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Drake softball mid-season recap: record fails to tell whole story

Softball supplies. Bulldogs Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The Drake softball team has been a team that has fought tooth and nail for every run that comes across home plate. However, like many teams in the Missouri Valley Conference, the record of this team is not indicative of their ability to grind out tough wins and compete. 

The Bulldogs are 1-8 in conference play this season, but their schedule has been arguably one of the toughest in the nation. Drake will have played 12 games against power five schools this season, which is more than any other team they will face in conference play this year. 

They have also gone into extra innings four times this year, three of which being against the Missouri Valley Conference newcomer Murray State Racers. The Bulldogs came away from that series against the Racers having played 33 total innings of softball in two days. Despite their recent struggles, the Bulldogs have had bright spots stand out this season as their play has improved. 

After playing the last two Missouri Valley Conference series at home, the Bulldogs are looking towards their veteran players to lead them through conference play. One player to have carried them on the mound is senior Mackenzie Hupke. The native from Independence, Iowa, recently threw a season high 13 strikeouts in a marathon win against Murray State on Sunday, April 2. Hupke has continued her success with the Bulldogs after last season, where she struck out the most batters of any Bulldog, setting down 81 batters on strikes. Hupke is on pace to crush last year’s total by a large margin. She has also recorded a spot on the top 20 leaderboard for the entire conference in ERA, with a 3.03 ERA so far. 

Often joining Hupke on the bump is sophomore standout Emma Dighton, a recent transfer from DMACC. Since transferring to Drake, she has recorded over 70 innings of pitching while only giving up 36 hits. As one of the Bulldogs’ few players that has started in every game she has appeared in when hitting, Dighton has recorded the third highest batting average for the Bulldogs this year, batting .280 with 22 RBIs on six home runs. However, her walk-off moonshot in the 14th inning of that same marathon game cemented her as a dominant hitter for Drake. The sophomore from Boone, Iowa, has put herself on the conference leaderboard for several categories, such as slugging pct (.559), runs batted in (22), home runs (6) and total bases (52). 

As the Bulldogs look toward the remainder of the season, they will look towards their pitching staff to help carry their recent offensive success. Players like sophomore Paige Bedsworth and redshirt freshman Jayme Scheck have both rebounded from their early season struggles and have become reliable arms for the Bulldogs to get out of tough situations. 

The Bulldogs will continue conference play in Des Moines with two remaining homestands. They will face the Illinois State Redbirds from April 14-16 and the UIC Flames from May 5-7 at Ron Buel Field. 

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