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Your Guide to GW sports

Women's basketball head coach Jennifer Rizzotti remembers going up against the late Pat Summitt. Hatchet file photo by Dan Rich | Photo Editor

Women’s basketball head coach Jennifer Rizzotti remembers going up against the late Pat Summitt. Hatchet file photo by Dan Rich | Photo Editor

By 1995, Tennessee had already won three national championships under head coach Pat Summitt, appeared in 14 consecutive NCAA tournaments and solidified itself as a titan in the world of Division I women’s basketball.

On Jan. 16 of that year, the No. 1 ranked Lady Vols travelled north to take on an undefeated No. 2 Connecticut program on the rise. The Huskies roster featured budding stars Rebecca Lobo, Kara Wolters and junior starting point guard Jennifer Rizzotti.

Rizzotti, named head coach of GW women’s basketball this spring, knew her team was an underdog in the first-ever meeting between the two powerhouses.

The Huskies won 77-66.

“There was a tremendous amount of hype around the game and I think we were underestimated,” Rizzotti said in an interview Wednesday. “What Pat Summitt built at Tennessee, and the standard that she set and how badly all of us players at UConn wanted to beat them was just a testament to the respect that she garnered with her program because they were the standard. Everyone in the country was trying to catch them.”

Summitt, who began coaching in 1974 when she was just 22 years old, died Tuesday at the age of 64, five years after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease.

In her 38 years coaching the Lady Vols, Summitt led Tennessee to a staggering 8 national titles, 31 straight NCAA Tournament appearances and 1,098 wins—the most of any DI basketball coach, male or female.

Another career highlight of Summitt’s was leading Tennessee in one of the greatest rivalries in college hoops — one Rizzotti, and the sports world, won’t soon forget.

The epic head-to-head series between Tennessee and UConn spanned 12 years and 22 contests, four of which had national championships on the line, thrust the women’s game into the national conversation for the first time and epitomized Summitt’s legendary influence on the sport.

The teams’ second meeting was just a few months later, at the 1995 NCAA Championship. UConn entered the game at 34-0.

Despite her team’s perfect record, Rizzotti recalls Tennessee still being favored.

“People had said, well UConn wouldn’t have won if they hadn’t played at home,” Rizzotti said. “So they definitely aren’t going to beat [Tennessee] two times in a year and again it was just proof of how much people thought Pat Summitt could pull off anything.”

But the Huskies pulled off a win once again, this time by a score of 70-64. While the victory capped a historic campaign captained by head coach Geno Auriemma, Rizzotti credits Summitt with playing a part in that team’s unprecedented success.

“[Summitt] was such a competitor, she drove her team to be so hard to beat, they played so hard and I would say that we have to give her a lot of credit for the rise of the Connecticut program and where it’s come from that day,” Rizzotti said. “She pushed all of us to be better.”

Tennessee would exact revenge the following year, ousting UConn from the NCAA Tournament in the Final Four during Rizzotti’s senior season, and claim back-to-back-to-back national titles between 1996 and 1998.

The annual regular-season series between the schools was discontinued in 2007, and the sides haven’t met since. UConn currently leads Tennessee 13-9 in the all-time series.

In her 17 years coaching at the University Hartford, where she led the Hawks to four America East Conference championships before coming to Foggy Bottom, Rizzotti never faced off against Summitt, but always was someone she looked up to in her profession.

“One of the things you always hear about her is how hard she was able to drive her kids because of how much she cared about them,” Rizzotti said. “If you want to bring out the best, there has to be a personal relationship that extends beyond the basketball court and when you watch all of these former players and the outpouring of love and respect that they have for her, you know that she did things right.”

Summitt will also be remembered as a trailblazer for women in the college athletics, beginning her tenure just years after Title IX was passed, a law demanding that federally funded educational institutions provide men and women equal opportunity.

“She paved the way for all of us, men and women that are in the game. And women that are in other sports. She’s set the standard for what it means to have equal opportunity for female athletes,” Rizzotti said. “I can’t imagine how hard it used to be to be a coach or a player back in the 60s and 70s so I’m very grateful to her and all the pioneers of our game.”

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Updated: June 23, 2016 at 11:40 a.m.

Although men’s basketball doesn’t tip-off on a new season for a few more months, it’s 2016-17 schedule has already begun taking shape.

