Drake Travels To Baylor For Getterman Classic
WACO, Texas – The Drake University softball team travels to the Getterman Classic for five games in three days. Drake opens the tournament with matchups against Lipscomb and host Baylor on Friday, Feb. 14 then takes on UAB and No. 14 Missouri on Saturday, Feb. 15. East Carolina was originally scheduled as Drake’s second opponent on Saturday, but the Pirates withdrew from the tournament due to Winter Storm Pax, which produced hazardous travel conditions and cancelled flights in North Carolina.
Missouri was scheduled to start its season at the Jacksonville (Fla.) University tournament, but had to find an alternate location after travel plans to Florida were cancelled due to the weather. Drake closes the Getterman Classic against in-state foe Iowa on Sunday, Feb. 16. Live stats for the Baylor, UAB and Iowa games will be available at the tournament central page here. The Lipscomb and Missouri games will be played off-site so live stats will not be available.
ABOUT THE OPPONENTS
Drake’s opening opponent is off to a perfect 4-0 start with victories over Tennessee State, Miami (Ohio), Virginia Tech and Butler. The Lady Bisons were picked to finish third in the Atlantic Sun Conference preseason coaches poll.
The Bears are ranked No. 16 in the USA Today/NFCA Division I Poll after starting the season 4-1. Baylor’s lone loss was to No. 3 Washington in its season opener. The Bears have wins over San Diego, UC Davis, UNLV and Arkansas.
UAB started the season ranked in the USA Today/NFCA Preseason Poll for the first time in school history, is off to a 1-3 start with its win against Austin Peay. The Blazers are the reigning Conference USA regular season champion and the 2013 NCAA Tournament Louisville regional champion.
The Tigers finished 38-14 overall and 15-8 in the SEC in 2013 in their first season in the conference. Missouri, which has advanced to the NCAA Super Regional six-straight seasons, starts this year ranked No. 14 in the USA Today/NFCA Division I Preseason Top 25.
Iowa is 2-2 this season with wins over UNC Greensboro and Presbyterian and losses to South Carolina and Ohio. Drake will try to avenge an 18-0 rout at the hands of the Hawkeyes last season.
LAST TIME OUT
Drake looks to rebound from a tough start to the season as the Bulldogs dropped their first four games, with two of the losses by one run.
The Bulldogs travel to Tempe, Ariz. for six games, including two matchups with host Arizona State. Drake and ASU will play Feb. 20 prior to the start of the Diamond Devil Invitational. The Bulldogs have five games scheduled in the tournament, including the rematch with the Sun Devils as they also play Boston College twice, Idaho State and Seton Hall.
DRAKE PICKED THIRD
The Bulldogs have been picked third in the Missouri Valley Conference’s annual preseason poll, the conference office announced in January. Northern Iowa, the defending MVC tournament champion, was unanimously voted number one in 2014 followed by Illinois State with 83 points. Drake tallied 82 points.
PREVIEWING THE BULLDOGS
Head coach Rich Calvert has an experienced squad in his 12th season leading the Drake University softball program. Calvert, the winningest coach in Drake history, has five seniors and five juniors along with two sophomores and four freshmen on the 2014 roster. The Bulldogs went 29-20 in 2013 with eight games cancelled due to bad weather, but still finished second in the Missouri Valley Conference with a 14-7 mark in conference action.
Four players who earned all-MVC first-team honors last season, Jordan Gronewold (Carlisle, Iowa), Hayley Nybo (Minnetonka, Minn.), Amy Pierce (Olathe, Kan.) and Nicole Randel (Alpine, Calif.) along with second-team honoree Rebekah Schmidt (Cottage Grove, Minn.) return for the Bulldogs.
Gronewold and Schmidt once again give Drake a formidable rotation in the circle. Gronewold had a team-high 17 wins a year ago and also contributed at the plate hitting .299 with four home runs, eight doubles and 22 runs batted in. In her senior season she will try to ascend in several career pitching statistical categories in program history and will also see time in right field when not in the circle. Schmidt tallied 12 wins last season along with a team-low 2.27 earned run average and a team-high 148 strikeouts. She added an MVC-best eight saves along with three home runs and 12 RBI at the plate. Sophomore Mariah McKinnon (Oxford, Iowa), who made 11 appearances in her first season, rounds out the rotation.
Pierce had an outstanding junior campaign hitting .359 and leading the team in runs scored with 49 and stolen bases with 26. The Olathe, Kan., native started every game at shortstop blasting nine home runs with 27 RBI and was named the Howlett Award winner as Drake’s top female athlete of the year. She is just three stolen bases away from the top career mark in Drake history and has a shot to end her career number one all-time in hits. Pierce had 60 hits last season and is 64 away from Kris Cox’s school record of 221.
