By Brian T. Chan, Sports Editor

Alumni/Senior Weekend did not get off on the right foot for the George Mason University softball team as the Patriots dropped both games on Saturday against the Georgia State Panthers, falling in a tougher position as they fight for a spot in the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament.

The Panthers won the first game 3-0 and cruised in the second game, 6-0. Falling to 15-22 overall and 4-8 in conference play, Mason was shut out for the first time since April 3.

The Panthers, on the other hand, continued to create separation from the rest of the conference, improving to 31-14 on the year and 10-4 in the conference. Georgia State is second to the Hofstra Pride in the CAA standings.

Freshman right fielder Whitney Phillips started the Panthers’ scoring in the first inning with her third homerun of the season. The solo blast came with two outs. The Panthers scored two more runs in the third inning on a two-run triple from freshman center fielder Audrey Mason.

Mason scattered four hits in the seven innings while senior starting pitcher Becky Anderson limited the Panthers to five hits and three runs in her complete game. Anderson struck out five batters in the loss.

Anderson, who went 1-for-2 on offense in the first game, pitched the 90th collegiate game of her phenomenal career at Mason.

“She has been a real centerpiece of everything we have done over the last four years,” said Head Coach Joe Verbanic. “Obviously, being a No. 1 pitcher, she gets the ball a lot, but she also has swung the bat for us and played other defensive positions.”

Panthers freshman pitcher McCall Langford allowed just four hits without walking a batter in her complete game gem.

In the second game, the Patriots left a total of nine runners on base while the Panthers stranded five runners.

The Panthers loaded the bases in the top of the third inning, and with two outs, Mason lined a single into right-center field, bringing in two runs.

Georgia State started the scoring with three illegal pitches from Patriots sophomore starting pitcher Miranda Cranford, which cost the Patriots a run. Mason, who went 2-for-3 with four RBIs in the second game, connected on the pitch and gave the Panthers a 3-0 lead.

Mason came back in the bottom half of the inning with two two-out singles from sophomore second baseman Tori Dudley and sophomore center fielder Alyssa See, but the chance to bring home runs ended as sophomore shortstop Rachael Davies popped out to junior second baseman Rebecca Roles.

The Panthers put up another three-spot in the fifth inning as freshman third baseman Paige Nowacki recorded an RBI single, and Mason drove in two more runs to extend the lead to 6-0. All runs in the game came with two outs.

Panthers sophomore pitcher Alana Thomas tossed six innings, allowing four hits and striking out one batter. Sophomore pitcher Erin Collins came in the seventh inning and closed the door on the Patriots.

Cranford fell to 5-13 on the season after going 4-2/3 innings, allowing six runs on five hits. She struck out four batters and walked five.

As of Saturday night, fourth place remains up for grabs as the Drexel Dragons, Delaware Blue Hens, and James Madison Dukes vie for the last spot in the upcoming CAA Tournament.

The Patriots took a hit with the two losses, losing ground on the fourth place team. Despite the position, the team remains optimistic about the path of its future development.

“This team has a lot of heart,” said Verbanic. “[We] work extremely hard, and we’re closing the gap on this conference. I told [the team], ‘We’re dangerous, we are a dangerous team, and when we put it all together and play well, people need to look out.’”

Senior left fielder Kate Bustin, who recorded a hit in the second game, also played her final game on Sunday.

“I’m glad she has been with this program because she has helped us grow,” said Verbanic. “She had a good day [on Saturday]; she played some nice left field for us.”

Anderson and Bustin were honored before their last home conference game on Sunday.