By Brian T. Chan, Sports Editor

Not expected to follow last season’s explosion on offense, the George Mason University baseball team has found ways to remain competitive despite being picked to finish sixth in the Colonial Athletic Association in the preseason poll.

The Patriots have belted a total of 30 home runs thus far, well short of their 82 home runs from last season, but the team has been a threat on the base paths, posting a .419 on-base percentage, leading to 336 total runs scored.

Senior Ryan Soares leads the conference with 23 doubles and is among the top three in batting average and RBIs.

Soares is one of the team leaders with six home runs in his solid final season. The team’s pitching leads the conference with a 4.79 ERA. Senior Kevin Crum is the ace of the staff with a 5-1 record and a 3.81 ERA. Redshirt freshman Chris O’Grady has filled in nicely in the rotation, leading the team with a 3.57 ERA. O’Grady, who garnered the CAA Rookie of the Week award recently, has a 3-0 record in his first season.

The softball team has overcome its shaky 1-5 start to the season with a couple of winning streaks. Mason finished last season with an abysmal 2-19 conference record, but they have surpassed that total with five conference wins in their first 15 games. The Patriots recorded wins against the conference’s top teams, including the defending champion James Madison Dukes and the second-place Georgia State Panthers. Mason picked up two impressive victories against the Towson Tigers.

In the midst of a playoff race, the pitching has been exceptional, starting with the ace, senior Becky Anderson. Already throwing a perfect game and six shutouts, Anderson ranks fifth in the CAA with a 1.56 ERA and has issued the fewest walks among all starting pitchers. The team is fifth in the conference with a 2.94 ERA. The offense has struggled at times, but the team’s use of small ball has helped them win six one-run ball games. Sophomore Katie Rynex has been a key addition, leading the Patriots with eight extra base-hits, seven of which are doubles.

Women’s Tennis
The women’s tennis team set a new milestone with 21 wins this season. After winning all seven matches in the fall season, the Patriots started the spring season with three losses. The team quickly responded with six wins in the next seven matches to improve to 13-4 by mid-March. Mason won its record-breaking 14th win on March 27 and soon started April with six consecutive wins. The Patriots ended their season in a tough first-round loss to the Drexel Dragons in the CAA Tournament.

Freshman Kiersten Pappas and junior Lindsay Gray were named to the All-CAA Third Team for doubles, while Pappas garnered third team honors in singles play. Pappas won a total of 17 matches, 14 of which came in the No. 1 slot.

Despite posting a 10-11 record at the No. 2 slot, Gray won 6-2 as the No. 1 singles player. Sophomore Brooke Blackwell was nearly unstoppable, winning 19 of 20 matches. Junior Aryn Christman led Mason with 21 wins in singles.

The Pappas/Gray doubles team posted a 12-4 record this season.

Men’s Tennis
The men’s tennis team entered the season with seven newcomers, six of whom were freshmen. Looking to develop from a young team, the Patriots started the season 3-3, but lost six of the next eight games shortly after.

Mason had a strong finish to close out the regular season, posting a 4-3 record in April. As the No. 9 seed in the CAA Tournament, the Patriots dropped 5-0 to the Drexel Dragons in the first round.

The Patriots had major contributions from the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 players. The top three singles players combined for a record of 38-36. Sophomore Jorge Osuna, who had a solid 10-9 record at the No. 2 slot last year, posted a 10-13 record as the top singles player.

Freshman Kevin McMillen also had a strong season, having an even 10-10 season. Primarily as the No. 3 singles player, freshman Patrick Mulquin led the team with 15 wins. He won all four of his matches at the No. 2 slot.

Women’s Lacrosse
The women’s lacrosse team has been unable to consistently win games since its strong 2008 season when the team finished 12-5 and received a national ranking in the Top 25. Last year, the team went through a drop-off, posting a 6-10 record; this year, they continue to spiral downward, winning just three games to go along with 13 losses.

Prior to the regular season finale against the James Madison Dukes, the Patriots wrapped up their home schedule with a tough 10-9 loss to the Old Dominion Monarchs, falling to 2-9 at home.

Despite their lost season, however, several players have emerged and provided a big impact. Junior Madalyn Jamison set the school record with 80 career assists in the Patriots’ final home game. Jamison has been Mason’s top player with 26 goals and 37 assists. She leads the CAA with 2.47 assists and 4.2 points per game. Sophomore Emily Ellisen, who had a tremendous rookie year with 26 goals, increased her scoring with a team-high 30 goals this season. Junior Chelsea Gamble has the team’s third-highest point total with 12 goals and 13 assists.

Men’s Track and Field
The men’s track and field team started its outdoor season with a bang, placing second at the Mason Quadrangular. In that event, the men’s team had five first-place finishes. In the other meet hosted by Mason, the same five team members qualified for the IC4A. Mason had a strong showing in the Raleigh Relays with nine Patriots qualifying for the IC4A. The team recently participated in the Penn Relays in Philadelphia.

Sophomore Rachaunn Ruffin had two IC4A-qualifying runs in the 100-meter and 200-meter dash, posting times of 10.45 seconds and 20.78 seconds, respectively.

Freshman David Verburg also qualified for the IC4A in both events after running the 100-meter dash in 10.76 seconds and the 200-meter dash in 21.65 seconds.

The 4×400-meter relay team of Verburg, sophomore Nick Vaughn, freshman George Empty, and sophomore Ja-Vell Bullard finished in a time of 3:09.40 in the Florida Relays last month. Junior Dwight Webley had the best score in the long jump event with a mark of 7.35 meters in the Mason Spring Invitational.

Men’s Volleyball
The men’s volleyball team started the season 3-2, but after hitting a four-game skid, the Patriots were unable to get back on the winning track, losing 10 of the next 11 matches. Prior to the quarterfinal win against the Rutgers-Newark Scarlet Raiders, the Patriots started coming together, picking up wins against the Saint Francis Red Flash and the Juniata Eagles. Mason battled closely with Penn State in their final regular season match before falling 3-1 on Senior Night.

Sophomore Lance Rogers garnered First Team All-Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association honors for his strong play this season. Rogers averaged 1.31 blocks per set, ranking 16th in the nation. He also tallied 152 total kills this season. Sophomore Andrew Dentler led the Patriots with 306 kills, an average of 4.43 per set.

In his first year as the team’s outside hitter, junior Eric Lucas recorded 2.04 kills per set and was among the team leaders with 14 service aces. Freshman Michael Kvidahl was part of the team’s strong recruiting class this year. Kvidahl was second on the team with 205 kills.

Women’s Track and Field
The women’s track and field team ranked fifth in their outdoor season opener at the Mason Quadrangular. Capturing three first-place finishes, the women’s team had three ECAC qualifiers.

Freshman Mandissa Marshall recorded a score of 3.8 meters in the pole vault event, and seniors Marie Fields and Tiara Swindell crossed the finish line first and second in the 200-meter dash to also record an ECAC-qualifying time.

In the Raleigh Relays, Swindell came in second with a time of 54.85 seconds in the 400-meter dash.The 4×400-meter relay had one of the best showings for Mason, placing fifth among 35 schools. The 1,600-meter sprint medley ranked second out of 23 teams.

Marshall cleared the bar with a score of 3.65 meters. Marshall was the only representative from the women’s team to compete in the prestigious Penn Relays. Her score of 3.86 meters was the sixth-highest mark in the pole vault event and her personal best.