Your Guide to GW sports

Then-junior Tori Valos hits a home run for the Colonials against Georgetown. Valos graduated from GW earlier this month. Hatchet File Photo

Then-junior Tori Valos hits a home run for the Colonials against Georgetown. Valos graduated from GW earlier this month. Hatchet File Photo

Former softball star Tori Valos, who graduated earlier this month, has signed with the Dallas Charge, a professional softball team in the National Pro Fastpitch league.

Valos, a shortstop who hit .358 in her final season as a Colonial this spring, joins Elana Meyers Taylor as the second GW alumna to compete at the professional level.

“I am really looking forward to the challenges I will be facing in this new chapter of my career,” Valos said in a release. “This game is never-ending when it comes to improving your skills. As an athlete, there is always room to grow and become better and I am exited to be surrounded by coaches, players and competitors who have great experiences I can learn from.”

After two tryouts in Texas shortly following her final collegiate game on May 3, Valos was selected by the Charge, which will embark on its inaugural season in 2015. The team will join the Akron Racers, Chicago Bandits, Pennsylvania Rebellion and three-time league champion USSSA Pride in the five-team NPF league.

The 5-foot-4-inch Bakersfield, Calif. native ended her career at GW with a laundry list of program records. A three-time Colonials’ MVP, Valos leads GW softball in 11 statistical categories including career hits, home runs, RBIs, total bases, and at-bats.

The Charge will host the Rebellion in a season-opening three-game series from June 3-5, before taking on the back-to-back league champion Pride from June 6-9 to finish the home stand, all part of a 48-game 2015 regular season schedule.

“Signing with the Charge feels just like when I signed with GW,” Valos said. “I am excited, but I want to make sure I leave a legacy for future players to help encourage them to work up to their potential and push their limits. For me, this journey is about leaving something behind to inspire others and serve as a reminder of what hard work looks like.”

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The Colonials first, second and third varsity eights finished off their 2015 Campaign on Lake Mercer Sunday at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association National Championships.

The first boat finished 22nd, the second 15th and the third 16th in their respective events at rowing’s national championship, and those rankings will count nationally as their final slots for the year. The second varsity eight’s finish is it’s best since coming in 12th in 2009.

The top boat’s performances in the preliminary heats and repechages on Friday and Saturday placed the crew in the fourth of four finals, each racing six crews. The Colonials finished in 5:50.65, topping Oklahoma City and UC Santa Clara but crossing the 2,000-meter mark behind a fairly tight pack of Syracuse, Drexel and Oregon State. The University of Washington claimed the top overall spot in the varsity eight grand final as well as the grand finals in the second and third varsity eight races.

The second varsity eight was barely edged by Navy for third place in the third level final. The Colonials finished in 5:54.049, less than a second behind the Midshipmen. Columbia took first in the third level final, while Syracuse, Hobart and Oregon State trailed the Colonials to the finish line.

The third varsity eight finished fourth in its third level final. With a time of 6:04.03, GW beat Drexel, Hobart and Holy Cross but finished after winner Syracuse, Oregon State and the University of Pennsylvania.

Recent graduates Scott Yanoff and Matthew Coughlin rowed their final races for GW at the event. They rowed as the bow pair in the second boat.

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Julius Tverijonas, a rising junior on the men’s tennis team, earned his first professional doubles title at the Turkey F20 Futures tournament last weekend.

The unseeded Siauliai, Lithuania native and Bolivian partner Federico Zeballos upset top-seeded Mark Fynn and Arthur Surreaux in the semifinals with a 6-2, 6-7(5) (10-7) victory to earn the chance to face off against the fourth-seeded French pair of Constantin Belot and Nicolas Rosenzweig in the championship. They won easily, 6-3, 6-3.

The pair cruised to winning its first match 6-0, 6-2 before defeating the draw’s third-seeded pair 5-7, 6-3 (11-9) in the tournament quarterfinals.

