Nearing the halfway mark of the season, the Georgetown softball team looks to find some luck in its tournament over St. Patrick’s Day weekend in Wilmington, N.C.
The Lafayette Ford Lincoln of Fayetteville Showcase is the Hoyas’ (4-15) final chance to make an impression in tournament play before the team’s conference schedule kicks off at the end of the month.
After enduring a nine-game losing streak to start the season, the Blue and Gray bounced back with four wins in its next nine games over a span of two tournaments. In each win, the Hoyas scored five or more runs, demonstrating the importance of run support in games all decided by a narrow margin. Georgetown Head Coach Pat Conlan said she likes what she has seen from her team in recent games.
“I really don’t think our record is an indication of the kind of team we are right now. I love so many of the things that we’re doing,” Conlan said. “We’ve made great strides in our last two tournaments.”
Georgetown’s most recent win came in its first game of the Texas A&M Invite, a 7-6 extra inning comeback victory over Prairie View A&M University (3-16).
Senior catcher Gabriela Elvina led the way, going 2-4 with two RBIs. Freshman pitcher Anna Brooks Pacha got the start on the mound, giving up four hits and three earned runs with seven strikeouts in five innings pitched.
The Hoyas’ offense, which was unable to score in the game’s first six innings, came alive in the bottom of the seventh, scoring six runs to even the contest and force extra innings. Freshman pitcher Katie Vannicola came in the top of the eighth, and sophomore infielder Olivia Ross drove in freshman catcher Sera Stevens in the bottom half to give Vannicola, and the Hoyas, the win.
Elvina, sophomore leadoff hitter Mallory Belknap and freshman first baseman Noelle Holiday have been consistent sources of offense for Georgetown. Elvina is batting .295 at the plate with five doubles and eight RBIs.
Holiday powers the middle of the lineup with three home runs, seven RBIs and a slugging percentage of .500. Belknap’s hot hitting has continued, posting a .444 batting average, .476 slugging percentage and .485 on-base percentage with three stolen bases on the year.
On the rubber, Pacha and Vannicola continue to carry the team. Pacha is posting a 5.92 ERA with three complete games and 61 strikeouts while holding opponents to a batting average of .254. Vannicola has four complete games and has recorded two saves, compiling 25 total strikeouts.
Coach Conlan said there is a clear difference between the games the Hoyas lose and the ones they win.
“We’ve put complete games together in our wins. Good pitching efforts, solid defense, and good quality at bats,” Conlan said. “When you can get the trifecta there, you have a pretty good chance to win ballgames.”
The offensive element of the game continues to be an issue for this young Hoyas squad, especially in its closer defeats. Three of the team’s recent losses have come in the form of one-run games. The Blue and Gray are 0-10 when scoring less than three runs, and 1-12 when giving up the first run in the ballgame. In its 7-6 loss to The University of Texas at San Antonio Roadrunners (9-15), the Hoyas fell behind by four in the first and left a total of six runners on base during the game.
“We’ve had opportunities in many games with our top two hitters on and not been able to bring across runs,” Conlan said. “We’re leaving a lot of people on base. We’re doing a pretty good job of getting people on base, but we’ve got to come through in the clutch a little more and start driving in those runs.”
The Hoyas are 4-7 in games decided by two or less runs. As evidenced by the game against UTSA, being able to drive in that extra run can be the difference between a win and a loss for Georgetown.
“That’s a play here and there, a hit here and there, and all of a sudden we’re in a very different situation as far as our record goes,” Conlan said.
Georgetown begins its final tune-up before Big East play on Friday, with a 10 a.m. matchup against the St. Bonaventure Bonnies (6-12), followed by a 5:30 p.m. game against the UMass-Lowell River Hawks (5-8).
After the tournament, Georgetown will open its conference schedule with a three-game series at home against Creighton (6-13) starting on March 25.
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