The Drake softball team wrapped up its fall season in convincing fashion on Sunday, defeating Kirkwood and Indian Hills in the three-team Paul Morrison Invitational at Ron Buel Field.
The Bulldogs defeated Kirkwood 10-1 and then smashed Indian Hills 17-0 in the doubleheader.
In the opener, Drake exploded for 10 runs with two outs in the fourth inning.
Sophomore Jordan Gronewold pitched 10 combined innings and earned the wins in both contests. She also added a three-run double against Indian Hills.
The two victories wrapped up the one-month fall season for the Bulldogs. The highlight of the season for Drake was a 9-0 win over Iowa State at Ron Buel Field on Sept. 25, the team’s lone triumph in the Big Four Classic.
“The fall was a good tool for us,” Gronewold said. “It showed us where we’re at now and how we need to prepare for spring.”
Next spring will mark a new chapter for Drake softball, as the Bulldogs will have to replace the production of some of the best players in school history.
It starts with Gronewold. The Carlisle, Iowa, native will anchor a pitching staff that does not have Jenna DeLong or Brynne Dordel for the first time in four years. DeLong and Dordel are first and second, respectively, on the school’s all-time strikeout list. The duo played its final season last spring before graduating.
“I have to take what they taught me last year and hopefully do just as good,” Gronewold said. “They taught me good leadership qualities.”
Another new face for the Bulldogs is behind the plate. Talented freshmen Hayley Nybo and Zeah Peterson step in to fill the post. The role had been occupied by Erin Mollohan, who tied for the team lead in home runs last season (10) and was second in runs batted in (33).
Nybo had two-run triple in the second against Indian Hills on Sunday. Gronewold said the new battery made plenty of progress this fall.
“It’s definitely a learning process,” Gronewold said. “It’s all about learning the ropes. It’s a completely different level (of softball).”
Junior Lindsey Vande Wall crushed a three-run home run to right field in the first inning to start the offensive onslaught against Indian Hills. Senior Sam West, who played for the first time this fall in the opener of the doubleheader, had a run-scoring bloop single in the third inning against Indian Hills.
Plenty of new faces fill the Drake dugout, and they hope to carry on the winning tradition that is Bulldog softball.
“The freshmen have done a great job,” Gronewold said. “We’re going to miss the seniors. They were a great group, but the new players have been good.”
The invitational on Sunday was named in honor of Drake’s legendary historian, Paul Morrison.
Gronewold said she can’t wait for the competition that the spring season brings.
“I look forward to travelling with the team and making memories,” she added.
Drake opens up the spring season at the UNI-Dome Tournament in Cedar Falls, Iowa, on Feb. 10-12.