May 12, 2017 by Christopher Markowitz
After a 5-4 walk off victory in the first game of a doubleheader May 6, the Drexel University softball team lost the second game of the day 10-0 and then fell 10-2 May 7, finishing the season with two straight losses to Hofstra University.
Prior to the first game that was played May 6, eight Dragons, Baeley Reed, Vanessa Lightfoot, Tara Konopka, Jourdan Skirha, Kimberly Chan, Savanna Johnson, Erin Okoniewski and Sharon Zamora, were honored in front of the home crowd at the Drexel Softball Field during a Senior Day Ceremony.
The starting lineup for Game 1 of the doubleheader consisted of seven seniors. The only senior who did not start was Kimberly Chan, who was injured earlier this season. However, in a surprise move, Drexel’s coach Carl Taylor had Chan pinch hit to lead off the bottom of the first inning for Drexel.
Chan drew a walk and, for the final time in her career, made her way to first base, much to the pleasure of both the home crowd and her teammates. As soon as Chan reached first, coach Taylor had a pinch runner come onto the bases paths for her, and Chan returned to the dugout, receiving a round of applause.
Despite the Dragons getting a runner on to being the bottom of the first, they were unable to bring a run across the plate. Drexel was held scoreless by the Pride for the first five innings as Hofstra had built a 4-0 advantage
However, Drexel was able to gain some momentum in the bottom of the sixth, once again thanks to standout freshman Linda Rush. With sophomore Janelle Ladrido on bases, Rush launched a screaming liner over the left field fence for a two-run homer, cutting the Pride’s lead to 4-2.
Senior Tara Konopka, who was the game’s starting pitcher, pitched a scoreless top of the seventh to give Drexel a chance for a comeback in the bottom half of the inning.
Freshman Mari Gardner was the first Dragon to reach base in the bottom of the seventh, thanks to a one-out walk. Ladrido followed up by hitting a single up the middle, which put the tying run on base. Lightfoot followed up with another single up the middle, which loaded the bases for Rush.
After getting ahead in the count 2-0, Rush smacked a line drive into the right-centerfield gap, which rolled all the way to the wall. Gardner and Ladrido scored easily, and coach Lightfoot made a bold decision to send Lightfoot home. That decision paid off as the throw to home plate sailed high, allowing Lightfoot to score the game winning run before being mobbed by her teammates.
Rush practically won the game on her own as she was responsible for all five of Drexel’s RBIs.
Unfortunately for the Dragons, they were unable to repeat their success in the second game of the double header. The Pride took command of the game out of the gate, scoring five runs in the top of the first. Alyssa Irons, the starting pitcher for Hofstra, kept the Dragons at bay the entire game, holding them scoreless for five innings. Hofstra managed to score 10 runs by the end of the fifth, which allowed them to pick up a mercy rule victory over the Dragons.
Sunday was basically the same story as Hofstra came away with a 10-2 mercy rule win after five innings. The one bright spot for the Dragons on the day was a home run that Skirha hit in the bottom of the second. It was just the second homer of her Drexel career, and she hit it in her final game.
Drexel finished the season with 19-30 record overall and a 4-16 mark in conference.
Rush finished her record setting freshman campaign with a .414 batting average, 14 home runs, 50 RBI’s, 16 doubles, an .850 slugging percentage, and a .480 on base percentage. In the Colonial Athletic Association, she finished in first place for batting average, home runs, slugging percentage and on base percentage and came in second for RBIs and doubles.
For her efforts, Rush was named to the CAA Rookie Team. Somehow, however, despite her ridiculously impressive resume, Rush was snubbed not only of the CAA Rookie of the Year Award but also of CAA First and Second Team honors. How could a player who finishes no lower than second in every major offensive category not be considered for one of these awards? I’m sure that question is on the mind of everyone who is associated with Drexel softball.