Here’s a complete list of matchups that have been announced thus far this offseason. Mark up your calendars while you continue to digest the epic saga that was the 2016 NBA Finals.

Out-of-conference games:

Nov. 11 vs. Maryland Eastern-Shore (Home opener)

Nov. 15 vs. Siena

Nov. 17 vs. Arkansas Pine Bluff

Nov. 21-22 at CBE Classic (Kansas City, Mo.) vs. Georgia/Kansas/UAB

Nov. 26 vs. Penn State

Dec. 4 at BB&T Classic (Verizon Center) vs. Florida State, according to CBS Sports’ Jon Rothstein.

Dec. 22 at Miami (Coral Gables, Fla.)

Atlantic 10 pairings (game dates/times TBD)

Note: Each A-10 team will play an 18-game conference schedule. The league’s 14 members face each team at least once and five teams twice.

Home: Dayton, Massachusetts, St. Bonaventure, Saint Louis, Davidson, Duquesne, George Mason, Richmond, VCU

Away: Fordham, La Salle, Rhode Island, Saint Joseph’s, Davidson, Duquesne, George Mason, Richmond, VCU

The 2017 A-10 Championship will be played on March 8-12 at the CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh.

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Sunday, June 12, 2016 6:09 p.m.

Pittsburgh Pirates select Mahala in 18th round

Rising senior Kevin Mahala was selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 18th round of Saturday’s MLB First-Year Player Draft.

As the everyday shortstop for the Colonials, Mahala batted .286 with four home runs and a team-high 47 RBIs. His 20 doubles on the season also led the team, rank second in the Atlantic 10 conference and sit at third most in program history.

As the 555th overall selection in the draft, Mahala becomes the highest GW athlete chosen since Eric Cantrell went in the seventh round to the Kansas City Royals in 2010.

Mahala also joins former teammate Shane Kemp as the only Colonials since the program’s inception to be selected by Pittsburgh. Kemp was a 26th round pick of the 2015 draft and made 10 combined appearances on the mound between two minor league affiliates for the Pirates last season.

The Basking Ridge, NJ native is still expected to return to the Colonials for his senior season after competing with the Wilmar Stingers of the Northwoods League over this summer.

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This post was written by Hatchet senior staff writer Josh Solomon.

BRONX, N.Y. – As the sun continued to set behind the gothic Keating Hall bell tower, shadows creeped across Fordham’s baseball field, left to right.

The batter was quickly covered in shadows at the Atlantic 10 Championship. Soon the same for the pitcher’s mound. It was starting to get dark in the GW dugout too.

The bell began to chime. It was 7 o’clock and it was the sixth inning of a rematch with No. 2 VCU.

Despite plenty of drama Thursday afternoon,  the season was seemingly over. The Colonials were up to their fourth pitcher of the day, with two others warming up in the pen, down seven runs.

An elimination game had gone ghost on a group ballplayers who busted out for six runs the night prior.

Despite eventually dropping the contest 12–4, it was then, in the sixth, when GW rallied.

The team displayed resilience, even showed off its season motto – grit and gratitude.

It was what head coach Gregg Ritchie would have liked to see – but it was not what the team’s manager saw, at least not in person.

A leadoff home run by junior Bobby Campbell, a double down the left field line to the warning track, a base hit up the middle to score another run. The quick rally was followed by three outs and no more runs. GW would not score again all game.

Ritchie would not see what happened from his usual helm at the team’s dugout steps, a place in which the team would look toward as their pirate ship, in a season embracing the rolling rhythms of the drama-filled Pirates of the Caribbean movies. At home, GW would play the movie’s noteworthy soundtrack when the team scored a run.

Ritchie was thrown out of the game, way out, down the left field line. The third base umpire gave Ritchie the first ejection of his career as a head coach at GW.

In his fourth season, he had apparently come close at least once before this year. This game though was against a VCU team that GW had lost to one day ago in a first round matchup and had lost two-out-of-three to at home during the season.

GW was already trailing 6–2 in the third inning. A starting pitching decision did not pan out well for Ritchie, electing to start sophomore Robbie Metz over his two other usual starters, neither of whom had been pitching well of late, while Metz had barely started all season-long.

Metz gave up two runs in a challenging top of the first inning. The pitches were up and VCU was hitting.

“Robbie hadn’t gotten to pitch a lot. It’s tough,” catcher, senior Matthieu Robért said. “Guys step up and do what they can and that’s all they can do.”

