After a strong showing at the Big Four Classic this past weekend, the Drake softball team will face Division II powerhouse Minnesota State, Mankato on Sunday at Ron Buel Field.
Sophomore utility Hayley Nybo, a Minnesota native, anticipates a dangerous Mavericks squad.
“I’m actually from Minnesota, so I know lots of the girls who are playing, and they’re really good,” Nybo said. “They’re a Division II team, but they always go to the national tournament every year.”
Despite a young roster, the Mavericks’ sophomore Lindsay Erickson boasted a team-high 11 home runs and a .429 batting average last season. Junior Kelly Wood registered a .316 batting average and nine home runs.
Like Nybo, junior pitcher Jordan Gronewold expects a tough Mavericks team.
“I have high expectations,” Gronewold said.
Improving offensively is key for Drake against Minnesota State’s versatile offense.
“We had a few base running errors in the Big Four Classic, so we’re looking to keep those errors down,” Gronewold said.
Drake finished 2-1 at the Big Four Classic this past weekend, defeating in-state rivals Iowa and Northern Iowa, but falling to Iowa State.
The Bulldogs topped Iowa 3-1 on Saturday, before falling to Iowa State on Sunday, 1-11. Drake completed the Big Four Classic with an 8-1 victory over Northern Iowa on Sunday.
With four games left, finishing strong tops Drake’s to-do list.
“We started strong, so we want to finish strong,” Nybo said.
The Bulldogs will close fall competition with a double-header versus William Penn on Oct. 7 at Ron Buel Field.
Although fall competition ends on Oct. 7, the Bulldogs are already eyeing spring success.
“The fall season situates us for spring play,” Gronewold said. “It lets us gel with each other and lets us be outside before we have to practice inside for the entire winter.”
Drake takes on Minnesota State, Mankato at 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturday at Ron Buel Field.