Photo: Carter Oswood
The Drake softball team expected a back-and-forth battle against Illinois State on Saturday night in Normal, Ill.
Illinois State countered Drake’s expectations with a series 2-0 rout, including game two’s 7-0 sweep, dropping the Bulldogs to 17-21 overall and 8-6 in the Missouri Valley Conference.
Senior infielder Torey Craddock opened Saturday’s game with an offensive statement, launching a solo home run in the first inning. Craddock leads Drake with six homers this season, ranking third in the MVC.
The Redbirds’ Laura Canopy leveled the scoreboard at 1-1 with an RBI double in the fourth inning.
With the fifth inning winding down, Illinois State hit offensive stride, scoring back-to-back runs for a 3-1 lead.
Freshman Hayley Nybo trimmed Drake’s deficit to 3-2 with a solo homer in the sixth inning, but the Redbirds completed game one with key defensive stops down the stretch.
Sophomore pitcher Jordan Gronewold allowed two runs in four innings, taking Saturday’s game one loss.
Nybo led Drake’s offense with a home run and one RBI, going 2-for-3.
After narrowly dropping game one, the Bulldogs aimed to even the series.
Illinois State had other plans.
The Redbirds used Elizabeth Kay’s first inning RBI double to notch a 2-0 advantage.
Nichelle Harrison couldn’t let Kay have all the fun, though. Harrison registered a bases loaded double of her own en route to a 4-0 Redbirds’ lead.
Kay added another RBI to plate another run in the sixth inning.
Illinois State clinched game two with a sacrifice fly in the fifth inning, sealing the Redbirds’ series victory.
Gronewold again took the loss, allowing six runs on four hits and four walks. Sophomore infielder Amy Pierce led Drake’s offense going 2-for-3 from the plate.
Drake returns to Ron Buel Field on Wednesday afternoon for a double-header against MVC rival Creighton.
The 9-3 Bluejays are just one berth above fourth place Drake.
Creighton leads the MVC in team batting with a .301 average. The Bluejays’ Amy Baker leads the MVC in RBIs with 41 this season.
Creighton’s Alexis Cantu also poses an offensive threat for Drake. Cantu’s 10 home runs rank first in the MVC.
Drake opens Wednesday’s double-header at 3 p.m. Game two is set for 5 p.m.