Last season, senior pitchers threw 78.3 percent of the innings for the Georgetown softball team. This season, the Hoyas (1-7) have shown their inexperience in the circle. This weekend, they struggled to prevent runs at the Dolphin Invitational in Jacksonville, Fla., allowing 63 runs in five losses.
“We’ve got a lot to work on,” Head Coach Pat Conlan said. “That’s the great thing about this time of the year. The one thing that we’re trying to focus on is just making sure every aspect of our game is consistent: the offense, the defense and the pitching. And it hasn’t been.”
Senior pitcher and second baseman Samantha Giovanniello played a key role for the Hoyas on both sides of the ball, starting games in both of her positions while hitting in the third spot in the lineup. On offense, Giovanniello leads the team with four home runs and 11 RBIs. In addition, the senior has taken on a new role as a pitcher this season.
After two of Georgetown’s top pitchers — Megan Hyson and Lauren O’Leary —graduated last spring, there was a clear void in the team’s pitching rotation. Giovanniello, who pitched in high school and travel softball, agreed to take on the additional role in the circle for her final season even though she had never pitched in a collegiate game in her previous three seasons.
“She’s somebody who is being a great teammate and helping us where we need it,” Conlan said. “We’re just trying to give her that college experience. In other aspects of her game, she’s a senior, and in pitching, she’s essentially in her first year, so it’s an interesting balance that we’re trying to work through right now.”
Nevertheless, Giovanniello, along with sophomore pitcher Avery Geehr and junior pitcher Delaney Osterday make up an inexperienced pitching staff. The lack of continuity among Georgetown’s pitching showed this weekend as the Hoyas were largely unable to keep their opponents off the scoreboard.
“Certainly anytime you lose two kids who started for four years, you know there’s going to be kind of a learning curve, so we’re going through that right now,” Conlan said. “I feel like we’re getting better and better every time we step on the field as far as the pitching goes, so [there is] definitely progress.”
On Friday, the Hoyas played two games, losing to the Penn State Nittany Lions (5-5) in the morning 9-4 before falling to the Pittsburgh Panthers (6-4) with a score of 21-6. Against Penn State, freshman first baseman Sarah Bennett, who was functioning as Georgetown’s designated player, had two hits and drove in three runs while Giovanniello added two more hits and one RBI. In the afternoon game against Pittsburgh, Giovanniello and Bennett each hit home runs, but it was not enough to overcome a shaky performance on the mound, as Georgetown pitchers allowed 16 hits and 12 walks.
Bennett, freshman shortstop Olivia Russ and freshman right fielder Mallory Belknap have immediately assumed starting roles as they begin their careers. The freshman class has impressed its older teammates thus far.
“They bring a lot to the table,” senior first baseman Grace Appelbe said. “A lot of power at the plate and great defense, and they’re just really great additions to this program.”
On Saturday, the Hoyas lost to the Panthers again, this time by a score of 14-3, before falling to the Radford Highlanders (3-1) in the afternoon, 10-6. Giovanniello hit a home run against Pittsburgh for the second straight day, but the Pittsburgh offense was once again too much for Georgetown to handle. The Hoyas jumped out to a 6-3 lead against the Highlanders, but could not hold on to the lead. Senior third baseman Taylor Henry drove in three runs in the loss. Georgetown concluded the tournament with a defeat to Jacksonville (6-5) by a score of 9-1.
“Practicing against hard teams in preseason and playing against them and competing against them really sets us up for the Big East,” Appelbe said. “It challenges us and lets us know what we can work on in order to be prepared and ready to win in the Big East.”
Georgetown looks to establish more consistency as it moves closer to its Big East conference schedule.
“We have a group that works hard, that has incredible desire, and now we have to take care of the softball skill side of it, and put it all together and run out there and be the team that I know we’re capable of being,” Conlan said.
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