Robért had catching duties in the final two games of the tournament, in lieu of the season’s usual starter, sophomore Brandon Chapman. Ritchie quickly noted after the Saint Louis win that he highly valued his senior’s leadership on the field as a key to the team’s success.

Ritchie would then called on one of the other potential starters, sophomore Brady Renner. He gave up a four-spot in the second, including a three-run home run to almost an identical spot in the left center bleachers as Mahala did to put away Saint Louis last night. Both swings had given their respective teams their sixth run.

With one out in the third, sophomore Mark Osis, who had a breakout season, singled his way on. Then A-10 All Conference First Team first baseman, junior Bobby Campbell came to bat. He looked down at third base coach, Dave Lorber for the signs. No bunt, no hit-and-run, the call on the first pitch allowed Campbell to swing.

Campbell swung and hit the ball off his foot in the batter’s box, a typical foul ball call. The home plate umpire did not call it. Campbell, assuming that was the call, stayed put in the batter’s box. The VCU third baseman who fielded the ball threw to first for the out.

Campbell put up his arms in question. The GW faithful in the stands loudly questioned. Ritchie questioned. He asked for a meeting of the umpires. The umpires met. The umpires decided the play call on the field stood and Campbell was out.

The next batter was at the box and the VCU pitcher was ready to toe the rubber. Then Ritchie left the dugout. He went to the third base umpire, who likely had the best view of the ball off of Campbell’s foot. About a minute into the conversation, the umpire gave him the hook.

After following the umpire all the way into left field, Ritchie eventually would be brought back to the dugout by Lorber. GW’s head coach was greeted by a dugout on the top step, applauding him as he entered and then exited the ballpark.

At that moment, the team was as loud as they had been all year.

“The guys got fired up,” catcher, senior Matthieu Robért said. “Coach has done a lot for me and the team over the past four years, and that’s just one example of him having our back. I think anything else needs to be said. He has our back and he showed it.”

“I’m really thankful that I have a coach that will do that,” Campbell said. “He’ll fight for us.”

The fight was there but the hitting shoes weren’t always aboard GW’s ship this season. The team would not score a run that inning and bring in just two more in the game in a mini-rally in the sixth inning. VCU would continue to tag on runs.

The 2016 campaign was marked by injuries to pitchers in the preseason and core hitters in the middle of conference play. It was one in which the Colonials had a chance to take a hold of first place and could have missed the playoffs altogether; sometimes the timing was right.

The 2016 campaign had its highs and it had its lows, which amounted to a .500 season – 13-13 in A-10 play.

And the 2016 campaign for GW baseball was supposed to be one to win a conference championship.

A team with two senior starters and a lineup filled with returning juniors and sophomores seemed like a strong combination to win it all. A season will go as a season goes sometimes, and this season went with starting pitching and a streaky lineup, neither of which showed up Thursday night in the Bronx.

As the sun all but vanished, the field flood lights took over, GW poised themselves for an eighth inning rally with a runner on second. The grit and gratitude on display, what Ritchie said the day prior after the team’s win rings loudly.

“A win’s a win. A loss is a loss. You expect to win every single time,” he said. “You want to sweep all the time. You expect to win the ring and the championship. Yeah, you want to go to the World Series. And I feel good all the time.”

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This post was written by Hatchet senior staff writer Josh Solomon.

BRONX, NY – In the thirty minutes between games staff members working the A-10 Championship at Fordham headed to the press box to grab some of the remaining now-cold hamburgers.

Overlooking the field, on a day of 90-degree summer heat and upsets between the base paths, one staff member turned to another between bites of his burger. “I would imagine Saint Louis would win, but with the way the day’s gone, I’m going to go with GW.”

The burger-eating-staffer was right to assume Saint Louis should win. The Billikens were the higher seeded team. The Billikens also just swept the Colonials a few days ago, outscoring them 28-10 in the series.

And GW had lost to VCU 5-1 this afternoon, showing few signs of lively bats. Down to the elimination side of the bracket, he Colonials were set to play the loser of the late afternoon game.

GW would draw the Billikens, after the team blew a 5–2 lead to Fordham in the eighth inning. Meanwhile GW had been back to its hotel room and changed uniforms to its steely grey pants (which some opposing teams have referred to as pajama pants).

