It’s not often that one hears the coach of a team leaving an invitational with five straight losses say it was a successful showing — but that’s exactly how Head Coach Pat Conlan described Georgetown softball’s (5-16) performance in Arizona last weekend at the Arizona State Louisville Slugger Invitational.
“It was [tough], but it really was a great weekend. It was some of our best ball that we’ve played this year against some of the best teams in the country, so I was very, very pleased,” Conlan said. “It was one tough set of games, but overall I think our kids competed very well, and we’re proud of the progress we made.”
As the Hoyas travel to compete in the George Mason Cherry Blossom Classic this weekend in Fairfax, Va., the team will focus on keeping the same resilient mentality and work ethic they have carried with them so far this year.
“I just think we need to believe in our abilities. After the way we competed this past weekend, if we take that same attitude and that same mindset and we bring it to anybody else we’re playing for the rest of the season, whether it’s non-conference or within the Big East, we should be able to hold our own against anyone,” Conlan said.
Junior catcher Gabriela Elvina added that the team has some tuning up to do before the weekend.
“We faced four top-20 teams, which was definitely the best competition we’ve had all year, but we hung with them and we were beating them at some points. We just need to clean up the little things so we’ll be ready for this weekend,” Elvina said.
In preparation for this upcoming weekend, when Georgetown will face Canisius (4-16) twice, Cornell (0-8), St. Francis (12-12) and George Mason (8-9), Conlan said her main concern is keeping her team concentrated only on the task at hand.
“We like to approach one game at a time,” Conlan said. “We’re not trying to look too far ahead. We’re trying to learn from the past and take it one pitch, one game at a time.”
In terms of the strategy the team will employ in its next set of games, the goal will be staying true to playing Georgetown softball and focusing on themselves as opposed to the Hoyas’ opponents.
“I think if we can always give strong pitching efforts, good quality at-bats, and tighten up on defense, then we can play with anybody in the country, and I think that’s what we proved last week. … We’re really working hard to figure out who we are and how we’re going to play that way game in and game out,” Conlan said.
Conlan praised the team’s seniors — third baseman Taylor Henry, infielder Grace Appelbe, and pitcher/middle infielder Samantha Giovanniello — for their impressive ability to lead the team as it progresses in its 2016 campaign.
“Our three kids have shown tremendous leadership, both on and off the field. Sam in particular has really taken the team on her shoulders with the pitching aspect and leading our team offensively. They’re a great group of girls who have been great leaders for us and great role models for the rest of the team,” Conlan said.
Elvina echoed Conlan’s praises, noting how integral the trio is in supporting the team in a variety of positions.
“All three of the seniors have been playing since their freshman year. They have been impact players since then and continue to be now. As a junior, I have definitely looked to them these past three years. [Giovanniello] is doing amazing on the mound, especially with it being her first year. She continues to surprise us every day. Grace and Taylor are leaders for us in the infield. Without them, I don’t know where our team would be,” Elvina said.
Conlan emphasized how important it is for the Hoyas to be confident in their skills and ability to compete in this weekend’s opening game against Canisius.
“I think the key for us this week is to make sure we bring the same intensity we had against nationally ranked programs to everybody else, and play that level of ball and not just compete against the name on somebody’s jersey,” Conlan said. “We need to play our brand of softball, and I think we did that very well in Arizona, so we’re looking to carry that over into the next few weekends — that’s for sure.”
Georgetown’s first game against Canisius will take place today at 4:45 p.m. in Fairfax, Va. The remainder of the games against Cornell, Saint Francis and George Mason will take place on Saturday and Sunday, also in Fairfax.
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