2014 GW Softball Season Outlook
Colonials Enter Campaign With High Expectations
Feb. 7, 2014
GW entered the 2013 season with higher expectations than ever before following a trip to the Atlantic 10 championship game in 2012, and after a 12-game win streak in the middle of conference play, earned a berth in the six-team tournament for the second year in a row.
Ten returning letterwinners will be joined in 2014 by eight highly regarded freshmen who share the veterans' hunger to reach new heights, and all of the newcomers are expected to make an immediate impact.
"We may not get as many big home runs, but I think we're better off as far as batting average and getting runners on base," said fourth-year Head Coach Stacey Schramm. "It's going to be a different kind of offense but it's probably going to be more consistent."
That offense, as it has for the last two seasons, will be anchored by shortstop Victoria Valos. After a record-setting rookie campaign in 2012, Valos put up even bigger numbers last year, batting .363 and setting GW single-season records for RBIs (53), runs scored (43), slugging percentage (.675) and home runs (11).
"Whenever I think Tori can't get any better, she does," said Coach Schramm. "Her stats speak for themselves, but she also provides so much leadership. She's the quarterback of the whole team."
With the graduation of four-year starting second baseman Julie Orlandi, Valos will have a new double play partner in freshman Megan Linn, a third-team all-state honoree from Southern California who has a good combination of speed and power. Schramm expects Linn to bat at the top of the order due to her ability to get on base.
"She's just so athletic; she gets to every ball and never has to dive," she said. "She takes great angles and has great fundamentals."
Sophomore Carlee Gray returns at first base after an A-10 All-Rookie season in which she hit .310 with 28 RBIs. She will be backed up by freshman Mary Wiley, a tall left-handed power hitter from New Jersey.
"Carlee is maturing a lot; you can see she's going to be a leader but she's taking it to a whole new level," Coach Schramm said. "She has a great attitude and she always works hard. But it's nice to have Mary pushing her too."
Freshman Paige Kovalsky will man the hot corner at third after three-year starter Tara Fogarty graduated. Kovalsky, who will also see significant innings in the circle, is a strong defensive third baseman from Central Florida who also has a solid bat.
"Paige is so athletic; she reads the ball well and doesn't have to be told what to do in every single situation," Coach Schramm said. "She has a strong arm and is a great presence out there."
Senior Alexandra Del Prete will anchor the outfield, shifting from left to center field to replace Autumn Taylor, who graduated as GW's all-time RBIs leader. Schramm said Del Prete is one of the strongest defensive outfielders she has ever coached in a Colonials' uniform.
Del Prete will be flanked by freshmen on either side. The speedy Marissa Mangini, a three-time all-state honoree from South Florida, will likely start in left field and bat second in the lineup with classmate Monica Macchiarulo pushing her. In right will be freshman Madi Myers-Cook, who despite her small stature at 5-foot-2, can hit for power and will likely find a home in the middle of the lineup. Rookie Bradleigh Breland, a fast slap hitter from Houston, will also see time in right field.
Myers-Cook will also see time behind the plate backing up junior incumbent Samantha Dos Santos. Dos Santos has made her mark as one of the best catch-and-throw backstops in the conference, throwing out a school-record 15 attempted base stealers last season, but Schramm says her offense has come so far in the offseason that she will likely bat cleanup this year.
Freshman Jillian Galich, the preseason A-10 Rookie of the Year by College Sports Madness, was a high school All-American from the Chicago area. She is a strong left-handed power hitter who can catch or play first base but will likely see most of her at-bats as designated player. Junior McKinley Tretler will also serve as the designated player and provide a pinch-hitting option.
Schramm said she is excited to have a true hitting coach again for the first time in two years with the addition of Karla Powell, a two-time All-Big Ten honoree at Wisconsin.
"Karla is doing an awesome job with the hitters," Coach Schramm said. "They have a good rapport and pick her brain. The hitting is going to be there this year."
Similarly, the addition of assistant coach Stephanie Call, a former standout at Florida Atlantic, has given the pitchers a new mentor.
"They've really bought into what Steph's trying to do," Schramm said.
Senior Courtney Martin experienced a breakout junior campaign in which she won 14 games and boasted a 2.10 ERA with 170 strikeouts en route to Atlantic 10 All-Conference First Team accolades, and big things are expected out of her in her final go-round, as she was tabbed the preseason A-10 Pitcher of the Year by College Sports Madness. In addition, Schramm said Martin has added a new element to her game this spring - hitting - and she will likely be in the offensive lineup whenever she is in the circle.
While Martin likes to change speeds, sophomore Meghan Rico is a power pitcher. An A-10 All-Rookie Team selection last season, Rico set GW's freshman record for strikeouts (139) and wins (13) and set the overall program record for batting average-against, holding opponents to a .202 clip.
Kovalsky provides the Colonials a third solid option on the mound. She posted a 1.98 ERA with 178 strikeouts as a high school senior.
GW faces an elite non-conference slate facing the likes of Kentucky, Long Beach State, LSU and Northwestern at early tournaments, and Schramm has no doubt her team can keep pace.
"The kids are excited," she said. "We have a poster that says `Road to Oklahoma City,' and they really think we can make it all the way. There's always going to be an underdog, the team that everyone roots for. They really believe that can be us."