SOFTBALL | Lowe Steals Spotlight in Full Season Preview
Published: Friday, February 15, 2013
Updated: Friday, February 15, 2013 00:02
For the Georgetown softball team, 2013 marks its eighth season as a Division I program and its fifth as a member of the Big East. The Hoyas are coming off an inconsistent 2012 campaign in which they finished 19-32 overall with a conference record of 3-15, good for just 12th out of 13 squads in the Big East.
The 2013 version is a mix of experience and youth, as the Blue and Gray return many contributors from last year’s squad while welcoming several freshmen looking to make an immediate impact. Expectations are high for this year’s team, despite being led by only two seniors, catcher Shikara Lowe and third baseman Jordan Hansen.
“Our goal is to earn a birth in the Big East Tournament,” Head Coach Pat Conlan said. “I believe we have the right people in place to accomplish that goal.”
Georgetown has large shoes to fill in the circle after the graduation of Mackensey Carter, who pitched over one-fourth of the team’s innings last year. Luckily for the Hoyas, returning sophomores Megan Hyson and Lauren O’Leary appear to be up to the task. O’Leary was prolific as a freshman last year, appearing in 29 games and pitching 134.1 innings with a 3.35 earned run average. Hyson, meanwhile, pitched 40 innings fewer than O’Leary with an impressive ERA of 2.53, at the same time managing to hold opponents to a mere .207 batting average.
Conlan spoke highly of the potential of both of her sophomore aces.
“I am confident that [Hyson and O’Leary] will continue progressing and lead this team from the mound,” she said.
Many of the Hoyas’ struggles in 2012 stemmed from problems at the plate. The team finished last in the Big East in terms of batting average (.217) and runs (135), and not one player on the team hit over .300. If 2013 is to be different for the Blue and Gray, the change will have to start with Lowe’s bat. The Oregon native led the team last year in batting average (.285), RBIs (23) and home runs (five).
“Shikara is our best player and team leader,” Conlan said. “I believe that one player does not make a lineup, but Shikara is key to our success.”
Besides Lowe, the team will look to Hyson, junior Alexandria Anttila and freshman Samantha Giovanniello to power the offense. Anttila hit only .165 last year but still flashed signs of her impressive power, hitting four home runs and driving in the second-most runs on the team. Hyson trailed only Lowe in both slugging and on-base percentage in 2012 and is aiming to take a step forward with a year’s experience under her belt.
Ultimately, whether or not the Hoyas can produce offensively — and, more importantly, produce in clutch situations — will be a major factor in deciding the fate of this year’s team.
“Getting the big offensive hit is something that we will continue to work on throughout the season,” Conlan said.
While offense is a bit of a question mark beyond Lowe, the Hoyas appear relatively secure on defense as they enter 2013. In the outfield, the team returns three junior stalwarts from last season: Alexandria Anttila, Taylor Koenig and Elyse Graziano, who Conlan said has “tremendous” range. In the infield, Georgetown will expect big things in particular from shortstop Giovanniello, who played all 35 innings during the Hoyas’ season-opening tournament last weekend in Florida.
Lowe, of course, will then return to her spot behind the plate, where she threw out 11 would-be base stealers last season.
Conlan repeatedly emphasized the unprecedented depth she has at her disposal this year, calling it “a great problem to have” and predicting that different players’ strengths will be called upon at different times in 2013.
All things considered, therefore, it looks to be a promising season for Georgetown softball: If other players can step up to help Lowe generate offense, and the pitching of O’Leary and Hyson improves slightly or even holds steady from last year, the Blue and Gray’s first Big East tournament berth could be within reach.