Photo: File photo
The Drake softball team is on a seven-game winning streak after beating the Bradley Braves last Sunday and Monday in Peoria, Ill. The winning streak puts Drake at 5-0 in the Missouri Valley Conference, beating Indiana State three times and now Bradley twice. Drake now stands at 16-11 overall on the season.
On Sunday, senior Jenna DeLong continued her incredible season by tossing a complete game in the circle and hitting a home run in her third straight game. DeLong’s win was her 10th on the season.
“Against Bradley, it seemed as if everyone took part in the victories,” DeLong said. “If players weren’t getting hits, they seemed to be making phenomenal plays in the field, so again, it was another team victory.”
Drake ended up winning the game 6-1, tallying 11 hits. Junior Torey Craddock had four of them, and senior Molly McClelland had two, including a two-run single to give Drake a 2-0 lead. One of the runs was scored by junior Jaimie Duffek.
“We put pressure on Bradley’s defense almost every inning by putting runners on base,” Duffek said. “Bradley made some mistakes, and we made sure to capitalize on those.”
DeLong gave up one run to Bradley in the fifth inning and responded the next inning with a home run at the plate for the last run of the game.
The next day, Drake and Bradley played a rematch in Drake’s fifth MVC game of the season. The second game ended with the same outcome, a Bulldog victory, but the score was closer. The Bulldogs won 3-2 behind pitching efforts from seniors Brynne Dordel, who earned the win, and DeLong, who closed it out.
Dordel earned the win in 5.1 innings, allowing two runs on five hits and striking out seven. DeLong came in for five straight outs to end the game, including three strikeouts. The winning streak has provided a lot of consistency, with solid hits from the entire lineup and stellar pitching from DeLong and Dordel.
“Consistency is what makes teams good and makes it possible for average teams to beat above average teams,” DeLong said. “If my teammates and I can continue to channel our energy into being consistent across the board, we are going to win a lot of games.”
Some of the solid play at the plate has come from Craddock this season, who went 2-for-3 on Monday against Bradley. Craddock currently has the team’s highest batting average at .344 and is also on a five-game hit streak.
All three of Drake’s runs were unearned, including Duffek scoring on a McClelland sacrifice fly in the third to tie the game at one.
“Our team needs to keep hitting the ball hard, making plays and giving it all we’ve got, and we’ll be fine,” Duffek said.
No other Drake team in history has started the MVC season at 5-0, and the team is tied for first out of 10 in the conference. Southern Illinois stands at 3-0 in MVC play, but has a better overall record. The seven-game win streak is also the longest of the season.
“I think everyone would agree it feels great to win,” Duffek said. “We know we can play with any team on any given day. We just have to keep the intensity level up.”