Loyola Knocks Out Drake In The Quarterfinals Of The 2014 MVC Championship
NORMAL, Ill. – The Loyola Ramblers knocked off the Drake University softball team, 4-0, in the quarterfinals of the 2014 Missouri Valley Conference Championship on Thursday afternoon at Marian Kneer Stadium.
Drake had a couple of different opportunities to put runs on the scoreboard, but just couldn’t quite get the timely hit or lucky break.
Down to their last at-bat, senior Cortney Wood (Alburnett, Iowa) opened the seventh inning with a single to right field for Drake (19-33). Two batters later, fellow senior Liz Buck (Overland Park, Kan.) lined a shot into left field to put runners on first and second base. After a strikeout by junior Sarah Ryan (Mount Vernon, Iowa), senior Amy Pierce (Olathe, Kan.) battled back from a 0-2 count with a liner to right field to load the bases for freshman Megan Sowa (Gurnee, Ill.). However, the Bulldogs rally attempt fell just short as Sowa flied out to left field for the final out as Loyola (23-30) held on for the win.
Loyola struck early with a leadoff home run by Brie Pasquale to start the game as the Ramblers led 1-0.
Jessica Balzano extended Loyola’s advantage to 3-0 in the third inning. Following the home run, starter Jordan Gronewold (Carlisle, Iowa) was replaced in the circle by junior Rebekah Schmidt (Cottage Grove, Minn.), who walked the first batter then struck out the Ramblers cleanup hitter Tarran Shaffer to escape further damage.
The Ramblers added another solo home run in the sixth inning as Lauren Moore launched the first pitch from Schmidt over the left field wall to make the score 4-0. Schmidt pitched well, allowing just the solo homer, while striking out six in 4.1 innings pitched.
Drake’s first scoring chance happened as Piece crushed a line drive in her first at-bat that the Ramblers second baseman knocked down, but her throw was wide and allowed Pierce to move up one base on the throwing error. However, she was left there as Loyola starting pitcher Brittany Gardner, who on Wednesday night was named MVC Pitcher of the Year, struck out the side to get out of the inning.
Gronewold had a nice opposite field hit off Gardner with two outs in the second inning for the Bulldogs first hit. Gronewold then stole second base, but Gardner struck out Buck to end the frame.
In the fourth inning, Wood crushed a ball with a runner on first base that was just foul of the left field foul pole. She later struck out to the end inning.
Leading off the sixth inning, Pierce drove a ball to almost the same spot as Wood for another near home run, but it was also just foul of the same pole. Later in the frame with runners on first and second base and two outs, junior Hayley Nybo (Minnetonka, Minn.) just missed a home run as the ball was caught on the center field warning track to end the inning.