Softball splits double-header with Howard

Junior Rachael Davies eyes down a pitch from Howard University during Wednesday's double-header. The Patriots won the first contest before dropping the second. (John Powell)

The George Mason Softball team split a double-header with Howard University Wednesday afternoon. After prevailing in the first game 6-2, they fell in the second game by a count of 8-5.

In the first game Mason was led early by their California-cannon, Miranda Cranford.  In just two innings, Cranford struck out four players, sitting only one away from her season high. Her mechanics were crisp and with each pitch her momentum took control.

It was completely silent, that’s the only way to describe the feeling. George Mason head coach Joe Verbanic, after watching his ace pitcher fire through four easy innings, pulled her for a reliever. It was freshman Stephanie Maher who came into the game in the fifth inning with a 2-0 lead over their rivals from Howard.

Both runs came off the bat of Tori Dudley. It was her homerun and her strong at bat in the fourth inning that gave her team the lead.

“Everybody gets opportunities,” Verbanic said. “It was Dudley’s day.”

“Maher, Maher, Maher,” the players chanted–she was no California cannon. The freshman reliever allowed two runs to score in the inning, as their lead was squandered.

But Mason was never out of the running as they made yet another offensive surge. It was Samantha Barney adding to the spark with her third hit of the day, a double to deep right center.

The best was yet to come.

They say speed kills–well it also scores runs. It was freshman Tiffany Webb’s inside the park homerun that gave Mason a 4-2 lead.

“It’s a team game and good teams make plays,” Verbanic said.
Mason used quality pitching to finish out the game, winning by a final score of 6-2.

In game two, it was a different story.

Howard came out the aggressor. An early 2-0 lead eventually blossomed to 3-0 lead by the fourth inning for the Bison.

After falling behind through most of the game, Mason recorded its first hit in the fifth inning off the bat of Lauren McColgan.

Mason strongest push came in the sixth when they were able to score three runs on a few singles and a few Howard errors. However, the push wasn’t enough, as Mason lost game two by a final score of 8-5.

Even with six Howard errors in the game, Mason was unable to ever really get going. Their bats were slow, real slow.

“Yes, obviously the ability to comeback is there. But this game isn’t the same as others, you don’t come back often. That’s why it’s so important to play dominate early,” Verbanic said.

The Patriots (11-17) saw flashes of brilliance from many of their role players and freshman contributors. In a split series there is much to gain on and much to forget. Mason will play host to Hofstra this weekend in an inter-conference matchup. There will be a double-header on Saturday followed by a single game on Sunday.

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