Softball Savoring Competitive Fall

Sept. 28, 2017

Off the bat, Morgan Rinehart saw a sure hit.

The GW center fielder has a good feel for such plays. She's spent three-plus years tracking fly balls at GW Softball Field. By now, her instincts are usually right.

This time, Sidney Bloomfield surprised her. The freshman right fielder raced in and snared the sinking liner on a dead sprint.

Rinehart didn't mind being proven wrong, of course.

"I'm just excited knowing those balls can actually get caught now," Rinehart said. "It's going to save us so many runs and get us way more outs."

Scenes like that one from a practice last week have become commonplace this fall. Each day seems to bring a new batch of highlights.

All over the diamond, the competition is on. While the season won't officially begin for four months, there's real urgency to keep up.

It's precisely what head coach James DeFeo envisioned when he added six ready-to-help newcomers to a strong returning cast.

The Colonials will continue the push for progress with four doubleheaders over the next three weekends, beginning Saturday against Coppin State.

"There's not one spot where it hasn't gotten markedly better," DeFeo said. "When people come out and watch us play, they're going to see a completely different team."

It's also a different vibe than this time last year when DeFeo was racing to get to know the players and get everybody comfortable with his expectations ahead of his first season in charge.

That transition went even more smoothly than the coach expected. The result was a program-record 28 wins and a bunch of new entries in the statistical record book.

At the team's first meeting in August, DeFeo announced he was ready to pick up where they left off in the spring. The players were on board with plenty of goals left to chase, namely a return to the Atlantic 10 Tournament after missing out last season.

So far, the fall has gone exactly as advertised. The Colonials began team workouts after Labor Day before transitioning into official practice Sept. 18. The next step comes Saturday.

"This is definitely the most intense fall I've had here," senior pitcher Sarah Costlow said. "The standards have just been raised. The freshmen came in attacking. They're killing it. They obviously want a spot, so it's raising everybody's game."

That newfound energy was evident in the first round of team awards of the new school year. Bloomfield and fellow freshman Olivia Ortlieb shared Player of the Week honors.

For senior second baseman Rochelle Draper and the rest of the returning Colonials, it was an unmistakable sign that the position battles are far from over.

The next three weekends offer a great opportunity to get a leg up in the race, heading into winter break. They know the best way to secure a spot in the spring lineup is to keep adding to the fall highlight reel.

"We're all feeling it," Draper said. "Our coaches are expecting nothing but greatness, and we're expecting nothing but greatness from ourselves, too."

WATCH THIS: DeFeo, Draper and Costlow preview the fall schedule:



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