Temperatures are slowly on the rise outside, and softball season is just a week away. Colonials fans have much to look forward to on the diamond as GW is poised for another exciting campaign after making its second straight trip to the Atlantic 10 Championship a year ago.
In preparation for the new season, College Sports Madness released its preseason A-10 all-conference squads and honored a quartet of Colonials. Senior Courtney Martin was named the league's preseason Pitcher of the Year and rookie Jillian Galich was tabbed Freshman of the Year. In addition, Martin was joined on the preseason first team by sophomore pitcher Meghan Rico and junior shortstop Victoria Valos.
A 2013 Atlantic 10 All-Conference first team selection, Martin experienced a breakout junior campaign in which she went 14-13 with a 2.10 ERA and 170 strikeouts in 193.2 innings of work. Her 14 wins were the second-most in a single season in program historywhile her 170 strikeouts were third, and she enters her senior year ranking second all-time at GW in career ERA (2.82) and third in wins (16) and strikeouts (222).
Galich is a power-hitting first baseman/catcher who hit 13 home runs over her final two seasons at Lincoln-Way North in the Chicago area. A two-time All-State first-team honoree, Galich was named an NFCA All-American as a junior and was tabbed to the organization's All-Region team as a senior.
Rico went 13-10 with a 3.06 ERA and 139 strikeouts in 135.0 innings of work en route to Atlantic 10 All-Rookie team honors in 2013. She set GW's freshman record for strikeouts and matched the program's rookie mark for wins in a season. Rico tossed five shutouts on the year - including a no-hitter against Seton Hall in her collegiate debut - and set a school record by holding opponents to a .202 batting average.
After putting together one of the best rookie campaigns in GW history, Valos did not disappoint in her sophomore year, setting single-season record with 53 RBIs, 43 runs scored, 25 extra-base hits, 106 total bases and a .675 slugging percentage while matching her own program record with 11 home runs. The two-time team MVP also led the Colonials in average (.363), hits (57) and doubles (12) and ranked second in walks (21) and on-base percentage (.445). Valos enters her junior year as GW's all-time leader in career slugging percentage (.623) and ranks second in batting average (.340) and third in home runs (22), RBIs (86), runs scored (75) and on-base percentage (.407).
The Colonials open their 2014 season at the Beach Invitational hosted by Long Beach State Feb. 7-9. GW's home opener will be on Tuesday, Feb. 25, against Delaware State. Follow GW Softball all season long on Twitter at @GW_Softball.