Photo: Connor McCourtney
After Drake swept Northern Iowa in a doubleheader last Saturday afternoon, the big story of the game was Jenna DeLong. The senior registered 13 total strikeouts on the day, including one in the third inning of game one that gave her the all-time Drake strikeout record, No. 671 in her career. DeLong finished the day at 681 career strikeouts. Her performance helped boost the Bulldogs to two more wins in the Missouri Valley Conference. DeLong went the distance in game one, giving up two runs on six hits and ringing up 12 strikeouts. She came in for the seventh inning in game two, giving up one run on one hit.
The Bulldogs won both games 3-2 with runs in the seventh innings. Drake won the first game on a walk-off wild pitch. The second game provided some late inning drama that the Bulldogs have become used to this season. In the seventh inning, freshman Amy Pierce stepped to the plate with the bases loaded for the third time in the past three weeks. She smacked a single to center field to end the game.
“Both games were close, so to win close games like that always feels good and gives the team some confidence,” Pierce said.
Freshman Jordan Gronewold was in the circle for most of game two, tossing six innings and giving up one run on seven hits for the no-decision. Gronewold also registered two strikeouts. The sweep puts the Bulldogs at an MVC best 12-1 and 26-14 overall.
After Drake finishes up the three game series with UNI on Sunday, it will face Creighton for one game on the road on Wednesday. The team then hosts three games against Illinois State this weekend and then hosts Creighton next Tuesday.
UNI is fifth in the MVC at 7-7 heading into Sunday’s action, while Creighton and Illinois State stand at fourth and second, respectively. Drake has not faced either team yet this year.
“In order to continue being successful, we just have to take it one game at a time and stay confident in what we know the team can do,” Pierce said. “Losses are going to happen, but we just have to move on to the next game, and if we can do that I think we’ll be very successful.”
Before opening up the series against UNI, Drake faced nonconference foe Iowa State last Tuesday and Thursday. Drake lost both games, but was still able to take something away from them. The Cyclones bested the Bulldogs 8-6 last Thursday in Ames.
“Nonconference games really give us a chance to see good competition that we don’t regularly face,” Pierce said. “They also help us prepare for any close games down the road, which helped a lot today.”
Drake sported neon green jerseys against UNI to help raise awareness for Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The jerseys were also available for auction after the games, and all proceeds from the auction went to cancer research.