The Drake softball team swept Evansville 3-0 last weekend in Evansville, Ind., improving the Bulldogs to 23-27 overall and 14-10 in the Missouri Valley Conference.
Drake opened game one with a defensive statement thanks to sophomore pitcher Jordan Gronewold.
Gronewold threw a four-hit shutout with two strikeouts, allowing only one walk en route to Drake’s 2-0 victory.
Gronewold’s statement wasn’t limited to Drake’s defense, though. She launched her third home run of the season in the second inning.
Sophomore infielder Amy Pierce registered Drake’s second run. After an errant throw by Evansville catcher Halie Malone, Pierce and senior infielder Torey Craddock’s double steal attempt plated Pierce, extending Drake’s lead to 2-0.
Junior Macie Silliman, sophomore Liz Buck and sophomore Nicole Randel each registered a hit in game one.
Freshman pitcher Rebekah Schmidt started game two. She pitched seven innings and allowed only one unearned run and one hit. Schmidt struck out nine, improving her record to 6-8 this season.
Drake used five Evansville errors to complete game two’s 6-1 win.
The Bulldogs capped Saturday’s performance with Sunday’s 7-3 victory.
Schmidt again directed Drake, pitching seven innings and striking out nine.
Drake scored seven runs on 11 hits compared to Evansville’s three runs on six hits.
Three sophomores guided Drake’s offensive efforts.
Randel collected one run and one RBI to lead all hitters.
Buck notched one run on 2-for-4 hitting.
Pierce registered two stolen bases and two RBI.
For Schmidt, last weekend’s series displayed Drake’s improved offense.
“I think we’ve really improved with our hitting,” she said. “A lot of times at the beginning of the season, we would lose and have zero runs a lot, and I think we’ve put up a fight a lot more.”
Drake awaits Wichita State on Saturday and despite the Shockers’ No. 8 MVC standing, Schmidt expects a battle.
“I’m expecting them to really put up a fight,” she said. “They are technically at the bottom right now, but they’re on the edge of getting into the tournament, so they’re going to be putting it all in. This is it for them. If they lose, they’re out of the tournament.”
This weekend’s series is equally critical for No. 5 Drake entering the May 10-12 State Farm MVC Championship, Schmidt said.
“I’d really like for us to go in with momentum just because we’ve played everyone, we’ve seen everyone, and I think if we can just go in with great confidence and great momentum, it will be really good for us,” she said. “Anyone can really beat anyone.”
Although powerhouses like Northern Iowa and Illinois State loom in Drake’s future, one goal tops Craddock’s MVC tournament to-do list.
“Getting past the first game,” she said. “I think since we’re a pretty young team, we’re going to have a lot of nerves and expectations, and I think if we get past that first one, we’ll be good.”
Drake takes on Wichita State at 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturday at Ron Buel Field. Sunday’s game is set for 12 p.m.