BY MICHAEL BRYNDA
The Drake University softball team completed a three game sweep of the Indiana State Sycamores, giving them their first three wins of the Missouri Valley Conference season.
The Bulldogs lost their first six meetings against conference foes, but look to be back on track after last weekend’s performance.
In game one of the series, junior Kailee Smith tossed her first career complete game shutout in a 5-0 victory.
This impressive pitching performance certainly set the tone for the remainder of the weekend games.
It was more of the same in game two, but this time freshman Abby Buie got her first starting nod since high school
“The team is down a pitcher, so I stepped up to help out the team,” Buie said.
The team’s ace Nicole Newman started the season 7-3 with a 1.27 ERA, but hasn’t played in almost two months due to an injury.
Buie threw 3.1 scoreless innings in which she only allowed three hits and one walk.
Smith was given a well-deserved rest at the start of game two before entering in the fourth inning and holding the shutout for the remainder of the game.
Another 5-0 victory capped off a two-win day for the Bulldogs.
With the series already won, the Bulldogs entered Sunday with a chance to sweep their conference opponents.
The game was scoreless after the first two and a half innings before Buie crushed a high and inside fastball over the wall for a two-run homer.
Senior Megan Sowa drove in another run on the inning with an RBI double off the wall.
The Sycamores were able to get back into the game and put up their first runs of the weekend in the top of the top of the fifth.
This would be Smith’s only non-goose egg inning in nearly 18 frames over the three game set, although none of the runs were earned as a result of a few errors.
The game entered the final inning still knotted up at three.
Smith retired the Sycamores in the top half of the inning to set up a walk-off scenario.
After two quick pop-outs in the bottom of the seventh, extra innings were looming when freshman shortstop Mandi Roemich smacked a single into left field. She stole second base to put herself in scoring position.
With a hitter’s count Sowa ripped a 3-1 pitch into right field to drive in Roemmich and clinch the game and the sweep for the Bulldogs.
“Coming off of two weekends where we weren’t able to pull out the wins, it was really awesome to finally get that sweep,” Sowa said.
She also noted that this weekend will build confidence moving towards the future.
The star of the weekend was Kailee Smith who pitched 17 and two thirds innings allowing only 15 hits, three walks, and three runs (0 earned).
She was named MVC pithcer of the week for the first time in her career.
“My pitching was good, but it was a total team effort. I couldn’t have done it without my team behind me,” Smith said.
It was a great weekend for the Bulldogs as they won the first two games with pitching and the third with clutch hitting.
They look to keep this momentum going when they host the Iowa Hawkeyes tonight and the Evansville Purple Aces for a three-game series over the weekend.