Drake Set To Close Regular Season Slate
OMAHA, Neb. – The Drake University softball team steps out of conference play to visit Nebraska Omaha this Wednesday, April 30. The two teams were scheduled to play in Omaha late last season, but the contests were cancelled due to rain and cold. The two teams will play Wednesday night at 6:30 p.m.
Drake will welcome Bradley to Ron Buel Field this weekend (May 3-4) for three games starting Saturday with a doubleheader as first pitch of game one is scheduled for noon. The two teams will then close out the series on Sunday with a single game at noon. Prior to Sunday’s game, Drake’s five seniors (Liz Buck, Jordan Gronewold, Amy Pierce, Nicole Randel and Cortney Wood) will be honored on Senior Day.
Live stats for all remaining games will be available at www.GoDrakeBulldogs.com.
LAST TIME OUT
The Bulldogs fell at Illinois State, 11-0, Monday night, but are 3-2 in their last five games. The second scheduled game against the Redbirds in the doubleheader was cancelled due to inclement weather in the area. Last week, Drake opened the week with a 7-1 victory over UNI at home as it claimed the season series against the Panthers. The team then visited Indiana State over the weekend as it claimed another series with two wins over the Sycamores. Drake has won four of its last five league series.
NEBRASKA OMAHA QUICKLY
Drake (17-30, 9-13 MVC) is 4-2 all-time against the Mavericks, including a sweep of a doubleheader in 2012 at Ron Buel Field. UNO is led at the plate by Amber Lutmer, who hits .352 and has a Summit League-best 16 home runs to go with 46 RBI and 37 runs. In the circle, Dana Elsasser is 24-7 this season with a 1.89 ERA
Bradley (23-27, 14-10 MVC) is having one if its best conference seasons in program history as its 14 conference wins this year are a school record. The Braves are finishing the MVC regular season on the road for the first time since the 2007 season. In the circle, Madeline Lynch-Crumrine is 16-14 with a 2.90 earned run average and contributing at the plate as well with a .296 batting average, four home runs and 21 runs batted in.
Drake will travel to Iowa State on Tuesday, May 6 to close the regular season schedule. The Bulldogs held on for a 10-9 win over the Cyclones earlier this year at Ron Buel Field.
CLOSE IT OUT
Entering the final week of conference play Drake is 9-13 in MVC action and sits in seventh place in the standings. Drake is looking to secure a spot in the MVC tournament held May 8-10. The top eight teams in the conference standings qualify for the MVC tournament, where the winner claims an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
Laura Brewer (Waukee, Iowa) is blistering league pitching particularly in Drake’s last eight contests slugging seven home runs in that span along with a .360 batting average, nine runs scored, 13 RBI and 1.200 slugging percentage. For the season, she is hitting .306 with a team-leading nine home runs and 31 RBI. Coming into this season the junior had just one career home run.
Rebekah Schmidt (Cottage Grove, Minn.) has settled in to the ace role in the circle for the Bulldogs as she has won eight of her last nine decisions. Schmidt is 15-11 overall along with a 3.36 earned run average and 132 strikeouts. The junior has 434 career strikeouts, which ranks fifth all-time in Drake history. Former standout Jenna DeLong (2008-11) owns the top overall total with 760 career strikeouts. Schmidt is also producing at the plate with a .275 batting average, four home runs, six doubles and 14 RBI.
Senior Amy Pierce (Olathe, Kan.), who has started every game at shortstop for the Bulldogs the previous two seasons and this year as well, is the school’s all-time leader in stolen bases (91) and runs (134). She will look to climb several more statistical categories this season. In Monday’s game against Illinois State she had two hits to put her in a tie with former standout Dani Tyler for the third most career hits in program history with 202. She ranks fourth all-time in doubles with 38, sixth all-time in runs batted in with 91 and is tied for sixth in career home runs with 19.
CATCH ME IF YOU CAN
Pierce swiped eight stolen bases in the three games against Loyola earlier this spring, including four in Drake’s 6-4 comeback win over the Ramblers. She owns the top two individual stolen base season totals in school history, nabbing 26 last season and 25 her sophomore campaign.
Senior Liz Buck (Overland Park, Kan.) has provided a steady hand at first base with her defense her first three seasons, but entered 2014 with a career batting average of just .189. However, this year along with her usual solid defensive skills, Buck is hitting .244 and has driven in a career-high 13 runs.
IT’S OUT OF HERE
Junior Hayley Nybo (Minnetonka, Minn.) has blasted four home runs and driven in 21 runs in 2014. Nybo has 23 career blasts, which ranks third all-time in school history. Elena Leon is the school’s all-time leader in home runs with 33. Nybo recently moved into third all-time in career RBI’s with 102.
Freshman Megan Sowa (Gurnee, Ill.) has settled in the outfield in her first season, starting the last 40 games. Sowa leads the squad in batting average at .359, on-base percentage (.435), walks (17) and triples (1). She is second in several other statistical categories, including stolen bases (5) and runs (23) and hits with 46. Sowa blasted her first career home run in last week’s win over UNI.
Drake captured the Woo Pig Fastpitch Classic title on March 1 with a 3-1 record, including a 7-4 victory over then No. 24 Arkansas in the title game. The Bulldogs avenged a 10-6 loss to the Razorbacks in the first meeting between the teams in the two-day tournament. Drake added wins over Louisiana Tech and Stephen F. Austin in Fayetteville. Sowa hit a blistering .545 in the classic as her average led the team, going 6-for-11 at the plate along with two runs scored and three runs batted in in the four games. The outfielder recorded four hits, two RBI and two runs scored in a pair of contests against the Razorbacks. Sowa’s big weekend in Arkansas propelled her to taking home the Missouri Valley Conference Softball Newcomer of the Week award.
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 followed by Illinois State with 83 points. Drake tallied 82 points.
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.