DES MOINES, Iowa – The Drake University softball team dropped two close games to the Missouri Valley Conference leaders, the Wichita State Shockers by scores of 4-2 and 2-1, respectively.
In the opening contest, sophomore Mariah McKinnon (Oxford, Iowa) started for the Bulldogs (14-27, 6-10 MVC) in the circle, and pitched 4.2 innings as she took the loss with her record falling to 1-9 this season. McKinnon allowed three runs (two earned) on three hits and four walks. Junior Rebekah Schmidt (Cottage Grove, Minn.) also pitched in the game, accounting for the remaining 2.1 innings as she allowed one run on five hits. Both pitchers recorded one strikeout.
Drake’s offense was limited to one big inning in the first game, which was sparked by junior Laura Brewer’s (Waukee, Iowa) home run. Senior Jordan Gronewold (Carlisle, Iowa) singled in her pinch-hit opportunity to drive home the other run. Five other Bulldogs recorded hits.
A leadoff triple by Paige Luellen in the top of the second put a runner in scoring position for the Shockers (28-17, 15-3 MVC) and Lullen later scored on a suicide squeeze by Ali Vandever to give Wichita State a 1-0 lead.
Wichita State extended its lead in the next inning, 2-0, but further damage was avoided with junior outfielder Sarah Ryan (Mount Vernon, Iowa) catching Liz Broyles trying to score on a single up the middle to end the inning.
Vandever scored with two outs in the fourth inning on an error giving the Shockers a 3-0 lead.
Brewer blasted a shot over the left field wall in the bottom of the fourth inning for her third home run of the season to ignite Drake’s offense. Four consecutive singles followed Brewer’s home run as the Bulldogs cut into Wichita State’s lead, 3-2, after Gronewold’s pinch hit RBI-single.
The Shockers added an insurance run in the top of the seventh inning on Luellen’s double to take a 4-2 lead.
McKinnon got the call to start the second game as well, but Schmidt took the circle in the top of the second inning after the Shockers had two runners on base with one out. Schmidt struck the next two batters to work out of the jam as finished the game with six strikeouts. Schmidt’s record falls to 13-11 this season with the tough loss, after pitching 5.2 innings and surrendering two runs on four hits.
The Shockers took a 2-0 lead with a two-run home run off the bat of Brittany Fortner in the third inning.
Sophomore Chelsea Blaylock’s (Des Moines, Iowa) home run was Drake’s only run in the second game, and freshman Megan Sowa (Gurnee, Ill.) was 3-for-3 to lead Drake offensively. Blaylock’s solo blast was the first home run of her career and made the score 2-1 in favor of the Shockers.
The teams will finish the series on Saturday with a single game at Ron Buel Field, beginning at noon.