Story by Austin Cannon
The Drake softball team was finally able to kick-start its offense this weekend, grabbing its first two wins of the year at the Diamond Devil Invitational in Tempe, Ariz.
Drake went 2-3 on the weekend, making its overall record at 2-13.
“I don’t think any of us were too worked up about not having won yet. We’ve had some tough scheduled games, but wins are good. Wins feel good,” said junior outfielder Hayley Nybo.
The Bulldogs won their opening game of the tournament, beating Idaho State, 12-4.
Down 1-0 after the first, Drake was able to answer with five runs in the second, highlighted by a leadoff solo jack from senior Nicole Randel and a two-RBI double from senior shortstop Amy Pierce.
The Bulldogs padded their lead by adding one in the third, one in the fourth, two in the fifth and three in the seventh.
The 12 runs were more than Drake had scored in its previous games combined.
“I thought we did a lot better this weekend than the past two weekends. I think we hit a lot better than we have been,” said freshman outfielder Megan Sowa.
Junior Rebekah Schmidt worked around six Bulldog errors in a complete game to earn her first win of the season.
The Bulldogs played Boston College in the second game and fell to the Eagles, 11-8.
It certainly looked promising early.
Drake was able to take a 7-0 lead in the second inning as Senior Liz Buck, Nybo and Pierce all collected RBI hits.
However, Boston College was able to climb out of the seven-run hole.
In the seventh, down 8-6, the Eagles were able to tie it with an RBI fielder’s choice followed by an RBI single off Schmidt.
Schmidt, pitching her second-straight complete game then gave up a three-run shot to Tatiana Cortez that made the difference.
On Saturday, Drake was able to make up an early two-run deficit and defeat Seton Hall, 6-4. The afternoon brought a rematch with Boston College, but Drake came up short again, 8-4.
Against the Pirates, Drake was able to tie the game at 2-2 with a two-run fourth.
The Bulldogs kept the pressure on in the fifth.
Senior Jordan Gronewold scored on an illegal pitch to give Drake a 3-2 lead. Sowa then knocked in junior Sarah Ryan, and freshman Kaitlyn Finneran drove in Sowa with a double to extend the lead to 5-2.
Schmidt, who went the distance for the third-straight game, gave up a two-run homer in the bottom half, but an insurance run in the seventh helped preserve the 6-4 Drake win.
Once again, Drake took an early lead over BC.
The Bulldogs jumped out to an early three-run lead in the first off RBI hits from Nybo and Sowa.
Schmidt got the start yet again. Sophomore Mariah McKinnon replaced her in the third, Drake holding a 4-2 lead.
McKinnon lasted only an inning, giving up four runs. Schmidt reentered the game to toss the final four innings and gave up two more runs.
The host Arizona State played Drake on Sunday. The No. 4 Sun Devils brushed aside the Bulldogs in six innings, 9-1.
The Sun Devils’ attack was paced by two big home runs off Schmidt, a two-run shot from Chelsea Gonzales in the second and a three-run blast in the fifth from Katie Aguirre.
The Bulldogs’ lone run came in the sixth when Nybo’s sacrifice fly to right drove in Ryan.
Schmidt threw 32 and two-thirds innings for the tournament, all but one the Bulldogs played.
“I think it was more mentally draining than it was physically draining,” Schmidt said.
Drake travels to Fayetteville, Ark., tomorrow for the Woo Pig Fastpitch Classic. Its first game against Louisiana Tech is at 12:30 p.m.