GW Softball Set to Battle for Atlantic 10 Championship Title
No. 4 Colonials Face No. 5 Saint Louis in Opening Game on Wednesday at 10 a.m.
May 8, 2013
WASHINGTON - The George Washington softball team heads to Amherst, Mass., this week for the Atlantic 10 Championship, hosted at the University of Massachusetts' Elaine Sortino Field. The fourth-seeded Colonials will take on fifth-seeded Saint Louis in the first game on Wednesday, with the game moved up two hours to 10 a.m. due to rain in the forecast.
The A-10 Championship is a six-team, double-elimination event with the winner receiving the league's automatic bid to compete in the NCAA Tournament. The winner of the GW/Saint Louis contest will face top-seeded Saint Joseph's on Thursday at 12 p.m., while the loser will take on the loser of the game between No. 3 Temple and No. 6 Dayton on Wednesday at 3 p.m.
GW (26-21, 13-7 A-10) is making its second straight trip to the Atlantic 10 Championship after advancing to the 2012 title game. Prior to last season, the Colonials had not been to the league tournament since 2007, its first appearance in the conference championship.
GW is 3-4 all-time at the Atlantic 10 Championship after losing both contests in 2007 as the No. 6 seed, but advancing to the title game in 2012 as the No. 4 seed. The Colonials went a combined 5-5 this season against the five other teams in the tournament, losing both games to No. 1 Saint Joseph's and No. 2 Fordham, sweeping No. 5 Saint Louis and No. 6 Dayton, and splitting with No. 3 Temple.
GW's 26 wins on the year broke the previous school record of 25, which was set in 2012. In addition, the Colonials have won more Atlantic 10 games (13) than any other GW squad; the previous mark was 11 also in 2012. Moreover, at 26-21 overall (.533), the Colonials are guaranteed their first-ever winning season.
Despite dropping the final three games of the regular season, the Colonials have won 15 of their last 19 contests dating to April 6, batting .294 as a team and outscoring their opponents, 107-54, in that stretch. Senior Autumn Taylor is batting .433 (26-for-60) and slugging .867 with 13 extra-base hits and 25 RBIs in the last 19 games, while sophomore Victoria Valos is hitting .422 (27-for-64) and slugging .750 with 10 extra-base hits, 23 RBIs and 22 runs scored.
Taylor and Valos have combined for more RBIs in a season (94) and career (186) than any other pair of teammates in GW history. After each matched the program's single-season RBI record (33) in 2012, they have both surpassed the mark in 2013. Valos was the first to break it and is currently in the lead by eight with 51 RBIs to Taylor's 43. Taylor, however, owns GW's all-time record with 102 RBIs in her career, while Valos ranks third with 84. The duo also has more combined career home runs (46) than any other set of Colonial teammates, as Taylor ranks second all-time with 24 - two shy of Jackie Yaniga's all-time mark - and Valos is third with 22.
Senior Amanda Zakeri has reached base in 18 straight games since April 7, matching a school record set by freshman Carlee Gray earlier this season. Zakeri boasts a .548 on-base percentage with 25 walks and 14 steals during her streak. Taylor has reached base in 12 straight games since April 19, batting .450 (18-for-40) with nine extra-base hits and 15 RBIs during that stretch. Sophomore Samantha Dos Santos is riding a five-game hit streak - the longest active streak on the team - and has reached base in eight straight games. She is hitting .500 (7-for-14) in the last five contests.
GW's pitching tandem of junior Courtney Martin and freshman Meghan Rico have combined to post a 2.57 ERA, second-best in the A-10 and on pace to shatter the school record of 2.88, which was set in 2012. Martin ranks third in the A-10 with a 2.00 ERA and 159 strikeouts, while Rico is second in the A-10 with a .198 opposing batting average and fifth with 133 strikeouts.
Saint Louis (26-21, 13-9 A-10) has won 11 of its last 15 games entering the A-10 Championship. The Billikens are batting just .244 as a team on the season, but have begun to heat up in league play, hitting .278 against A-10 opponents. Jessica Van Nostrand is batting a team-best .324 with 11 doubles and 21 RBIs on the season. An Atlantic 10 First-Team All-Conference selection, Laura Bohning is the reigning A-10 Co-Player of the Week. She is hitting .333 with five homers and 22 RBIs in league play. Jessica Buschjost is tied for third in the A-10 with 28 stolen bases on the season as SLU leads the league with 78 steals.
The Billikens' pitching staff is paced by a pair of freshmen, who both earned Atlantic 10 All-Rookie honors after combining to post the third-best ERA (2.89) in the league. Brianna Lore is 13-14 with a 2.74 ERA and 110 strikeouts, while Laney Kneib is 13-7 with a 2.92 ERA.
GW is 7-10 all-time against SLU, but has won four of the last five meetings, including a doubleheader sweep on April 7 at GW Softball Field as the Colonials won, 3-1 and 5-2. Martin lost her shutout bid in the top of the seventh in Game 1, but allowed just one unearned run over nine innings in the two games, while Rico struck out a career-high 11 in five innings in the nightcap. The duo combined to hold the Billikens to a .222 average in two contests. SLU defeated GW, 5-4, in the 2007 A-10 Championship, the teams' only previous postseason meeting.
Taylor is hitting .474 (9-for-19) in seven career games against Saint Louis, while Valos is batting .417 (5-for-12) in four contests.