The tournament, held at Turkey’s Belconti Resort Hotel, is part of the International Tennis Federation Men’s Circuit, an entry-level professional tennis organization.

Tverijonas finished his 2014-15 campaign at GW with 9-7 overall singles record and a 13-10 overall doubles record, as his team claimed its second consecutive A-10 championship with a win over No. 2 VCU last month.

The 20-year-old pre-business administration major will look for his second doubles title this week, paired with Surreaux in the Turkey F21 Futures tournament. The duo will face top-seeded Ricardo Rodriguez and Ruan Roelofse in the semifinal on Friday.

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The Atlantic 10 announced its women’s basketball league pairings for the upcoming 2015-15 season on Thursday.

A 16-game conference schedule for each of the A-10’s 14 members will allow every team to play each other at least once and three teams twice.

Reigning A-10 champion GW will take on Dayton, George Mason and Richmond both home and away next season. The Colonials played the same three teams twice in 2014-15, going 6-0 en route to a final regular season A-10 record of 15-1.

GW will also host La Salle, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Saint Louis and VCU at the Smith Center, and pay visits to Davidson, Duquesne, Fordham, St. Bonaventure and Saint Joseph’s next season.

The Colonials are coming off one of their best seasons in program history. After defeating Dayton in the A-10 championship final, the historic, 29-win campaign was cut short by a first round loss to No. 11 Gonzaga in the 2015 NCAA Tournament.

The league as a whole also sent five teams to the postseason in 2015, while three A-10 players were selected in the 2015 WNBA draft.

The 2016 A-10 women’s basketball championship will be played March 2-6, 2016 at the Richmond Coliseum.

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Could Georgetown-GW happen at long last?

Well, maybe. The D.C. Council will host a roundtable Thursday to discuss whether the group should support the creation of a “Big 6″ college basketball tournament in the District featuring GW, Georgetown, American, Maryland, George Mason and Howard.

The roundtable will be held at 2:45 p.m. and discuss the legislation proposed by Ward 2 Council member Jack Evans, who represents Foggy Bottom.

His proposal cited the existence of a similar style event in Philadelphia and the possibility of restructuring the BB&T Classic to pit local schools against each other, which would likely increase attendance and excitement around the event. Both GW and Georgetown competed in the BB&T Classic last season, but did not play each other.

The Colonials already play Atlantic 10 foe George Mason regularly, but have not suited up against the Hoyas since 1982. Athletic director Patrick Nero and men’s basketball head coach Mike Lonergan have expressed interest in scheduling a game against Georgetown.

Evans’ bill, if adopted, would ask Mayor Muriel Bowser’s office to form a “D.C. Big 6 Working Group” within 30 days to explore the creation of the event.

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The Atlantic 10 released the 2015-16 men’s basketball schedule pairings on Tuesday, slating 18-game conference schedules for each of the league’s 14 teams for the second year in a row.

A total of 126 A-10 games will be played next season, allowing teams to meet each conference foe at least once, and five teams twice.

GW will face Davidson, Duquesne, George Mason, Richmond and VCU both at home and on the road next season. The Colonials combined for a 4-6 record against the five teams in the 2014-15 regular season.

The Colonials will also host Fordham, La Salle, Rhode Island and Saint Joseph’s, all teams they visited last season, and will instead travel to Dayton, Massachusetts, Saint Bonaventure and Saint Louis this year.

While an official schedule has yet to be released, GW will also host non-conference opponents Seton Hall, Penn State, Rutgers and Virginia at the Smith Center and visit DePaul in 2015-16 on the back-end of five home-and-home series’.

The league also announced that the 2016 A-10 championship will be played March 9-13 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. GW was eliminated from the 2015 A-10 championship in the quarterfinals by Rhode Island.

