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 | Hoyas Slated to Play 5 Games in Citrus Classic

Aided by improved hitting and veteran pitching, the Georgetown softball team (5-3) has continued its rapid growth into a winning program.

In only its tenth season, the team has gradually improved over the years and has become a top contender in the Big East. The Hoyas set a program record with 26 wins last season, but the team has even larger ambitions for this season.

In the short term, Georgetown will travel to Orlando, Fla., this weekend for the Citrus Classic. The team will take on Nebraska-Omaha, No. 23 Notre Dame, Indiana, Fordham and Mississippi State, a formidable slate of opponents that will help the Hoyas as they work to improve prior to conference play.

“Whenever you can play that caliber of competition, it just prepares you to play the teams in your conference,” Head Coach Pat Conlan said.

Senior pitcher Megan Hyson, who is one of the team’s most feared power hitters, has once again led the Hoyas this season. Hyson had a stellar junior season in 2014, finishing with a record of 15-11 and an ERA of 2.36.

Hyson has taken her game to a higher level so far this season, with a record of 4-1 and an ERA of 0.86. Hyson is also second on the team in batting average (.360) and RBIs (8). She credits her success as a hitter to her experience as a two-way player.

“The good thing about being a pitcher is that when you’re hitting, you know the spins and you know the pitcher’s mindset — what she’s going to throw me next,” Hyson said.

The team’s number-two pitcher, senior Lauren O’Leary, has also provided valuable contributions to the team. O’Leary has started four games and has a record of 1-0 with an ERA of 3.09.

Conlan explains that this veteran pitching staff is a stabilizing force for the young team.

“We have two senior pitchers who have pitched the majority of the innings over the previous three seasons. I think when you can get that experience on the mound, and certainly the talent level between Megan and Lauren, it helps us quite a bit,” Conlan said.

The Hoyas have also received consistent offensive production from several other players. Georgetown has a team batting average of .292 so far this season, up from .246 in 2014.

Junior shortstop Grace Appelbe is off to a hot start, leading the team with a .370 batting average. Appelbe has already hit two home runs this season, matching her total from last year.

In addition, sophomore first baseman Alessandra Gargicevich-Almeida has a .357 batting average, and her sister, senior first baseman Sophia Gargicevich-Almeida, leads the team with three home runs and a slugging percentage of .750.

“We’ve got some talented kids who have worked really hard to put themselves in a good position this year. It’s still early, and I think that the most important thing that we’re focusing on is good quality at bats and consistency throughout the season,” Conlan said.

Last season, the Hoyas suffered a disappointing 5-3 loss to St. John’s in the semifinals of the Big East tournament, but that only strengthened the team’s desire to win its first Big East Championship. As it moves through its season, the team would love nothing more than to cap the program’s steady improvement with a championship and possibly an appearance in the NCAA tournament.

“We’ve been [to the Big East tournament] twice, and we want to win it this year. That’s our ultimate goal. Getting to the NCAAs for the first time would be awesome, especially because this group is really special, and I think we have a lot of talent, especially with the new freshmen added to the group. I think we can accomplish it,” Hyson said.

Before it can achieve any of these long-term goals, however, the team will navigate another jam-packed weekend of softball. Last weekend, the Hoyas were slated to play in the UNC Greensboro Spartan Classic, but the tournament was cancelled due to inclement weather. Still, the team is confident that it will be able to execute despite the long layoff.

Conlan expects the players to be ready when they take the field.

“We’ve had some good practices, so it wasn’t the worst thing to [take last weekend off]. … We’ll be ready to go and probably more prepared than we were for our earlier season tournaments,” Conlan said.

The Hoyas’ first game of the Citrus Classic against Nebraska-Omaha will be played Friday. First pitch is scheduled for 1:15 p.m.

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