By Brian T. Chan, Sports Editor

Senior starting pitcher Jennifer Connell completed the Georgetown Hoyas’ pitching masterpiece, blanking the George Mason University softball team 4-0 in the second game of Wednesday’s doubleheader at the George Mason Softball Complex. The Hoyas mowed through Mason 12-0 in the first game.

With the sweep, the Hoyas improved to 12-16, while Mason lost its third consecutive game to fall to 8-13 on the season.

The Hoyas put on a hit clinic in the first game, totaling 12 runs and 15 hits, led by the team’s top four batters in the lineup.

Senior second baseman Kelsie Hanson logged in three hits while senior shortstop Samantha Peters, sophomore pitcher Mackensey Carter and freshman catcher Shikara Lowe recorded two hits apiece.

Georgetown jumped to a 5-0 lead before Mason could come to the plate. With two runners in scoring position in the first inning, Carter singled to right center to bring in both runners.

After tacking on another run to extend the lead to 3-0, sophomore pinch hitter Jillian Webb knocked in two more runs with a single.

That was all the Hoyas needed as Carter and junior pitcher Melissa Conners gave up a combined one hit and one walk in five innings.

Carter improved to 4-9 after pitching three innings, where she struck out four batters. Conners threw for two perfect innings, needing only two pitches.

Georgetown cashed in three runs in the third inning, two runs in the fourth and two more runs in the fifth.

Sophomore second baseman Tori Dudley registered Mason’s lone hit, a two-out single in the third inning.

Freshman starting pitcher Amanda Buffington took the loss for Mason, throwing a complete game, but giving up 15 hits on 12 runs. She was not helped by the defense’s four errors, leading to six unearned runs.

Sophomore pitcher Miranda Cranford took the hill in the second game, looking to redeem herself from the dismal outing against the James Madison Dukes last Sunday.

Cranford did not give up the big inning, but an error in the second inning led to two runs as Webb blooped a single between freshman second baseman Daria Siwczak and freshman right fielder Kristen Zimmerman.

Freshman pinch runner Lauren Boas Hayes and sophomore first baseman Cara Savarese scored on the play.

The Hoyas continued to put the game out of reach as they scored in the fourth inning on a seeing-eye single from junior right fielder McKinley Cooper and later scored as freshman pinch runner Kelly Cianciotta brought in the Hoyas’
fourth run with a single in the sixth inning.

The Hoyas were helped by their terrific pitching from Connell, who entered the game with 30 strikeouts on the season. Connell had a rate of 2.93 strikeouts per seven innings, but on Wednesday, Connell was the strikeout machine in her 12-strikeout performance.

Connell, who allowed just three hits in the game, struck out the side in both the second and third inning.

The closest the Patriots came to scoring was in the sixth inning when senior center fielder Kate Bustin led off with an infield single. Bustin, who made an outfield assist earlier, was the team’s only runner in scoring position, but Mason was unable to take advantage of the opportunity as Hoyas senior third baseman Demetria Cipriano made a diving stop and threw out sophomore pinch hitter Katie Rynex at first base to end the inning.

Freshman third baseman Jacqueline Harris, who made her first start, ended the game with a lineout.

“I was pumped, excited and nervous all at the same time,” said Harris.

In the opposing dugout, Hoyas Assistant Coach Erica Ayers returned to Fairfax after having served as an assistant coach for the Patriots for the past nine years.

“She’s a great young lady, and we’ve got a great friendship; I love her to death,” said Patriots Head Coach Joe Verbanic.

“It was exciting and fun to watch her win in a new place.”

Wednesday’s doubleheader marked the end of Mason’s 21-game homestand.

After winning four straight against the Morgan State Bears, the Patriots went on to lose six of the next seven games. With a young team, the Patriots continue to search for their identity.

“We’re a team that’s growing up at a highly competitive level in softball at the Division I level,” said Verbanic. “We’re trying to find our identity; I don’t know if we’ve found that yet. We’re trying and we’re playing real hard, but that’s the great question in what our identity is going to be.”

The team traveled to upstate New York to resume its conference schedule against the Hofstra Pride over the weekend.

Mason returns home for a five-game homestand, starting with a doubleheader against the Maryland Eastern Shore Hawks on Wednesday.

Mason hosts a three-game weekend series against the Towson Tigers.