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Freshman Yuta Watanabe and junior Kevin Larsen on a visit to the White House to watch the arrival ceremony for Shinzo Abe, the Prime Minister of Japan. Watanabe was invited as a sports ambassador between the U.S. and Japan. Hatchet File Photo

Freshman Yuta Watanabe and junior Kevin Larsen on a visit to the White House to watch the arrival ceremony for Shinzo Abe, the Prime Minister of Japan. Watanabe was invited as a sports ambassador between the U.S. and Japan. Hatchet File Photo

The men’s basketball team is planning a trip to Japan sometime during the 2016 summer, athletic director Patrick Nero told The Japan Times on Monday.

Nero is currently in Japan with men’s basketball head coach Mike Lonergan to explore potential exhibition game opponents for the squad, which last toured internationally in 2012 when the team went to Italy.

The Colonials are allowed one foreign trip every four years according to NCAA regulations. The trip would give Japanese star Yuta Watanabe, who will finish his sophomore year before next summer, a chance to play with GW in front of fans at home. Watanabe is from Kagawa, Japan.

Nero told The Japan Times that sports business students could also join the team on the trip and would use it as an educational opportunity to study sports administration and get a taste of Japanese culture.

The details of the tour have yet to be ironed out, but Nero said it would likely take place in August but could also happen in June. The destinations would likely be Tokyo and Okinawa, with stops for games, cultural sites and volunteer work. The men’s team held a basketball clinic for children when it toured Italy, and the women’s basketball team did the same on a tour of England and France last summer.

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Baseball landed a pair of rookies on the Atlantic 10 all-championship team in pitcher-second baseman double threat Robbie Metz and catcher Brandon Chapman, the league announced Saturday.

Metz was 4-13 at the plate in the championship, where GW was eliminated Friday by Davidson but won two games in the tournament for the first time since 2006, and tossed 2.2 innings in GW’s 7-2 comeback win over Richmond as the starter Friday morning. He gave up six hits and two runs.

Chapman was 5-17 at the plate and batted in six runs over the course of the tournament.

The Colonials fell to Richmond 4-1 in the opening game of the tournament before beating Fordham 11-5 Wednesday night facing elimination. GW then won the rematch with the Spiders before falling to Davidson 2-1, thereby ending their run for the A-10 title.

VCU won the A-10 championship game 5-3 over Rhode Island on Saturday.

2015 Atlantic 10 all-championship team
Michael Morman, Richmond
Robbie Metz, GW
Brandon Chapman, GW
Ryan Lowe, Davidson
Lee Miller, Davidson
Ryan Olmo, Rhode Island
Jordan Powell, Rhode Island
Steve Moyers, Rhode Island
Jojo Howie, VCU
Matt Davis, VCU
Walker Haymaker, VCU
Darian Carpenter, VCU

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Freshman Robbie Metz flies out in the first inning. Metz went 2-4 in GW's 2-1 loss to Davidson in the Atlantic 10 semifinals. Zach Montellaro | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Freshman Robbie Metz flies out in the first inning. Metz went 2-4 in GW’s 2-1 loss to Davidson in the Atlantic 10 semifinals. Zach Montellaro | Hatchet Staff Photographer

This post was written by senior staff writer Josh Solomon.

A slow heartbeat is the team’s philosophy. Resiliency is its motto.

It’s a philosophy for a team made up of mostly underclassmen, one of the youngest teams in the nation. As the season progressed, it remained relevant.

At times it looked like it would just be a saying. The team had lofty goals: win the conference championship and advance to the NCAA tournament and beyond to Omaha for the championship. The team bought into it early and started the season with their best record since 1983.

Then the Colonials (32-22) dropped their final four conference series of the regular season, but made the Atlantic 10 tournament as the sixth seeded team out of seven. GW lost its first game by three runs, but played on in the double elimination format.

Then they won two games. Then they had a chance to win their third elimination game in a row, up 1-0 with two outs in the bottom of the eighth against Davidson in the elimination semifinal game.

GW had missed opportunities to tack on here and there, but its freshman spot starter Brady Renner had been magnificent. With a runner on and the clean up hitter up to bat, the Long Island kid had already struck out 10. He was up two strikes on the Wildcat, who had struck a hard, looping foul ball in the at bat – showing the slightest sign of struggle.

