By Brian T. Chan, Sports Editor

To follow a solid two-hit shutout from sophomore Miranda Cranford in the earlier game, senior starting pitcher Becky Anderson capped Saturday’s doubleheader with a perfect game, retiring all 15 batters in the George Mason University’s softball team’s 8-0 win against the Morgan State Bears.

The Patriots easily took the first game of the weekend’s four-game set, defeating the Bears 6-0. Moving closer to the .500 mark after starting the season 1-5, the Patriots improved to 5-7 overall with the sweep while the Bears dropped to 4-8.

On Saturday, the player sporting the number 4 on her jersey became the fourth pitcher in Mason history to reach perfection, the first since 2002. Anderson, who made her first start since March 9, struck out six batters and managed only one ball to leave the infield. With the perfect game, Anderson lowers her conference-best opponent’s batting average to .170.

“I felt like I didn’t have my stuff, but I still hit my spots; Kara [Weiner] was really framing the ball well,” said Anderson.

In the matinee game, Cranford went six innings, allowing two hits and striking out three batters; freshman Amanda Buffington, who had a team-best 2.00 ERA entering the game, pitched the seventh inning to wrap up Mason’s 6-0 win.

Sophomore shortstop Rachael Davies had a two-out double in the first inning and advanced to third on a fielding error on sophomore shortstop Lydia Walther-Rodriguez, and scored on an RBI double from sophomore first baseman Katie Rynex. The Patriots struck again with two more runs in the fourth inning as sophomore second baseman Alyssa See doubled to right center, and Davies added an RBI single for Mason’s third run of the game.

Mason essentially put the game out of reach, scoring three runs in the fifth inning. Freshman catcher Emily Lafferty knocked in her first career RBI, and freshman left fielder Reagan Doiron tallied her first career hit on a run-scoring single. Doiron later scored on a single from senior center fielder Kate Bustin.

Davies and Lafferty recorded two hits and an RBI apiece as Mason racked up 10 hits against the Bears’ junior starting pitcher Megan Johnson. All but one Mason starter recorded a hit.

In the second game, the Patriots attacked for three runs in the first inning. Junior catcher Kara Weiner hit a two-run single to right field to give Mason a comforting 3-0 lead.

In the third inning, the Patriots took advantage of several miscues from Morgan State and translated that into five runs. After Davies led off with a walk, she advanced to second base on a wild pitch from senior pitcher Porsche Boddicker, and later took third base on a passed ball.

While being untouchable on the mound, Anderson provided some offense with an opposite-field single, plating Davies in the process. Boddicker hit junior center fielder Stephanie Strother with a pitch to load the bases and walked freshman right fielder Daria Siwczak to force in a run.

Doiron grounded to the second baseman, who tried to throw to home, but Weiner slid in safely to extend Mason’s lead to 6-0. See followed with an RBI groundout, and freshman third baseman Megan Blank added Mason’s eighth run with an infield single.

In the fifth inning, Anderson induced three groundouts to give Mason its first back-to-back wins in the 2010 season.

“In both games, we played hard,” said Anderson. “We definitely learned how to finish the games because in other games, we’ve fallen apart, so we just kept it together and played well defensively and got the hits in.”

While Mason remains under .500, the team has played in a number of close games. Of the 10 games played prior to Saturday, the Patriots lost four of the six one-run games.­­­ Nevertheless, the pitching continues to thrive from the rotation of Anderson, Cranford and Buffington. The Patriots entered the day leading the Colonial Athletic Association with a 2.16 team ERA. With the two shutouts on Saturday, Mason was able to lower that to 1.84.

“I hope we gain the confidence because earlier in the season, we haven’t really pitched as well as we are capable of, so it really helps boost our confidence knowing that we can shut [our opponents] down,” said Anderson.

The Patriots look to complement their strong pitching with a solid offense. The team has struggled to produce runs, averaging just 3.1 runs in the first 10 games, but on Saturday, Mason managed to score 14 runs in their two games.

Davies, who led the team last year with 36 hits and 24 RBIs, has been a huge impact on the offense, leading the CAA with a .448 batting average entering Saturday’s doubleheader. Davies raised her average to .471 after going for a combined 3-for-5.

“I’ve just been working really hard,” said Davies. “My goal is to hit RBIs and bring in runners whenever we have them in scoring position.”

The Patriots will continue with their 20-game homestand as they take on the Howard University Bison on Wednesday at 4 p.m. at George Mason Field before playing host to the defending conference champion James Madison Dukes in the weekend series. The first pitch is scheduled at noon on Saturday and will be followed by the second game at 2 p.m.

“We just want to play good softball,” said Davies. “I would like to sweep them, but I think it will be a good game, and if we play our game, I think we can achieve a lot.”