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Softball Sports

Kennesaw State bests Bulldogs in finale of Hillenbrand Invitational

Photo: File Photo

After starting the season 4-0, the Drake women’s softball team traveled to Tucson, Ariz., to participate in the Hillenbrand Invitational. The Bulldogs went 2-3 at the tournament, splitting two games with Kennesaw State, beating Pacific and losing to Texas A&M Corpus Christi and No. 4 Arizona.

“Overall, I think we had a great tournament performance while in Arizona,” sophomore Macie Silliman said. “The big difference in our losses was just a few swings of the bat. It’s nothing too big for us to handle and work on for upcoming games.”

Senior pitcher Jenna DeLong agrees.

“Our offense struggled, but I don’t see that happening very much to this team, so I’m not worried about it.”

In the team’s fourth game of the tournament, Drake took on the No. 4 team in the nation and put up a good fight, only to lose 5-3.

“We played right there with the Arizona team and that makes me and many others see how much potential we have to live up to during this season,” Silliman said. “We have 14 solid softball players on our roster, and on any given day the nine out there are going to perform.”

The Bulldogs’ final game of the invitational was their second of the weekend against Kennesaw State, losing 6-3 after beating them in their first game of the tournament 7-5. Drake was able to jump out to an early 3-0 lead after the top of the second inning. Senior Erin Mollohan and freshman Nicole Randel had RBI singles, and Silliman scored the third run on a double steal. But after a home run and a few big innings by Kennesaw State, the game ended with six unanswered Owl runs.

Drake will play Missouri in Columbia, Mo., next Wednesday and then head to Tulsa the next day for the Tulsa Invitational, where the team will play four games.

“For our future games we need to be more consistent with our bats and keep generating runs,” Silliman said. “We have great pitching that will keep us in the games, we just have to figure out how to manufacture runs to win the games.”

Some of the great pitching Silliman refers to is by DeLong, who has been named Missouri Valley Conference Pitcher of the Week for the past two weeks. DeLong went 2-0 at the Arizona Invitational, including a run-rule one-hitter against Pacific.

“It’s quite an honor to win any award, let alone the MVC Pitcher of the Week in back-to-back weeks,” DeLong said. “I wish the award was actually the MVC team of the week because that is an award my team would sweep all year long.”

Although the season is still young, Drake is doing all it can to become not only the best team in its conference but also a team that is respected across the nation.

“We have to keep looking at previous games and improve on our mistakes to constantly be more and more successful,” Silliman said.

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