Then the superhero story of a young team maturing in a conference tournament under the night lights of their home field came to a sudden end. It hung up in the air and it soared out of the ballpark. It, a two-run, go-ahead home run gave the Wildcats the lead for good.

It would end the Colonials’ season in a 2-1 loss Friday night, but resiliency was not lost in GW’s last chance in the ninth inning.

Freshman Brady Renner throws a pitch during GW's loss to Davidson. Renner worked into the eighth inning and exited the game with just two earned runs, but the Wildcats eliminated the Colonials 2-1.  Zach Montellaro | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Freshman Brady Renner throws a pitch during GW’s loss to Davidson. Renner worked into the eighth inning and exited the game with just two earned runs, but the Wildcats eliminated the Colonials 2-1. Zach Montellaro | Hatchet Staff Photographer

“They were resilient trying to come back again weren’t they?” head coach Gregg Ritchie said. “Just couldn’t quite get it done. I talked to the team that they were fantastic all year, a lot of growth, a lot of young boys growing into more mature men and playing this game they love as best they can.”

With two outs and two strikes, Kevin Mahala singled. Then Joey Bartosic singled. Then Eli Kashi fell behind two strikes to no balls. He fouled two pitches off in a row to stay alive, as he has done artfully all season long, watched a ball just miss to the chagrin of the Davidson faithful yelling behind him in the stands, checked his swing but held up, saw a breaking ball not bite enough to run the count full, called time in the box a few times in the game of cat-and-mouse within this high-pressure situation – one keen for a slow heartbeat – and then struck out at ball four in the dirt. Game over.

“I was excited. That’s like what you dream about, you know, come through in the ninth,” said the sophomore second baseman Kashi. “But it’s tough, it’s tough, it’s a tough way to lose.”

The final moment was magnified under the microscope of the near-capacity crowd at The Tuck, but GW couldn’t find the big hit despite several chances at the plate.

The Colonials scored their lone run in the third inning. Senior Ryan Xepoleas, a potential spark plug in any game where his bat showed up, led off the inning with a bunt base hit. Sophomore Bobby Campbell, batting in the eight-hole, chopped a ball to a leaping Davidson third baseman on a hit and run. Xepoleas moved to second. A couple batters later sophomore Joey Bartosic singled to shallow right, enough for Xepoleas to score.

For a while, the one run looked good enough. Renner worked a tightrope in the first couple innings, allowing runners into scoring position, but then settled down and had seven strikeouts through four innings. It wasn’t until his 113th pitch that the story changed for the young righty.

“It’s just like the other situations,” Renner said. “It’s a lack of focus, it’s just…I didn’t get the ball down. Mistake made.”

Richie could have brought in in the nation’s saves leader, sophomore Eddie Muhl, but Renner seemed to be rolling. Aside from a couple hard-hit foul balls, there were no signs of trouble and the Colonials were facing the possibility of playing two games Saturday.

The 30 wins will remain a landmark number for the ball club, as will be the team’s progress in the A-10 Championship. The team is still early in its rebuilding process, and the four graduating seniors, outfielder Ryan Xepoleas, lights out reliever Craig LeJeune, catcher and outfielder Xavier Parkmond and first baseman Brookes Townsend, leave with something to hang their hats on.

“You strive to reach your goal everyday,” Ritchie said. “That’s what continues to push you forward in anything you do, whether it’s get a degree, whether it’s get married, whether it’s have children, whether it’s play baseball and get a ring. When you don’t quite achieve what you’re pushing toward there is a disappointment. Like I said, at the same time, how you did and how you went about it, the forward moving progress, there’s a tremendous amount of joy.”

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With seven teams and 12 games in four days, the walkup music playlist at Tucker Field is getting a workout. One suggestion could be Johnny Nash’s “I Can See Clearly Now.”

