Photo: File Photo
Over the weekend, the Drake softball team was in Tucson, Ariz., for the Hillenbrand Invitational. The team played five games total, going 1-1 last Friday, 1-1 last Saturday and dropping the final game yesterday.
On Friday, Drake played its first game against Kennesaw State, winning 7-5 behind the bat and arm of senior Jenna DeLong. DeLong pitched a seven-inning game, giving up five runs and striking out 11 batters. She also added a home run at the plate and finished 3-for-4 in the game.
“I realize this is my last season as a senior pitcher,” DeLong said. “I have to go out there and act like every game is my last forever. That makes it easier for me to find the motivation to focus on every pitch, regardless of the batter.”
DeLong gave up her first run of the season when the Owls tallied five runs in the sixth frame to tie the game. Sophomore Macie Silliman’s speed was the deciding factor in the seventh, when she singled and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt. Silliman raced to steal third base, and the catcher’s throw sailed up the left field line, allowing Silliman to score the deciding run.
In the second game of the day, senior pitcher Brynne Dordel took to the circle. She pitched a seven-inning game and only gave up two runs on five hits, but Drake lost the game 2-0 to Texas A&M Corpus Christi. Freshman Amy Pierce and senior Erin Mollohan recorded two hits apiece for the Bulldogs.
“In that second game, we had a hard time keeping the ball out of the air,” freshman Nicole Randel said. “That really made it hard for our offense to get going.”
DeLong said she isn’t losing any sleep about the offense having one bad game.
“I’m not too worried about our offense struggling more in the future,” DeLong said.
In Saturday’s first game, DeLong took the circle for the second time of the tournament. She tossed a complete game shutout and allowed just one hit, as the Bulldogs beat Pacific 8-0.
“Jenna is an absolutely amazing pitcher who is intimidating on the mound and throws with so much confidence,” Randel said. “Her leadership to the team is irreplaceable.”
DeLong homered again in the game, and Mollohan added another. Silliman led off the game with her first round-tripper of the year.
The Bulldogs weren’t as fortunate in their second Saturday game, losing a close game to nationally ranked No. 4 Arizona 5-3.
“We put up a great fight against Arizona today,” Randel said. “I’m really proud of the energy we brought to the game. We are hoping to get another shot at them in the future.”
Drake trailed 5-1 heading into the seventh, but refused to go down without a fight. After a single by Mollohan and a walk to DeLong, the Bulldogs benefitted from some errant Wildcat defense to add two more runs. But Drake did not have enough left in the tank to pull off a huge upset.
Drake completed the invitational on Sunday morning, taking on Kennesaw State in a rematch of its first game. The Bulldogs lost this time to the Owls, 6-3. Details from that game will be available in Thursday’s issue of The Times-Delphic.
“We need to continue to believe we have the talent to play with any team in the country,” DeLong said. “It’s about time somebody starts paying attention to us and taking Drake seriously.”