Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

SOFTBALL | GU Faces Wildcats in Big East Opener

After 21 tournament games, a West Coast trip and a few weather problems, the Georgetown softball team (9-12) will finally open its Big East season this weekend in Pennsylvania with a three-game series against Villanova.

Though the team has had to deal with cancellations and limited practice time due to the particularly harsh and prolonged winter, the Hoyas have still managed to win nine games. Notably, Georgetown won the 49er Invitational, where the Hoyas’ pitchers combined for a no-hitter and six shutouts while only allowing three runs to top-ranked UCLA.

“I think we have a strong foundation,” Head Coach Pat Conlan said.“There are a lot of things I think we need to clean up and be a little more consistent in, but overall I think that all of our games were very competitive, and our bats are starting to come around.”

A key part of the Hoyas’ lineup this year has been junior pitcher Megan Hyson, who has recorded a 1.86 ERA over 12 appearances and held opposing batters to a .187 batting average. Hyson threw a no-hitter and two shutouts in the 49er Tournament, en route to being named Most Valuable Pitcher and Big East Pitcher of the Week. She has also been named to the Big East Honor Roll three times.

“She’s having a fantastic year. It’s kind of one of those things where I don’t want to touch her. I just want to let her kind of roll on,” Conlan said. “I just want to keep it going for her. It’s a great honor any time that you could be recognized by your conference, three or four times this year, that’s fantastic. I’m really proud of her and the player she’s become.”

Hyson has been an offensive threat as well. She leads the team with a .387 batting average and 15 RBIs, and this weekend she will look to extend her five-game hitting streak.

“She’s seeing the ball really well right now at the plate and she’s spinning the ball very well from the mound. She’s just a real complete ballplayer for us right now and helping in every aspect of the game,” Conlan said.

Senior outfielder and second baseman Alexandria Anttila is second on the team with a .288 batting average and third with 10 RBIs behind senior second baseman Hannah Slovacek, who has 14.

The Blue and Gray will take on a familiar foe in Villanova. Last season Georgetown swept the Wildcats in a three-game series, and it has won six of the 10 all-time meetings between the teams.

Villanova (8-12) is led by sophomore pitcher Kate Poppe, who has 105 strikeouts this season and leads the Big East with a 1.34 ERA. The Wildcats are coached by Maria DiBernardi, who is returning for her 30th season as the head coach for Villanova. She holds an all-time coaching record of 752-644-10.

“Villanova’s one of the oldest members of our conference right now, and they always have a great team. [DiBernardi] does a really nice job of just putting a competitive group out there,” Conlan said.

Although it will be the first conference game of the season in a realigned Big East which now includes Creighton, Butler and Xavier, Conlan asserts that the games are not so much about the opponent as they are about the Hoyas’ own play.

“We try and stress that our kids play every game the same way no matter what name is across our opponents’ chests. We have to compete against the game and we have to do what we’re capable of,” Conlan said. “I think in everybody’s mind you’ll see that it’s conference and everybody’s excited because this is how we get an opportunity to play for a championship, but our approach won’t be any different.”

But the opponents still have some influence on strategy, according to Conlan. Conlan has been tinkering with the lineup throughout the season and has made decisions based on the relative importance of offense or defense anticipated in that game.

“Do we think we need more offense in this game, do we think this is a team we’re going to need tougher defense on, things like that. So it could still go day to day, but I think we have a pretty good idea of where people will play and what kind of role they’re going to play in those games,” Conlan said.

Barring any further weather barriers, Georgetown will take on Towson in its home opener on Tuesday. But Conlan is first looking to the conference opener at Villanova.

“It’s our route to a championship, and it begins in Philadelphia this weekend. Hopefully the snow is off their field and we can actually get these games in,” Conlan said.

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