Marked by jitters and excitement, the Drake softball team was ready to start the Big Four Classic last Saturday.
“I was excited to play,” sophomore Jordan Gronewold said. “Ready to get out there.”
Freshmen Hayley Nybo and Laura Brewer enjoyed a leisurely night of teammate bonding before the team’s first duel against Iowa.
“We had fun,” Brewer said. “We watched a movie.”
Drake took to the field at Saturday’s Big Four Classic to face Iowa. Festive accessories and quality defense weren’t enough to push the Bulldogs past the Hawkeyes, though, and the game ended in a 1-0 Drake loss in eight innings.
Characterized by quick turns at bat for both teams, Iowa recorded the game’s first hit in the first inning, unmatched by Drake until the fourth inning when freshman catcher Zeah Peterson sent the ball past two Iowa defenders. Peterson’s offensive effort was met by yet another quick out, and the Bulldogs were back on defense.
Following a hitless fifth inning by both teams, Bulldog sophomore Amy Pierce hit a double into left-center field to start the sixth inning. The offensive push was yet again thwarted by two quick outs from the Hawkeyes.
Both teams recorded hits in the seventh inning with Iowa’s Katie Keim earning a hit followed by a similar effort from Drake junior Lindsey Vande Wall.
After seven innings of few offensive opportunities and immense defensive efforts, the teams moved to extra innings. Iowa’s Brittanee Grove put the Hawkeyes on the scoreboard with a hit deep into the outfield in the eighth inning, forcing Drake to score in its final at-bat to keep the game alive.
The Bulldogs took to home plate hopeful to match Iowa’s run. Their hopes were dashed by the Iowa defense once again, and Drake’s final at-bat ended quickly.
The Big Four Classic, played at Drake once every four years, made the day particularly memorable for Nybo because it is her first tournament on the team. Nybo is also excited to play different teams and experience the opponents her team will face this coming season and in coming seasons.
The Bulldogs look to build on last Saturday’s performance with hopes of improving their offense.
“We played really good defense,” the third-baseman Nybo said. “We just need to play good defense and good offense.”
Moving forward is also on the minds of returning players like Gronewold, who said that Drake will “surprise people” this season. Also critical for the Bulldogs this season is team leadership. Gronewold expects the seniors and all of the upperclassmen to step up and lead by experience.
The Bulldogs wrapped up the Big Four Classic yesterday against Northern Iowa and Iowa State. Drake takes on Indian Hills and Kirkwood at the Paul Morrison Invitational on Oct. 9.