Nybo, who has started every game in her Drake career, returns to third base where along with Pierce, they give the Bulldogs a solid left side of the infield. Nybo has knocked out 19 home runs and driven in 81 runs in her first two years to already be amongst the all-time leaders in Drake history. Freshman Kaitlyn Finneran (Morrison, Ill.) will see time at the hot corner in her first year.
Senior Liz Buck (Overland Park, Kan.) and junior Zeah Peterson (Baxter, Iowa) will share time at first base this spring. Buck had just five errors last year, while Peterson has been the backup catcher the past two seasons.
Junior Laura Brewer (Waukee, Iowa) hit .336 with eight doubles and 15 RBI last year primarily at first base and the designated player position. Brewer will shift to second base in 2014, while sophomore Chelsea Blaylock (Des Moines, Iowa) provides depth up the middle.
Senior Cortney Wood (Alburnett, Iowa) started 43 games at catcher for Drake in her first season after transferring from Indian Hills Community College. Wood hit .272 with three home runs and 19 RBI a year ago and will once again guard the plate. Freshman Ashlie Chambers (Ankeny, Iowa), who helped Ankeny capture the 2013 Iowa Class 5A title, will be Drake’s backup catcher and utility infielder.
Randel returns to left field after a standout junior year in which she hit a team-leading .373 with seven home runs and a team-high 41 RBI, which is the third best single season total in program history. Junior Sarah Ryan (Mount Vernon, Iowa) will patrol centerfield for the Bulldogs, while freshmen Maddie Hooyman (Trenton, Mo.) and Megan Sowa (Gurnee, Ill.) will see time at the corner outfield spots.
Calvert has a pair of former Drake standouts on his coaching staff in Nicole Wood and Tina DeAngelo. Wood, who played for the Bulldogs from 2004-05, is in her eighth season as an assistant, while DeAngelo (Zuccolo) is in her first year as a volunteer assistant. DeAngelo was a standout pitcher that helped Drake capture back-to-back MVC titles in 1994 and 1995 to qualify for its first-ever NCAA Tournament. Kasey Griffith, who played at SIU-Edwardsville and Dallas Center Grimes, returns for her second season as a volunteer coach.
The Bulldogs start their 2014 campaign on Feb. 7 at the Rosemont Rumble hosted by Loyola and UIC in Chicago, Ill., with a contest against IUPUI. Drake will not play Loyola, which joined the MVC in July, 2013, at this season-opening tournament. Instead the Bulldogs face 2013 NCAA Tournament qualifier Central Michigan twice and close the weekend with a game against Western Illinois.
Drake will travel to four additional tournaments with a trip to Baylor’s Getterman Classic (Feb. 14-16) up next with games against 2013 NCAA Tournament participants, Baylor and UAB, along with Lipscomb, East Carolina and Iowa. After the tournament in Waco, Texas, the Bulldogs head to Tempe, Ariz. for six games, including two contests against Arizona State, which advanced to the 2013 Women’s College World Series. The next weekend the team heads to the Woo Pig Classic, where it opens against host Arkansas, a 2013 NCAA Tournament qualifier. The Bulldogs final regular season tournament will be in Stillwater, Okla., for two games with Oklahoma State and two games with Minnesota.
Drake starts the conference slate with a visit to Illinois State before hosting its home opener against Southern Illinois on March 22. Former MVC-rival Creighton, now a member of the Big East Conference, travels to Des Moines on March 26, then Drake visits Loyola (March 29). The Bulldogs have 15 home games at Ron Buel Field including annual matchups against in-state foes, Iowa State (April 9) and Northern Iowa (April 23). The 2014 MVC tournament will be hosted by Illinois State in Normal, Ill., May 8-10.
This will be the 39th season of intercollegiate competition for the Drake softball program.
DRAKE ADDS THREE IN 2014 RECRUITING CLASS
The Bulldogs inked Nicole Newman (Madison, Wis.), Kailee Smith (Murrieta, Calif.) and Kelsey Wright (Olathe, Kan.) to National Letters of Intent this past November, 2013.
Newman, a pitcher and first baseman from Madison La Follette High School, went 15-4 with a 0.44 earned run average and 311 strikeouts in the circle for the Lancers her junior season. She earned first team all-state honors and was named the Gatorade Wisconsin Player of the Year and the Wisconsin State Journal/Wisconsin PrepZone.com Area Player of the Year. Newman also plays basketball and earned several honors last season on the hardwood after averaging 18.1 points and 11.6 rebounds per game.
Smith, a versatile player who has logged time at pitcher, first base and in the outfield, is from Murrieta, Calif. A three-year letterwinner for Paloma Valley High School, she earned All Inland Valley honors her junior season after hitting .406 with six home runs and recording a 1.44 ERA in the circle.
Rounding out the class is Wright from Olathe Northwest High School who hit .581 with a .805 slugging percentage last season on her way to being named first-team all-state. A three-year letterwinner in the infield for the Ravens she helped Northwest capture the Kansas 6A state championship her freshman season.