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Softball Sports

Drake, Illinois State continue to battle for top spot in MVC

Photo: Connor McCourtney

Heading into last week, the Drake softball team was in first place in the Missouri Valley Conference. After falling to Illinois State and Creighton in back-to-back games at home, Drake is now in second place, trailing Illinois State by a half game in the standings. Drake followed the losses with wins against Missouri State to put its record at 32-18 on the season and 18-4 in the Valley.

“We have been trying to regain a little confidence after losing to Illinois State,” freshman Amy Pierce said. “But I think we feel good about where we are heading into the MVC tournament.”

The second loss to Illinois State came in a rubber match of a three-game set at Buel Field. Senior Jenna DeLong, who has been unstoppable all season, gave up five runs on seven hits for her first MVC loss of the season. The Bulldogs ended up falling 5-2.

Drake was back in action four days later against the Creighton Bluejays, who stand at fifth in the conference. While the Bulldogs have pulled out some exciting games in the late innings this season, this one did not go their way. Drake loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh trailing 2-1, but the Bulldogs left three runners stranded and were unable to convert. Senior Brynne Dordel tossed 1.2 innings and struck out three to move into a second-place tie on Drake’s all-time strikeout list.

After a three-day break, the Bulldogs took the diamond to face the Missouri State Bears on the road for a three-game series. The Bulldogs swept the Bears, winning the first two games 2-1. In the final game last Saturday, DeLong won her 20th game of the season, becoming the second pitcher in Bulldog history to accomplish the feat.

Drake has three more games on the road against Southern Illinois this weekend before beginning the State Farm MVC Tournament in Springfield, Mo.

“We need to go into the tournament playing hard all the time,” Pierce said, also noting that the team will need to keep its cool mentally. “Once you start playing the game at a higher level, the mental side of the game becomes more important.”

If Drake wins the rest of its games, it will go into the tournament as either the first or second seed, depending on what Illinois State does in its final games. The Redbirds close the regular season with a three-game set at Creighton.


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