The Drake softball team has been warming up in preseason play since the beginning of February. Thus far, they are ranked 3rd overall in the Missouri Valley Conference preseason play with a record of 12-5. The Bulldogs’ latest outing at the Mardi Gras Classic gave them five wins and one loss.
Drake faced off against Bowling Green and then Louisiana in the first day of the series.
Pitcher Kaylee Smith started off the action from the mound. She ultimately led the team to the 4-1 victory: both in terms of pitching and scoring.
Smith had eight strikeouts, her most of the young 2017 season, and allowed one run on five hits. She also contributed a home run — the team’s only hit on the day —in the third inning that garnered three RBIs. She added a sac-fly in the fifth inning that gave the Bulldogs the 4-1 victory.
The second game of the day gave the Bulldogs their only loss of the series.
Drake’s ace-pitcher Nicole Newman was matched up against Louisiana’s freshman Alyssa Denham. A move that, initially, seemed strange considering Newman was named the 2016 MVC Pitcher of the Year.
However, Louisiana was successful, behind pitching from the young Denham, in keeping the Bulldogs at bay. Although the Bulldogs were able to get two hits in the second inning, it was the Ragin’ Cajun’s who finally broke the seal on scoring with three runs on two hits in the third inning.
The Bulldogs were unable to shift momentum on Louisiana. Newman was replaced by Aryka Knoche in the fifth inning, but it was not enough.
Knoche gave up two runs on walks during the sixth. Despite the hitting spurt the Bulldogs found in the bottom of the inning, scoring three runs on five hits, that velocity would not extend past the bottom of the sixth.
Drake fell to Louisiana 9-3.
The following day opened up with a game against Dartmouth, a back-and-forth affair that stretched over 10 innings.
This was followed by a game against Maryland that gave the Bulldogs a shutout-win. Smith and Newman split up pitching duties for the whole day with Smith going nine total innings and Newman going seven.
The Bulldogs were finally able to take the win over Dartmouth on a single to left from outfielder Megan Sowa that drove in a RBI.
In the first inning against Maryland, a home run from infielder Tasha Alexander put the Bulldogs ahead by two. Maryland was held scoreless, despite recording five hits.
The Bulldogs faced Bowling Green once again on the final day of the tournament and won in five innings
The story of the final day is the game against Mississippi Valley State, which went six innings with a score of 10-9. Drake ultimately won, with the game being called early so the Bulldogs wouldn’t miss their flight home.
Mississippi Valley pulled ahead in a big, five-run second inning. The Bulldogs didn’t let it go unanswered and responded with a big inning in the fifth, where they were able to drive home four runs.
After being voted as favorites to win the MVC championship this year, the Bulldogs seem tenacious in trying to prove they are worthy of that title and have seemingly been successful.
MVC play begins March 18, but before that Drake will head out of town for two more tournaments.