April 14, 2017 by Christopher Markowitz
The Drexel University softball team was unable to snap its eight-game losing streak after being swept at home in a three game series with Elon University April 9 and then falling to the University of Pennsylvania April 12.
In their first game against the Phoenix April 8, the Drexel offense struggled for most of the evening, unable to get a baserunner until the bottom of the seventh.
Kiandra Mitchum, Elon’s ace and one of the best pitchers in the Colonial Athletic Association, pitched a gem against Drexel. She had a perfect game going into the final inning, retiring the first 19 batters she faced. However, Drexel senior Baeley Reed ended the perfecto by singling up the middle of the infield with one out in the bottom of the seventh.
Reed’s base hit momentarily sparked the Dragons as freshman Linda Rush followed up by lining a double off the top of the left-centerfield wall to set Drexel up with runners on second and third and just one out in the inning. Drexel’s offense was still within striking distance of Elon, thanks to a strong start from senior Tara Konopka, who surrendered just three runs in a full seven innings.
Mitchum was able to retire Drexel’s sophomore cleanup hitter Taylor Lee for the innings second out, but freshman Hannah Walker drew a walk, which brought the winning run to the plate for the Dragons. In stepped freshman Mari Gardner with a chance to be the hero. However, Mitchum recovered from the walk with a solid pitch sequence and retired Gardner on strikes, giving Elon a 3-0 victory.
After a 20 minute break, the Dragons and the Phoenix took the field for the second game of a Saturday doubleheader. Once again, the Dragons struggled offensively, scoring their only run of the game in the bottom of the third when Reed drove in freshman Savanna Johnson with a sacrifice fly.
Elon had no problem putting up runs, scoring 13 times in the game’s first five frames. With the mercy rule in effect, the Dragons fell 13-1 to the Phoenix at the end of the fifth inning.
In the final game of the series April 9, Elon looked to put the Dragons away early, scoring the first 10 runs of the contest. Mitchum was on the mound again for Elon, blanking the Dragons in the first three innings. Going into the bottom of the fourth, Drexel was once again in danger of being mercied as the Dragons trailed the Phoenix 10-0.
However, the Dragons’ offense came alive in the bottom of the fourth when Mitchum was replaced on the mound by Kenna Quinn. After Reed and Lee reached base for Drexel, sophomore Kai Uyesaka picked up an RBI single to score Reed and advance Lee to second base. Then Mari Gardner knocked in Lee with a double, which set Hannah Walker up with runners on second and third and just one out in the inning.
Sensing a shift in momentum, Elon head coach, Kathy Bocock made a pitching change and re-entered Mitchum to face Walker. Unfazed by Elon’s best hurler, Walker drove the ball over the left-centerfield fence for her first career home run. cutting Elon’s lead to 10-5 in the process.
Despite Walker’s dinger, Mitchum settled down and retired the Dragons to end the inning. Unfortunately for the Dragons, Mitchum kept her top form for the remainder of the game and held Drexel off the board in the following three innings. Drexel ultimately lost 13-5, being swept by Elon and falling to 1-8 in conference play.
Following the series with Elon, Drexel hosted their University City rival, the UPenn Quakers, April 12. Freshman Alyssa Hamilton made her first career start on the mound for the Dragons. Hamilton was decent early on, giving up a run in the top of the first, second and third innings respectively.
In the bottom half of the first, the Dragons took their first and only lead of the game when Rush smacked a two-run blast into the net behind the leftfield fence. Rush’s homer, the fifth of the season for her, put the Dragons up 2-1. Again in the bottom of the third, Rush had a big hit as she drove in freshman Taylor Kent with an RBI single, tying the game 3-3.
Regardless of a solid start, the Dragons got in their own way too many times. Hamilton allowed a few runs to score on wild pitches, and the Drexel offense made three crucial baserunning mistakes to kill rallies.
The Dragons were unable to score after the third inning, and the Quakers managed to get seven more runs home, giving them a 10-3 win. With the loss, Drexel’s overall record fell to 9-18 on the season.
This weekend, Drexel will play a three game series at home against the College of Charleston, with a double header April 15 and a single game April 16.