The pajama pants proved to be potent for a Colonials bunch that lacked punch just hours earlier.

First, it took the form of lucky jab that landed for an early 1-0 lead. Then came a fortunate follow up of a two-out rally for two more runs. What followed was a knockout punch in the form of a three run home to the football bleachers in deep left center field by junior Kevin Mahala to give the Colonials a six run lead and eventually the game.

A bunch of runs, coupled with a clutch start by senior Jacob Williams, who twirled 5.2 innings, giving up one run on five hits and striking out six, helped to keep the season alive in a 6-1 win for GW.

“I’ve said this all the time, our guys are pretty resilient in bouncing back,” head coach Gregg Ritchie said.

Before the playoff started, following the sweep to Saint Louis, Ritchie said that the number one key to his team’s success in the tournament was pitching, primarily starting pitching. Earlier in the day, fellow senior Bobby LeWarne couldn’t keep it together in the fifth inning.

Wednesday night, Williams worked well through five innings, and only a hiccup in the sixth on a balk and a couple seeing-eye singles succumbed him to the end of his start. The Billikens were held without a hit until two outs in the fourth.

“I had a lot of adrenaline out there, knowing it could be the last opportunity to pitch in my career,” Williams said. “Also just trying to give everybody on the team, especially the other seniors a chance to just keep playing. None of us want the season to end, especially our careers.”

GW fed off the momentum from its starter.

Though the Colonials couldn’t capitalize on a one-out double by sophomore Robbie Metz in the first inning, they were able to come back in the second inning and score one.

Here’s where the luck came in: with runners on first and second and one out, the night’ designated hitter (with senior Matthieu Robért behind the dish), sophomore Brandon Chapman grounded into what should have been a routine double play to end the inning. The throw to first was low and skirted under the first baseman’s glove to allow one run to score.

In the fourth, Robért was hit by a pitch with two outs. Chapman, down in the count to his final strike, drove one over the center fielder’s head for a double to score his fellow catching mate. Junior Joey Bartosic followed up with an RBI single of his own.

And then the big inning came in what amounted to be a nine pitch at bat to Mahala. Foul ball after foul ball, finally Mahala straightened out one and to one of the deepest parts of the ballpark.

“I just kept telling myself you’re due, you’re due, because I’ve been struggling a little bit lately,” Mahala said.

He smoked a no-doubter, three-run home run into the bleachers in left center. That gave GW a six run lead and would be all for the day, plenty for a win against Saint Louis.

“We called ourselves the eliminators last year, and we’re trying to buy into that again this year,” Mahala said. “They had our number last weekend but we pride ourselves in our ability to dust ourselves off and that’s exactly what we did.”

GW will play Thursday at 5 p.m in a rematch with No. 2 VCU who lost to Davidson Thursday. Potential starters could be junior Shane Sweeney, or sophomores Brady Renner of Robbie Metz. 

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This post was written by Hatchet senior staff writer Josh Solomon.

BRONX, NY – Last time senior Bobby LeWarne pitched against VCU, he threw a complete game, tossing 131 pitches and allowing only three runs.

That was nearly a month ago, when the Colonials still had a chance to take first place. GW lost that outing 3–0, in a shutout at the hands of the to-be Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Year, Michael Dailey.

From that series against VCU on, GW carried a 4-8 record on its way to the bottom seed in the A-10 Championship.

As the seven seed versus the second seeded Rams, the Colonials needed to win the opening matchup to give themselves a quality chance to win the tournament. With a loss, GW would enter the consolation side of the bracket, making it extremely difficult to go the distance and still have enough pitching to compete.

In the opening round of the postseason, LeWarne earned a rematch with Dailey.

“We were saying if we were VCU, we would be scared to play us,” sophomore Mark Osis said. “That was a bad draw for them and we had a lot of confidence coming into today, knowing we could hang with them. Things just didn’t go our way.”

It turned out to be Dailey’s day.

He kept the Colonials bats quiet for seven straight innings, allowing just one run in the sixth. GW managed a few opportunities at the plate, but ultimately were shut down offensively, losing 5–1.

GW’s game plan against Dailey fell through.

“We didn’t follow it,” head coach Gregg Ritchie said. “[Our plan was to] stay on the ball. Get good pitches. Stay on the ball. No pull.”

GW rolled over and ground out most of the game, weakly hitting the ball against the Rams ace.

