GW softball knocks off St. Albans

The second meeting between George Washington and St. Albans wasn’t much like the first, but it did end in the same result — a GW win.

And now, the Patriots would seem to have the inside track on the No. 1 seed in Class AAA Region 3 Section 1.

GW (11-6), which found its offense slowly but surely against the Red Dragons and pitcher Jaden Wills in a 5-1 win at St. Albans on April 3, wasted no time on Tuesday, scoring four runs in the first inning en route to an 8-0 win via five-inning mercy rule at home.

Grace Smith’s effectiveness in the circle was the one common thread as she threw 4 1/3 scoreless innings before being spelled for the final two outs by Briana McCown Tuesday.

Smith struck out four, but was buoyed by early and constant offense as GW slowly pulled away.

“Just being aggressive,” said GW coach Kim Darby. “We went to the beach tournament and they got some good, quality games in down there and got some confidence down there, they’re playing good right now. When we’re not aggressive that’s when we struggle.”

The Patriots went 2-3 at Myrtle Beach and saw a couple of Division I commits in the circle.

“Just seeing that good pitching and bringing it back to here, that’s been big for us,” Darby added.

McCown, who has been nursing a nagging knee injury, threw her first pitches in nearly a week for GW, yielding a hit and striking out one in her 2/3 innings of work.

But while McCown is fighting through some pain, the injury bug took a big bite out of St. Albans as first baseman Britney Sharp broke her ankle during a doubleheader against Greenbrier East on Saturday.

The Red Dragons (12-8) won both games against a regional foe, but lost a junior leader who’d driven in 15 and doubled four times on the year.

“Saturday the girls really responded well when it happened, it was just a very unfortunate play,” SA coach Christian Watts said. “That game she was 3 for 4 with five RBIs and we tried to stretch an extra-base hit there. But the girls were upbeat Saturday, we had two good come-from-behind victories there.

“It’s tough to adjust but Leeah [Scott] has done a good job there and I have no doubts with her on first.”

In a four-team section that also includes South Charleston and Capital, a pair of teams that have struggled so far a bit, SA and GW figure to have the top two seeds locked up and now the Patriots own a series sweep of the Red Dragons as well.

GW also picked up a 5-0 win over Riverside on Monday, a team that resides in Region 3 Section 2 along with East, Woodrow Wilson and Princeton. The Warriors defeated the Patriots in a one-run game earlier in the year.

“It gives us some confidence,” Darby said. “I keep telling them everyone is getting better, just as we are. Every game. Just because we did get these wins against these teams doesn’t mean it’s going to be the same come tournament time. Everybody brings their ‘A’ game.”

Smith also flourished at the plate on Tuesday, going 3 for 3 with a double. Emma Groe went 2 for 3 with an RBI double for GW, while Jordan Bell finished 2 for 3. Riley Whiting had a two-run single to punctuate the first inning.

Julia Vancamp led the game off with a double to right-centerfield for SA but was thrown out after stopping between second and third base, setting a dubious tone for the Red Dragons. Kinsey Hudson singled in each of her at-bats for St. Albans.

Contact Ryan Pritt at 304-348-7948 or ryan.pritt@wvgazettemail.com. Follow him on Twitter @rpritt.

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