Because, with the rain gone Friday morning in a game postponed from Thursday afternoon, the Colonials could see clearly. They gathered 11 hits and four walks against six Richmond pitchers in a 7-2 win to survive and move on in the Atlantic 10 championship.

Or, the guys running the PA system could try Taylor Swift’s “Better Than Revenge.” GW dealt some payback to the Spiders team that dealt them a 4-1 loss Wednesday in the tournament opener, a game in which the Colonials struck out six times and left nine men on base.

“We knew who we had to face. Our backs were against the wall so we knew we weren’t going to end this way, against a team we just lost to two days ago. So we knew we were going to come out and make a statement,” said first baseman Bobby Campbell, who collected three hits and one RBI during the game.

Every member of the starting lineup, save shortstop Kevin Mahala who had a rough day at the plate including a soft groundout that left the diamond loaded, reached base.

“I thought the guys came out right away and were aggressive and that was the big thing. We were looking to hunt fastballs early, lay off all the soft stuff and it paid off with our at bats and it kind of wore the guy down a little bit,” said head coach Gregg Ritchie.

Richmond starter Brendan McGuigan threw 73 pitches through five innings, giving up three runs, two earned, on six hits and two walks before being relieved by Keenan Bartlett.

Bartlett would record just one out. The Colonials entered the sixth with a 3-2 lead, but broke out to score four runs in the inning.

Sophomore Cody Bryant, inserted into the lineup in place of Colin Gibbons-Fly and batting ninth, knocked a one-out single to get things started. Freshman Mark Osis came in to pinch run for the slow third baseman. Sophomore left fielder Joey Bartosic hit into what should have been a fielder’s choice at second, but an error by the second baseman put Osis, who had the composure and instinct to know to run, at third and Bartosic at first.

“That was a big moment that actually sparked everything when Osis took third. It looks like a little thing, but it’s probably one of the bigger moments in the inning,” Ritchie said.

The speedy Bartosic then took second on a passed ball. Sophomore second baseman Eli Kashi dropped down a bunt and took first while Osis scored, rookie pitcher Robbie Metz followed with a single which scored Bartosic, and freshman catcher Brandon Chapman reached first to load the bases on a fly ball that was dropped by Richmond’s left fielder.

A five-pitch walk to sophomore right fielder Andrew Selby scored Kashi and got Bartlett yanked from the game for righty Dan Martinson. His first batter, Campbell, bunted in his direction. Bartlett scooped up the ball but couldn’t decide whether to toss it to first or to home and stood, looking back and forth down the first base line, as Metz crossed home plate and Campbell took first. He ended the inning two batters later, but the Colonials had a 7-2 lead.

“As a team we were all seeing it well, we were all feeling good and confident,” Campbell said.

The tough inning was a look at what might have been for GW. Metz got into a two-out, bases loaded jam in the third and was quickly relieved of his duties after walking in a run. He exited having given up two runs, both earned, on six hits and two walks.

But Metz’s relieving crew picked him up. Ritchie hadn’t planned to have Metz go past four innings on the mound in any case, so Luke Olson was ready to go and switch things up on the hill.

“It was a completely different look,” Ritchie said. “A guy [Metz] throwing mid, upper 80’s with a hammer straight down, located away, away, away and then all of a sudden a guy [Olson] who is big and long and slow, sweepy.”

Olson came in throwing strikes low in the zone and using his changeup and got out of the inning with a fielder’s choice grounder to limit the damage. He and Craig LeJeune quieted the big bats of Richmond, finishing out the game with 6.1 scoreless innings of relief. Each allowed just three hits and LeJeune struck out four.

“As teammates we love to pick each other up,” Olson said. “Just stay cool, calm, collected, it can’t be like any different game, it’s just like any regular season game. I just take it the same way.”

With the win, the Colonials move on to play the winner of the game between No. 1 seed Saint Louis and No. 4 seed Davidson Friday night at 8:30.

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