The Colonials were also hurt by a rough fifth inning that LeWarne couldn’t finesse his way out of in his usual fashion.

He gave up a leadoff double and then walked the three-hole hitter on a full count. A wild pitch on a strikeout then moved the runners into scoring position.

With men on second and third, LeWarne tried to intentionally load the bases to create a force out opportunity. On his first pitch on the intentional walk LeWarne was called for a balk by the umpire standing near second base. The run scored and the game started to collapse on the Colonials

“I just left a few pitches up. That balk was embarrassing and I just got to execute those pitches more to get out of that inning,” LeWarne said.

LeWarne threw his second wild pitch of the inning allowing another runner to score.

Then the bullpen entered, starting with freshman Justin Friedman. What followed was a passed ball, an infield single, a base hit and a wild pitch.

Ritchie then handed the ball off to senior Luke Olson who got a ground ball to end the inning, but it was too late. The first three runs had crossed the plate for VCU in the fifth.

Ritchie could have gone to the bullpen earlier, but, as he has done all season, he stuck with his starter.

“Bobby LeWarne is our senior, he’s our guy, who gives us the best effort out of what we got, situationally here,” Ritchie said. “I have no regrets on that whatsoever.”

The game continued to slip away from GW, although the team still had its chances at the plate.

In the sixth inning, the Colonials led off the inning with a walk but then the previously red-hot, junior Joey Bartosic grounded into a double play.

Later in the inning, GW scraped across one run on a two-out double by sophomore Mark Osis, but could not connect for another base hit to drive in anything more.

“I was hoping it would turn the tides a little bit,” Osis said. “I was excited to get my team excited because I could see them on the bench, getting pumped up. But unfortunately we couldn’t string a few more together.”

In the eighth inning after the Rams had gone to their bullpen, GW had its best opportunity all game. The Colonials landed their first two batters on base, but an infield fly by sophomore Robbie Metz and a double play ball by Osis ended the threat.

Finally in the ninth, with two GW runners on base, VCU’s closer finished the game off.

GW will now go onto play tonight at 8:30, taking on the loser of the four-five seed matchup between Saint Louis and Fordham.

The Colonials had lost two-of-three to VCU, but played three close games, while they were swept by both the Billikens and the Fordham Rams this season.

“We all know we have a quick turnaround coming tonight, with our backs against the wall,” Osis said. “So there’s no real time to hang your head. We have to pick ourselves back up and get a ‘W’ tonight.”

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Wednesday, May 25, 2016 5:27 p.m.

Softball coach resigns after six seasons

Softball head coach Stacey Schramm announced her resignation from the program Wednesday, according to a release from GW Athletics.

The search for a new coach will begin immediately, according to the release.

During her six seasons at the helm, Schramm recorded a 134-162-2 record and led the Colonials to the postseason three times, including earning the No. 6 seed in the 2016 A-10 tournament.

During this year’s double-elimination playoffs, Schramm and the Colonials dropped both of their first two games at the hands of Massachusetts (9–0) and Saint Louis (4–3), becoming the first victim of the tournament.

Even with the departure of Schramm, GW returns a strong roster for its 2016-2017 season. The Colonials only graduated two starters, senior infielders Carlee Gray and Morgan Matetic, while returning key contributors including sophomore pitcher Sarah Costlow and junior center fielder Monica Macchiarulo.

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This post was written by Hatchet senior staff writer Josh Solomon.

As Ritchie said after the Saint Louis sweep, if GW cannot pitch well – particularly the starting end to keep the team in the game – then the Colonials will probably lose.

But, before tournament play begins, it can be useful to look at what else will and will not potentially go in the favor of the Colonials

The following is a brief breakdown of some key team and player statistics that if go right, GW could win each individual game, and give themselves a legitimate chance to make a run to the title game and win it all.

Conference and Team Stats

In A-10 play GW has been average, by the numbers. The team is sixth out of 13 in the conference in batting average and the Colonials are 11th in team ERA, during conference play.

 

There are a few categories worth highlighting though.

GW struck out the second-least in the league during conference play, next to VCU. That comes out to about a clip of five strikeouts per game by the Colonials batters.

Individually, senior Luke Olson boasted the second-best ERA by any individual during conference play, at 0.98.

Junior Joey Bartosic led or was close to the top for several categories offensively for the conference. He had the top batting average in A-10 play: .426. He also collected the most hits: 43.

