After dropping the lead in games against St. John’s (18-13, 9-0 Big East) and Towson (24-16, 5-7 CAA), the Georgetown women’s softball team (13-24, 3-7 Big East) is looking to straighten out its issues with consistency. Georgetown will get the opportunity to prove that it can play seven innings of quality softball when the team travels to Indianapolis this Saturday to face off against conference rival Butler (16-22, 4-8 Big East) this Saturday in what is expected to be an evenly-matched three-game series.
More than halfway through conference play, the two teams are in similar positions in the Big East standings. Butler’s 4-8 conference record ranks fifth among the eight Big East teams, whereas the Hoyas’ 3-7 record leaves them tied for sixth place, just behind the Bulldogs.
“I believe that we can beat anybody, and Butler is indeed extremely beatable,” senior first baseman Sophia Gargicevich-Almeida said. “However, we are going to have to step up in all aspects of our game if we plan to beat them.”
Last season’s series between Georgetown and Butler suggests that this weekend’s contests will likely be close. The Bulldogs won the series last year, but no game was decided by more than two runs. Georgetown took the first contest, edging Butler 6-5 in extra innings. The Bulldogs won the final two contests with scores of 4-2 and 2-0, respectively.
“[Butler is] returning almost everyone from [last year’s] team and we are returning quite a few players on our roster,” Head Coach Pat Conlan said. “We only won one of three games on our home field last year, so I am looking forward to getting back out on the field against them and showing them a better Hoya team.”
To beat Butler, the Hoyas will need senior pitcher Megan Hyson to continue her impressive performance on the mound. Hyson, who ranks second in the Big East in strikeouts, has pitched 132 2/3 innings this season, more than twice as many as any other Georgetown pitcher.
Hyson has complemented her outstanding pitching performances with consistent offensive contributions for the Hoyas. The senior ranks second on the team in on base percentage and runs scored, third in hits and fourth in RBIs and batting average.
“Megan is not only a senior captain and a four-year starter for us, but she is also the most athletic and strongest player on our team,” Conlan said. “We look for her to be involved in everything. When Meg’s rolling, we’re rolling, and that has been the case for the last four years.”
In addition to Hyson, Georgetown has received outstanding offensive production from sophomore center fielder Hannah Ramsey, freshman left fielder Theresa Kane and Gargicevich-Almeida. Ramsey’s .333 batting average and .349 on base percentage lead the team. Kane takes top honors in hits and runs scored, tallying 33 hits and 25 runs. Gargicevich-Almeida has a team-high four home runs and leads the Hoyas with 21 RBIs so far this season.
“I strive to… maintain my positive and relentless attitude and give all my effort,” Gargicevich-Almeida said. “[I am] just doing my best to make adjustments as quickly as possible. Working hard in preparation and controlling what I can control makes room for success.”
Georgetown will have no choice but to be strong in the batter’s box this weekend, as the Hoyas’ lineup will undoubtedly face Butler’s junior left-handed pitcher Kristin Gutierrez. Gutierrez has pitched 114 innings for the Bulldogs this season, recording 61 strikeouts and only 27 walks. Her 3.25 earned run average is the sixth lowest in the Big East.
“[Gutierrez] has really done very well for [Butler] this year,” Conlan said. “We faced her last year and we struggled with her. We need to focus on getting to her.”
The Hoyas will also have to be prepared for the offensive threats in the heart of Butler’s batting order. Junior first baseman Alex Kotter bats third for the Bulldogs. Kotter ranks second in the Big East, with 44 hits this season. In the fourth slot for Butler’s team is sophomore center fielder Brandyce Sallee. She is tied for the top spot in the Big East, with 11 doubles this season.
“We need to make sure we are facing [Butler’s] three and four hitters without other people on base,” Conlan said. “When we have done that this year we have been very successful. We have isolated team’s best hitters so they don’t have opportunities to score or to drive in runs.”
Winning the Butler series is vital for the Hoyas if they are going to make a run at qualifying for the Big East postseason tournament.
“Winning every series that we play from here on out is an absolute necessity. We have to take two games this weekend no matter what,” Conlan said.