Drake and Southern Illinois To Play Three-Game Series This Weekend
The Drake Bulldogs (19-22, 10-7 MVC) will host the Southern Illinois Salukis (27-12, 10-4 MVC) this weekend starting on Saturday at 12 p.m. with a doubleheader. The series will conclude with a single game on Sunday at 12 p.m. SIU won two of three games last season in Carbondale, Illinois. Saturday is the Lymphoma awareness game with a silent auction for the special jerseys the team will wear.
SCOUTING SOUTHERN ILLINOIS SALUKIS
SIU comes into the series as the top hitting team in the Valley at .301 with five players hitting .330 or above. The Salukis are a patient team at the plate drawing a conference-best 169 walks and they have struck out a conference- low 156 times this season. SIU also sports a conference-leading .410 on base percentage. Kerri Blaylock is in her 13th season as SIU head coach. The Salukis are in second place in the MVC.
LAST TIME OUT
Drake and Creighton split a midweek doubleheader at Ron Buel Field Wednesday. CU took game one, 5-2 but DU bounced back behind Jordan Gronewold (Carlisle, Iowa) and her two-hit shutout to take game two, 2-0. The split helped Drake remain in a tie with Illinois State for fourth place in the MVC.
The Bulldogs will travel to Omaha to play a single game on Tuesday, April 24 at 4 p.m. against Creighton followed by a doubleheader against South Dakota State on Wednesday
BRING THEM HOME
The Bulldogs have a .318 average (7-of-22) with the bases loaded this season, which is fourth in the Valley.
SIU and Drake are the two toughest teams to strike out in the MVC. SIU strikes out a conference-low 4.00 times per game and Drake strikes out 4.51 times per game. SIU has only gone down on strikes an MVC-leading165 times and Drake is seventh with 185 strikeouts.
Drake is the top fielding team in the MVC with a .970 fielding percentage and its 35 errors are the fewest in the conference.
SIU has hit a Valley-high 36 batters this season and Drake is second with 32 hit batters.
Gronewold and Rebekah Schmidt (Cottage Grove, Minn.) are the only two Bulldog pitchers to see action this season. Gronewold leads the Valley in innings pitched (183.1), starts (36) and appearances (38). She is third in wins (14), eighth in ERA at 2.67 and seventh in opponent batting average (.224). Schmidt is second in appearances (32) and the freshman has pitched 92 innings in her first collegiate season. She is first in games finished with 27, 10th in ERA at 2.99 and fifth in opponent batting average (.216).
CATCH ME IF YOU CAN
Drake continues to run the bases this season. The Bulldogs have swiped a conference-best 76 bases this season and have been caught just 16 times. Macie Silliman (Winterset, Iowa) and Lindsey Vande Wall (Prairie City, Iowa) each have 18 stolen bases to lead the Valley along with Sherman of Bradley and Amy Pierce (Olathe, Kan.) is tied for fifth with 15 stolen bases. The Bulldogs were12th in the nation with 1.92 stolen bases per game going into the Creighton series. Pierce has a conference-best three triples this season.
IN A PINCH
Nicole Randel (Alpine, Calif.) is tied for the conference lead with five pinch hits this season.
LOCK IT DOWN
Schmidt's seven saves lead the MVC and the Bulldogs eight saves lead the conference. She is currently tied for the second most in the country.
SIT EM DOWN
The Drake Bulldog pitchers have 259 strikeouts this season, which is behind Northern Iowa (267) for the conference lead. Gronewold is second in the conference with 159 strikeouts and Schmidt is eighth with 100. Jordan Birch of Illinois State is first with 162.
Drake sports a 2.82 team ERA, which is fourth in the Valley but the Bulldogs are narrowly behind Indiana State (2.71) and Missouri State (2.72). UNI has the top ERA at 2.11.
Freshman Hayley Nybo (Minnetonka, Minn.) is having a nice start to her first season as a Bulldog. The Minnesota native is hitting .308 and is tied for the team lead in home runs with six and doubles with eight, she leads the team with 27 RBI and a .530 slugging percentage.
Gronewold and Schmidt recorded two of the first double digit strikeout games in the MVC this season. Gronewold had 10 strikeouts against Western Illinois and Schmidt had 10 strikeouts against Green Bay. Gronewold added another double digit performance with 11 K's against Bradley.