Bartosic and his teammate, junior Bobby Campbell (who collected the seventh most RBI in A-10 play, at 19) both were awarded All-Conference First Team honors this weekend.

GW averaged about 4.6 runs per game in A-10 play. The team collected about nine hits a game and struck about five times, while walking twice a game. The Colonials would on average leave nearly seven runners on base per game and commit one fielding error a game.

Advanced Stats

Here are a few quick hits on the team’s success when the Colonials and specific Colonials perform up to a certain standard. All calculations use the full regular season’s numbers.

Unlike most statistics for the Colonials in attempting to predict success, hits is one of the few that is significant in telling any type of story. Although it would be logical for a stat like runners left on base or fielding errors committed, or even amount of times striking out in the game, those statistics prove to not have an exceptional, predictable outcome on the result of the game.

Rather, and somewhat understandably, the more hits GW gets the more likely the team is to win. What’s the breaking point? When the Colonials rack up nearly 11 hits in a game, they will likely win by one run. This is not to say that they cannot win without 11 hits, but if they do hit that magic number, it is almost definite that they will come out on top. Of note: GW’s first-round opponent, VCU gave up about nine hits a game this season.

How important is the A-10’s top hitter to GW’s success? When Joey Bartosic scores a run in a game, the Colonials win. If Bartosic scores two runs in the game, GW will likely win by three runs. Without a run by the talented leadoff hitter, the Colonials will likely lose by about two runs. In other words, Bartosic is the team’s essential table-setter.

A couple of Colonials have carried the GW offense from runs batted in perspective:

GW is likely to lose if junior Kevin Mahala does not drive in a run. When he does knock one in though, the Colonials typically will win by a little less than a run, on average. This means that Mahala’s success with runners in scoring position is vital to the team’s ability to win games this year. This makes sense too because for the most part, Mahala has batted near the heart of the lineup, in prime positioning to influence the outcome.

The Colonials are also likely to lose to if junior Bobby Campbell does not drive in a run. Note though this is independent of whether Mahala drives in a run too. What this does take into account is that both hitters are a huge part to the GW offense.

Campbell in fact is even more valuable: if he drives in one run, GW will likely win by one run and when he drives in two runs, the team will likely win by three runs. Campbell’s effects are similar to Bartosic’s, which is a good indicator to why these two players are both on the All-Conference First Team.

From the pitching end it’s a little harder to predict potential success since GW’s rotation has been anything less than predictable. The Colonials have had one steady starter, senior Bobby LeWarne. “The Bull” has not been the same since his last start against VCU, in which he threw 9.0 innings, giving up five hits and three runs in the loss. The tough senior threw a 131 pitches in that game. Since then he has thrown a combined 12.2 innings pitched in three starts, giving up 15 runs, all earned.

In those three conference matchups, LeWarne has not been able to battle through early inning trouble like he is most known for being able to artfully do. If he does get the start Wednesday against VCU, it will be a matchup worth throwing the numbers out and just watching to see what the senior can do when he toes the rubber.

Read our full A-10 Championship preview here.

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This post was written by Hatchet senior staff writer Josh Solomon.

Sitting in the head coach’s office in the fall, there was a fresh feeling.

There were few fresh faces, some assistant coaching staff changes were made, but the whiteboard adjacent to Gregg Ritchie’s desk was decorated by the names of returning players.

Players who helped make up one of the youngest teams in the country the year prior, and the youngest team in the country two years ago, when a group of a half dozen or so freshmen set out to help rebuild the baseball program.

The freshness did not come from three-year-old Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year award that sat between the desk and the whiteboard. No, the past was the past at that point. The freshness came from familiar faces who would fill lineup cards for the months to follow, ready to finally win an A-10 Championship and make it to the College World Series.

Now in late May, the past is a conference season that finished 12-12 and a regular season that ended 23-31.

The past is a team that struggled with injuries – some early injuries to young arms who never got to pitch in 2016, and some mid-season injuries that lingered and still lurk, creating a dent to the strength of the lineup took, when junior Kevin Mahala and sophomore Mark Osis battled through injuries.

The past is a team that struggled with a tough non-conference – one meant to harden the team’s ability to fight through baseball’s adversities, particularly late in the season like the postseason.

