By HANNAH COHEN
Drake softball is now first place in the MVC after sweeping Valparaiso this past weekend in three. The Bulldogs are the only conference team with only one conference loss and are looking to add to their 10 wins and 10-game winning streak in the Valley thus far. Drake also has the second-best overall conference record in the league at .649 percent and has played the most difficult teams out of the conference this season.
“It’s awesome [to be in first],” Taryn Pena, infielder, said. “We had a great weekend and our pitchers dominated like they have been so it feels good right now and we want to stay there to keep working hard and getting those wins.”
Nicole Newman, pitcher, took on both games in Saturday’s doubleheader earning a complete shutout. None of the Crusaders reached base in the first game, getting Newman her second-ever perfect game just a week after her first. She struck out the first seven Crusaders to begin the day and her work combined with Nicole Timmons, pitcher, ended in a no-hitter for Valpo. Newman didn’t allow Valparaiso to get a ball into play until at two-out grounder reached Sarah Maddox, infielder.
Only three balls total were given by Newman and her third of 12 strikeouts in the game surpassed her 1,000th career strikeout. She now leads the entire NCAA nation in K’s and has gotten 10 or more batters on strikeouts in six consecutive starts.
In the five innings before Drake mercy-ruled Valpo in the first game, the Bulldogs got eight hits, drew 10 walks, hit in all 10 runs and had 23 at-bats. Drake’s starting four Mandi Roemmich, infielder, Macy Johnson, outfielder, Kennedy Frank and Taryn Pena, infielders, went 5-for-8 and drove in nine of the 10 runs with nine walks and five runs themselves. Newman drove in the final run for Drake. Libby Ryan, infielder, and Melissa Schlotzhauer, outfielder, got the other three hits to support the offense.
The second game of the day went into the seventh scoreless for Drake to get the win by just one run in the top. Although the Bulldogs had runners on each inning and in scoring position in three, it wasn’t until the final at-bat that Abby Buie, outfielder, popped a deep sacrifice into center that got Schlotzhauer across the plate to secure the game-winning run.
“Offensively we put up some big scoring numbers and hitting numbers,” Pena said. “On top of our pitching this is what made plays happen.”
To relieve Timmons after giving off two consecutive walks, Newman came in the sixth and continued to hold Valpo to earn the second-straight win adding four more K’s to her record. Timmons had a scoreless game though and only hit one batter, walked those two and got five strikeouts.
Timmons took the plate again on Sunday’s game to add a 14-3 win to her record of 10-7. Each batter in this game got a hit to add to the total of 14 and the heat started right in the first inning when Maddox fired a double to left to score two. Maddox went 3-for-4 and equaled her career-high of five RBIs in this runaway match.
Another highlight of the six-run top of the first was the three-run homer by Laura Anderson, catcher, her first ever. Ryan also had a good day going 2-for-3 at the plate and earned her career high of three RBI.
Drake will be back on Buel Field for nine straight games these next two weeks. The first series is versus UNI who is currently second in the conference. Loyola will be visiting for three games this weekend starting Saturday, April 13 for a doubleheader set to start at 12 p.m.
“We’re excited for the next few weekends because we’re finally at home,” Pena said. “We can’t wait to get our crowd on our field.”