but Weber worked around the jam to force two pop-ups and a fly-out.

Winkler said the team’s streak of success has as much to do with their defense as their offense. The Colonials boast a .983 fielding percentage on the season, good for fifth in the nation.

“We get a fair share of strikeouts but normally teams put balls in play,” Winkler said. “And when they put the ball in play, obviously there’s more opportunities to make mistakes. We just haven’t made those mistakes. We haven’t beaten ourselves, which is huge.”

The Colonials will be back in action Saturday for a doubleheader with Saint Joseph’s. First pitch is slated for 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., respectively.

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