Despite early stumble, softball progresses in tournament

Originally Posted on The Triangle via UWIRE

 

A poor start for the Drexel University softball team made way for a stellar second half of their season, during which the Dragons earned the No.4 seed in the CAA finals (Photograph courtesy of Greg Carroccio/Sideline Photos ).

For the Drexel University softball team, the start of the regular season showed just how powerful they can be. However, after their game against the University of Pennsylvania, they only managed to win one game of the last eight games. They still managed to secure the No. 4 seed in the CAA championships, but this is not what we expected, looking back at their previous games.

Nonetheless, securing the No. 4 seed in the championships is a great accomplishment. The rest of their regular season started off with a doubleheader against James Madison University. JMU’s pitcher Odicci Alexander had a perfect game going into the fifth inning, when the Dragons finally managed to get a hit with a double by sophomore Megan Trivelpiece. It was quite the opposite story for JMU, scoring four runs in both the second and fourth inning and five in the first inning. With just 14 hits, the Dukes managed to pull away with the win, 14-0.

It was a similar story in the second game, as JMU jumped to a 6-0 lead after two innings. It looked to be another wipeout for the Dragons, but at the last second, their bats came alive. In the fifth inning, they managed to score four runs to cut JMU’s lead in half. However, JMU was able to get the win, 9-4.

Drexel tried to get at least one game in the series against JMU, but it was to no avail. A solo home-run by senior Taylor Lee was their first run of the game. An RBI single by junior Linda Rush brought in Drexel’s second and last run of the game. However, the Dukes were able to get four runs in each of the three first innings, bringing them to a 12-2 win.

Things started to look better for the Dragons in their next doubleheader against Howard University, where they split the series 1-1. The start of the series was a little rough. Howard got out to a 3-0 lead by the third inning of the first game. However, this was the same inning where Drexel scored their first run. A solo shot by Lee in the fourth brought them within one, but two more runs by Howard in the fifth secured their win, 5-2.

The second game is where Drexel exploded, where they jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning. Sophomores Elena Woulfe and Haley Hulitt both recorded singles to get out to a 3-0 lead, and an RBI double from sophomore Kristi DiMeo got them to a four run lead. After adding one more run in the second, Drexel was out to a 5-0 lead. Junior Taylor Kent helped keep Howard’s run total to one in the fifth inning when she threw out a baserunner from the outfield. A final run by Howard in the seventh sealed Drexel’s 30th win of the year, 5-2.

Next up was Saint Joseph’s University, which was the Dragons’ final regular-season non-conference game. However, this was the start of a downhill path for the rest of the regular season as the Drexel offense was not able to procure enough runs to get the win. An error in the first inning gave SJU a 1-0 lead while a double in the third inning added a run to that total. An additional run in the fourth brought them to a 3-0 lead. Drexel finally scored a run when sophomore Reilly Jo Swanson stole home to give Drexel’s only run of the game. SJU won the game, 3-1.

Things didn’t really get any better for the Dragons in their next doubleheader against Towson University. By the fourth inning, Towson was up 6-0, while Drexel only managed two hits during that time. The fifth inning put Drexel in the game as they scored three runs to cut Towson’s lead to just two. But, Towson was ready for this as they scored five in the sixth to get the 11-4 win.

In game two, Drexel was the first to attack when a DiMeo single put them up 1-0. However, Towson replied with two runs of their own, taking the 2-1 lead. Drexel tied it up in the sixth inning when Hulitt notched an RBI single. But, Towson went out in glorious fashion, hitting a solo home run to win, 3-2.

Drexel finished up their regular season with a chance to avenge their previous two losses with the last game of the series against Towson. Although they lost 3-1, it was a momentous occasion for the Dragons. Rush hit her 20th home run of the season, making her the only Dragon ever to do so. This game also secured them the No. 4 spot in the CAA championships, their first trip in almost 15 years.

The Dragons’ next stop was Harrisonburg, Virginia, for the CAA Championships. Their first opponent was the College of Charleston, the No. 5 seed. An RBI single from junior Hannah Walker in the fifth inning got Drexel on the board. A three-run sixth inning gave the Cougars the lead, but a two-run shot from Rush, her 21st of the year, tied up the game. Charleston took the lead in the ninth, but Drexel was able to come back and tie the game at 4-4. The game went into extra innings, where the Cougars again scored, this time on an RBI double, but Drexel had a response with a home run by Hulitt. But, in the 11th inning, Charleston finally pulled away for the win with an RBI single and double to seal the deal, 7-5.

After a disappointing start to the tournament, the Dragons moved onto an elimination game against Towson. A home run in the second inning gave Towson the lead, but Drexel was able to tie up the game in the seventh with a sacrifice fly by sophomore Elena Woulfe. A bunt by Walker drove another run in and gave Drexel the lead, 2-1. The Dragons were able to stop Towson from scoring again as they took the 2-1 win.

Drexel tried to continue their hot streak with a rematch against Charleston. This time, they were ready for the challenge. Rush hit her 22nd home run of the season to extend her record and give the Dragons a 3-0 lead. She also broke another record this game with her 78th RBI of the season, a new single-season record. Multiple Dragons, including Hulitt, DiMeo and Swanson scored to give the team a crushing 8-0 win.

Drexel then moved onto their first CAA semifinal game in team history against Elon. However, this game defied all expectation. Elon pulled out to a 7-0 lead by the seventh inning, but Drexel fought hard till the last minute. They managed three runs in the seventh to keep the game alive, with two RBIs by Rush to extend her record to 80. But, it wasn’t enough, as the Dragons’ season ended with a 7-3 loss.

Read more here: https://www.thetriangle.org/sports/despite-early-stumble-softball-progresses-in-tournament/
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