The past is a team that could have won a series from VCU. At that point in the season, a series win would have meant at least a share of first place in the A-10. Instead a 13-inning affair, in which Ritchie used his closer, junior Eddie Muhl, for the final 6.1 innings on 94 pitches, came up short and the team fell back into the middle of the pack.

“The guys still have one thing in mind,” Ritchie said, after this past weekend’s sweep at the hands of Saint Louis. “They want to win an A-10. And we’re going to go out there and do everything we can to do that.”

GW enters postseason play as the seven seed, out of seven seeds.

This means the Colonials finished seventh out of 13, which is good, but not great when it comes to tournament seeding. It rarely happens where a seed lower than a five wins the tournament. Last year, fifth-seeded VCU won it all and eventually went on to the NCAA Super Regionals.

What doesn’t matter though when it comes to seeding is even as the seven seed, if the Colonials wins, and keeps winning, they can win it all. The odds are only stacked against them if they lose in one of their first two games, in this double elimination format.

GW will kick off the A-10 tournament, hosted by Fordham, at 1:30 p.m Wednesday. Against No. 2 seed VCU (15-7)

If the Colonials win Wednesday afternoon, they would play Thursday morning at 10 a.m. against the winner of No. 3 seed Saint Joseph’s (15-9) and No. 6 seed Davidson (11-11).

If GW loses to VCU though, the team will face an elimination game Wednesday night against the lowest-seeded loser between the three teams: Davidson, No. 4 Saint Louis (15-9) or No. 5 Fordham (14-10) at 8:30 p.m.

“I think they feel a confidence level that they know they played [VCU] and they know they played with them, they’ve beaten them, and they played the fourteen inning game they lost, so I think there is no, ‘Hey, it’s an unknown,’ or ‘Are we good enough?’ No, we are good enough,” Rithcie said. “We play our game, we play good, but to do that, you got to have pitching. That’s going to be the key to the whole thing.”

Pitching will be the big point of concern for the Colonials, who will be looking for a quality start from whomever gets the ball for the day.

Likely candidates include, seniors Bobby LeWarne, who threw a complete game and gave up three runs in a loss to VCU when GW played the Rams at home earlier this year, or Jacob Williams, who threw 6.1 innings, giving up five hits and one run in relief in the middle game of the VCU series.

LeWarne might be the more likely starter since he has been the unofficial ace of the staff all season long, despite not pitching well in his last three starts.

Although that would seem logical, with Ritchie, anything can go, particularly this season and especially in the playoffs with a team that has one goal, which is still very fresh in its mind – an A-10 Championship.

“You got to do what you got to do to win the game at hand,” Ritchie said “You cannot think so far ahead in a playoff situation like this, where you think, ‘Oh, I have to worry about game number two.’ No, game number two means nothing.”

View the full A-10 Championship bracket here.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2016 4:30 p.m.

Men’s basketball signs Justin Williams

Annapolis Area Christian School guard Justin Williams has signed a National Letter of Intent to join the men’s basketball program, head coach Mike Lonergan announced Tuesday.

Williams becomes the sixth member of the 2016-2017 class, joining guards Darnell Rogers and Jair Bolden, forwards Kevin Marfo and Arnaldo Toro and center Collin Smith who signed with the team in November.

“Justin is a straight-A student who is also a very talented athlete,” Lonergan said in a release. “He has great potential and because of his work ethic, we expect him to have a bright future at GW in the classroom where he will major in engineering, and on the court where he gives us a strong and athletic small forward. We are excited about the depth Justin gives us at the wing position.”

The 6-foot-3-inch Glen Burnie, Md. native transferred to AACS from Mount St. Joseph’s after his sophomore year and scored more than 1,100 points in his two seasons as an upperclassmen, leading his team in scoring with 18 points per game as a junior and 24 per game as a senior.

Williams also led AACS to two regular-season league titles and scored 41 points in the championship game as team captain his senior year to garner the Most Outstanding Player of the Independent School Tournament award.

The signing follows a flurry of departures from GW, as sophomores Paul Jorgensen, Anthony Swan and Matt Cimino all announced transfers earlier this offseason.

While the Colonials will now return just six players from last year’s roster, and two starters in rising redshirt senior Tyler Cavanaugh and junior Yuta Watanabe, Lonergan found depth and experience with the addition of Harvard transfer Patrick Steeves in late April, who has two years of eligibility remaining.

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