Softball notched another series victory Tuesday, picking up two wins in a three-game homestand against George Mason this past week.
The Colonials (23-12) split a doubleheader Saturday after a postponed game Friday to open the series, winning the first game 2–1 before dropping the second to the Patriots (17-22) in a 4–3 extra-innings bout. Graduate pitcher Sierra Lange secured both wins on the mound for GW through lockdown performances that carried the Colonials through the series.
Head Coach Chrissy Schoonmaker said late-inning action and Lange’s pitching pushed GW to its pair of victories. She said Lange stifled the George Mason offense with spin on her pitches during the three-game series where she totaled 16 strikeouts across 17.2 innings.
“I thought we had great execution in the late innings of game one and thought in game two we just got out-executed a little bit,” Schoonmaker said. “We had some moments where we can continue to step up, but we were in a position to win.”
GW continues to lead the Atlantic 10 standings with a .867 winning percentage and a 13-2 record in the conference.
Lange pitched the entire first game and the last 3.2 innings of the second game, and graduate student right fielder Maddie Dwyer started the second game, pitching 4.1 innings.
The dominance from Lange started with a complete game in the 2–1 Colonials victory, where she collected her 17th win on the season and her ninth in conference matchups. She fanned seven George Mason batters, letting up one run on four hits and two walks.
The series opener was a pitcher’s duel with both teams scoreless until the bottom of the sixth when Dwyer hustled out an infield single that scored graduate left fielder Olivia Vinyard. Sophomore designated hitter Maddie Spell would add to the tally later in the inning with a sacrifice fly that brought in graduate shortstop Hannah Eslick to bring the lead to 2–0.
The Patriots would score their first and only run in the top of the seventh inning off a single from junior designated hitter Maddie Myers, but the late-inning push was too little too late to overcome the Colonial’s defense.
Despite George Mason’s quiet offensive showing, graduate pitcher Cheyenne Van Pelt kept the game close for the Patriots, keeping the Colonials to two hits and allowing four walks.
Schoonmaker said Lange effectively mixed her pitches in an “outstanding” performance that held the Patriots to one run.
“I thought she mixed pitches well, she mixed spins and she competes on the mound – she’s a competitor on the mound,” Schoonmaker said.
The Colonials’ bats started to heat up later in the day Saturday, but a George Mason game-winning home run in extra innings capped off a dramatic 4–3 loss for GW.
Junior centerfielder Darbie Stancil kicked off the Colonials’ offensive push with a double that scored Spell to put GW on the board. The Colonials would score again in the fourth inning off RBI singles from Eslick and junior catcher Valentina Perrone.
The Patriots closed GW’s lead in the fourth inning when an RBI double and an error at second base each allowed a pair of runs to score. A sacrifice fly to right field in the fifth inning knotted the score at three.
Dwyer lasted 4.1 innings in her tenth start on the mound for the Colonials, giving up two earned runs on five hits while striking out four and walking three. Lange pitched the final 3.2 innings, giving up one run on one hit while striking out three and walking none.
After heading into extra innings deadlocked at 3–3, junior utility player Haley Taormina hit a solo home run that put the Patriots on top. The Colonials could not respond at the bottom of the eighth, which marked their 12th loss of the season.
Eslick said the team could not produce in the late innings of the second game but was ready to “bounce back” to win the series.
“Obviously it sucks losing,” she said. “We’d much rather lose now than lose in the tournament, so just going to take this in, feel this feeling and know we don’t want to feel it again.”
The Colonials finished up the series with a 5–1 win over the Patriots on Tuesday, which improved GW’s A-10 record to 13–2 with three weekends left in conference play. Lange logged another standout performance, tossing her second complete game of the series and adding an RBI and a run to the box score for the Colonials.
The Colonials’ bats first came to life in a two-run first inning. Lange reached first on an infield single before stealing two bases and scoring on a sacrifice fly from sophomore utility player Alexa Williams. Graduate student utility player Alessandra Ponce followed with her fourth homer of the season, giving GW a two-run lead.
A George Mason error at the bottom of the fourth allowed Greco to hit first base, and Perrone knocked in the run on a sacrifice fly to capitalize on the defensive miscue. Junior utility player Maggie Greco hit a leadoff double to the left-field corner before scoring on a Lange sacrifice fly to extend the lead to 5–0 in the sixth inning.
The Patriots put a run on the board in the final inning of play following a pair of doubles but couldn’t muster much more against Lange’s six strikeouts and groundouts that stifled the George Mason offense for much of the game.
Lange, Williams and Ponce combined to hit 5-for-7 with three RBIs, two runs and three walks.
GW heads to Rhode Island this weekend to continue its A-10 slate. The first game is set for noon Saturday.
This article appeared in the April 21, 2022 issue of the Hatchet.