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The Student News Site of Drake University

The Times-Delphic

The Student News Site of Drake University

The Times-Delphic

Drake softball team secures home opener win over Western Illinois

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Drake’s Softball Team is now 11-13 on the season. Their home opener win over Western Illinois snapped a five-game losing streak. They’ll look to build a winning streak against the Creighton Bluejays on March 27. Photo By Sarah Fey | Staff Photographer

Drake softball had their home opener against Western Illinois on Tuesday, March 19.  With a final score of 2-1, this win helped the Bulldogs turn around their season, after an initially slow start, and break their five-game losing streak.

Starting the scoring off early, Western Illinois scored in the first inning. Bella Alvarez started it off with a double to right field, which was followed by Maria Luna hitting a single to bring her home.

Lindsay Diehl, head coach of Drake softball, said it was exciting to play at home after a heavy away schedule.

I love playing on this field. I love being here at home. We have great fan support that keeps showing up,” Diehl said.

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Western Illinois’ offensive prowess was promptly shot down after the first inning by Drake’s defense. The Bulldogs stopped the Leathernecks from scoring for the rest of the game through a variety of defensive plays, the majority being ground outs to the infield.

“I think our defense is really strong. I think our infield, we’re communicating all the time and we just have a lot of trust in each other,” pitcher Molly Hoekstra said. “If you don’t make the play, someone’s going to be there to back you up, and just believe in yourself that you can do it and your teammates believe in you. That’s all you can ask for.”

NCAA college softball is only seven innings. Hoekstra pitched all seven innings, striking out five batters and allowing five hits. This improved her record as a starter this season to 4-1. Diehl said that she and Hoekstra talked before the game about ensuring Hoekstra was focusing on owning her spin, adding that Hoekstra settled in after the first inning. 

“The philosophy right now, as long as you’re going and you’re being successful, we leave you out there,” Diehl said. “We have two arms ready to go in the bullpen. But when you’re doing a fantastic job, you get to keep the ball in the circle.”

Offensively, Drake had a total of seven hits throughout the whole game, and two runs scored in the bottom of the sixth.

“​​I think at the beginning of the game we were getting people on base, but we just couldn’t quite push one across,” Hoekstra said. “When we got one across, then it was contagious, and we just had contagious hitting and stringing them together and playing as a team.” 

Diehl said they will continue to make adjustments offensively. She thought the energy was low and the intensity was different from when Drake played Western Illinois earlier in the season.

“We have to change our mindset at the plate to just be in attack mode, that we’re ready to hunt good pitches,” Diehl said.

For Hoekstra, the highlight of the game was catcher Skylar Rigby’s hitting. Rigby went three-for-three at the plate, one of which was a triple in the second inning. The other was the game-winning RBI.

Still behind in the bottom of the sixth, utility player Addie Lightner hit a single between shortstop and third base to get on base. Drake then subbed infielder Lydia Olejniczak in as a pinch runner; she was able to advance to second base because of infielder Abby Martin’s sacrificial bunt. Next to the plate, infielder Carey Koenig hit a single to center field and then stole second base, thus ensuring two runners were in scoring position when Rigby hit a single to left field.

“I think this was a huge team win and we battled all the way through,” Hoekstra said.

Diehl has a goal for the team to improve their consistency. 

“We have shown moments of greatness where we show up and we compete. We’re able to win pitches, and we’re playing with great energy and it’s contagious in the dugout,” Diehl said. “I said this year was going to be a roller coaster ride, but I want to try to make it not such big dips and just some smaller hills.” 

Diehl said over the season the team has grown, and they are determined to keep improving. 

“We just keep figuring out who it is that we are and what we want to do,”  Diehl said. “I think just continuing to believe in ourselves and show up to compete every day [is our goal for this season].” 

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