Softball | Hoyas Seek First Victory at East Madeira Invite

After faltering in its first few matchups, the Georgetown softball team looks to gain some momentum as its season kicks into full gear with a trip to Florida for the East Madeira Invite this weekend.

The Hoyas (0-9) are looking to this upcoming tournament to cure some of the early woes that have plagued the team. Despite a shaky start, Head Coach Pat Conlan said she sees plenty of positives in the team’s play.

“Our record is probably the least positive [aspect], but overall we’ve had some really good takeaways,” Conlan said. “The key for us right now is learning how to win those really close games, learning how to drive the runners we’re getting on base in, to cut down on some walks.”

A lack of run support for the pitching staff has been an issue in recent games, with the Hoyas only scoring seven total runs in its last three games and none in the USC Upstate Classic. This issue was on full display in Georgetown’s tournament game against Towson (4-5), which the Hoyas dropped 2-1.

In the loss, freshman pitcher Anna Brooks Pacha threw a complete game, giving up three hits and two earned runs, while striking out six batters. However, Georgetown left five players on base and scored one run the entire game off a solo home run from freshman outfielder Alexa Dolby.

“We’ve left a lot of people on base,” Conlan said. “We’ve had opportunities to win ballgames but haven’t been able to drive in the runs.”

Pacha’s performance in the contest displayed the potential of Georgetown’s young pitching staff. Conlan’s pitching rotation consists solely of three freshmen, with Pacha and Katie Vannicola alternating as the starter and Casey Kozak coming in for relief. Pacha has posted the best ERA at 5.40 and has thrown two complete games and recorded 31 strikeouts. She is also holding opponents to a batting average of .244 this season.

“They’re doing a great job. We’ve got three freshmen who are really taking care of business for us, and they’re adapting to the college game well,” Conlan said.

Senior catcher Gabriela Elvina and sophomore leadoff hitter and second baseman Mallory Belknap power the Hoyas’ offensive effort.

Elvina is batting an even .300 with three doubles, seven runs scored and an on-base percentage of .481, significantly better than her career high from last season. She also boasts a .962 fielding percentage from behind the plate, giving Georgetown much- needed stability.

Belknap has been a standout at second base. Starting all nine games, the sophomore’s batting average is .433, in addition to a .467 slugging percentage and two stolen bases on four attempts.

“She’s doing a great job in the leadoff position for us. She’s setting the tone,” Conlan said of Belknap. “She has a lot of energy, plays the game hard and makes everyone around her better.”

Conlan said she views the upcoming slate of games as a learning opportunity for her young squad.

“At this point, we’re using this opportunity to get our young kids experience, to learn how to play as a team and to get ourselves prepared for the conference,” she said.

Georgetown opens its tournament schedule with a game Friday at 11 a.m. against Mid-American Conference’s Eastern Michigan (3-4), followed by a 1:30 p.m. game against Loyola (5-0) of the Missouri Valley Conference.

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