STORY BY ADAM ROGAN
Drake Softball traveled to Saint Charles, Louisiana to compete in the Cowgirl Classic this past weekend. They lost two of their three games, even though they outscored opponents 16 to 12 total.
The Bulldogs kicked off the tournament facing their hosts, the McNeese State Cowgirls on Friday evening.
McNeese State got off to an early lead, scoring one run off of senior Rebekah Schmidt in the bottom of the first inning, a deficit the Bulldogs would never overcome.
Schmidt struggled against the Cowgirls, surrendering six runs on six hits and walking five, a season high, along with seven strikeouts. Freshman Kailee Smith made her first appearance of the year on the mound as well, relieving Schmidt for the last two outs of the game.
The Bulldogs’ only run came in the top of the seventh and final inning, with senior Sarah Ryan plating sophomore Kaitlyn Finneran who had recorded a triple on the previous at-bat.
Drake rebounded quickly from the 6-1 loss, shutting out 12-0 Texas Tech, a Big-12 team, the following morning.
Two early runs got the Bulldogs off to a quick start.
Sophomore Megan Sowa picked up an RBI after freshman designated hitter Kelsey Wright led the game off with a double., followed by a solo home run for Senior Laura Brewer her first of the season.
The Bulldogs would go on to score another 10 runs on the day, including two runs from Tasha Alexander, another run from Wright, a second RBI by
Brewer and a two-run single from senior third baseman Hayley Nybo, bringing her total RBIs on the season to 13.
Brewer spoke to what she thinks the team needs to do, in order to keep getting big wins.
“I think just attacking every game and playing to our full potential,” Brewer said.
Freshman Nicole Newman, an early standout, took the mound with the early lead and kept it that way, not giving up a single run in 4 1/3 innings of work. She walked a career high six batters, but made up for it with a career-high nine strikeouts, a milestone that would last into the afternoon.
Smith came in as relief again, retiring the last two batters in succession to seal the mercy rule victory, the Bulldogs trouncing the Red Raiders 12-0 in five innings.
However, the momentum from the victory was not enough to begin a streak for Drake as they took on the University of Memphis Tigers for the final game of the tournament.
This last game was the most closely fought of the three, neither team scoring until the bottom of the fourth, Drake taking a 1-0 lead.
That lead didn’t last long, as Memphis scored three in the top of the fifth inning. The Tigers scored another three in the top of the sixth to take a commanding 6-1 lead.
Newman gave up five of those runs, but still managed to strike out 11. Even this early in her freshman campaign, Newman has seen the difference in competition as compared to high school softball.
“Being able to hit spots more now is a lot bigger than it was (in high school) so just working on that more,” Newman said.
Smith gave up the sixth run in relief, her first run of the season after appearing in three consecutive games, although it was unearned.
Smith felt similarly to Newman, both pitchers in their first seasons of collegiate play.
“It’s actually a lot different. The hitters have way better plate coverage so it’s way harder to pitch to them,” Smith said.
A two-run double from Ashlie Chambers gave the Bulldogs hope for a comeback, but no other runs would be scored in the game, Drake falling to 6-3 with a record of 7-7 one month into the season.
Their next competition will be the Colorado State University Spring Tournament next weekend in Fort Collins, Colorado.