STORY BY MICHAEL WENDLANDT
Drake continued their hot streak on the diamond, sweeping four games over the past week against the University of Iowa State and Southern Illinois University in two away matches.
The team was paced by pitcher Rebekah Schmidt, who also earned Missouri Valley Pitcher of the Week for the second week in a row and third time of the season. Over the week, she picked up 13 strikeouts over 16 innings and allowed only 3 earned runs while picking up three wins.
The Bulldogs remain at the top of the conference, now with a record of 24-12 and 13-2 in the conference. The sweep over Southern Illinois was their third sweep of the season to date.
“It’s been a great time so far this year,” pitcher Nicole Newman said. “We’re winning a lot of games.”
The week started on Wednesday in Ames as the Bulldogs took care of in-state rival Iowa State, winning 6-3. Schmidt was on the mound for the game, who allowed one run in four and a third innings before being relieved by Newman, who picked up her second save of her freshman season.
Hayley Nybo also had a big game, going three for four with two doubles and driving in one run. Megan Sowa and Laura Brewer also had huge days at the plate, each picking up a home run. After two runs in the opening inning, the Bulldogs never looked back.
After a few days of practice, the Bulldogs headed to Carbondale on Saturday to face the Southern Illinois Salukis in a doubleheader, sweeping both games. In game one, the offense struggled from the outset, being held to just one hit through the first six innings, trailing 2-0.
With their backs against the wall in the top of the seventh, the Bulldogs came back with a vengeance. Nybo had drawn a walk, which gave Schmidt the opportunity to tie the game at the plate when she hit the ball out of the park.
Two batters later Tasha Alexander won the game with a solo homer, giving the Bulldogs a 3-2 lead. Schmidt picked up the win and a complete game while striking out five Salukis.
“We struggled in the first few innings, but we had two girls come up and hit one out in the seventh and we were able to take the game,” Sowa said.
In game two, the Bulldogs had a much easier time. Nybo continued her great day, driving in the first run of the game on a double in the first inning before Kelsey Wright smoked a two-run triple in the next inning to give the Bulldogs a 3-0 lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
In the fifth, Brewer smoked a solo homer to give Drake their fourth run and Newman went the distance on the mound, allowing only one run in the seventh inning on two hits and struck out eleven batters, tying her career high.
Drake completed their sweep on Sunday, demolishing the Salukis 11-0 by mercy rule in five innings. Schmidt led the way, striking out seven of the 20 batters she faced to pick up her third win of the week.
“It’s great to be on a run like this,” outfielder Sarah Ryan said. “We have two great pitchers who make it pretty easy for us in the field.”
Sunday’s shutout capped off a six-game win streak for the Bulldogs, their longest of the season so far.
Wright also led the game off with a homer and the team never looked back, pouring in the runs while stifling the Salukis offense.
Sophomore third baseman Kaitlyn Finneran led the way at the plate, driving six runs on the game, including a grand slam in the final inning, which gives her 13 RBIs on the season. For Drake, patience was truly a virtue as they drew a season high 13 walks and only needed seven hits.
For Schmidt, the win Sunday gave her 51 in her career, tying her for fifth in team history.
Drake plays a three game series against Indiana State over the weekend.