April 04, 2014 by Michael Angelina
Drexel’s softball team continued its strong play of late to pull even at the .500 mark April 2, sweeping Coppin State University in a double header to run the Dragons’ current winning streak to four games.
On nearly full rest since sweeping Villanova University last week, the Dragons got off to an early start against Coppin State. Senior righty Shelby Taylor struck out the first three Eagles on the hill and Drexel pushed the first three runs across, each in the first three innings.
The Dragons used small ball to get on the board early and often. After junior Leticia Matsuoka’s lead-off double, freshman second baseman Vanessa Lightfoot laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance Matsuoka to third base. Taylor then drove a ball out to left field, deep enough to score Matsuoka on a sacrifice fly.
In the second inning, senior outfielder Comfort Ahonkhai reached first base on a bunt hit, stole second and then came around to score on freshman Kim Chan’s RBI single. Drexel scored its third run when Matsuoka, in scoring position thanks to another Lightfoot sacrifice bunt, scored on a steal of home.
That was more than enough for Taylor, who dominated on the mound. The senior allowed only one unearned run on just three hits. Over the complete seven innings, she struck out nine Eagles to move to 8-4 on the year.
In game two, Drexel smacked 16 hits and used a big third inning to cruise to the sweep. Sophomore righty Tara Konopka labored through four challenging innings, but was able to win her second straight start.
A hit parade in the third inning was all Drexel needed to get past the Eagles. Sending 12 hitters to the plate, the Dragons capitalized to score seven runs in the frame. After trailing entering the inning, Matsuoka’s two-run single gave the team its first lead of the game at 3-1.
Coppin State responded by going to the bullpen, calling on Heather Josker to end the rally. Drexel was not nearly finished though, and seven of the nine hitters she would face managed to get on base. The big blow was a two-run double by freshman Baeley Reed that made it a 7-1 Dragons lead.
By the time the book on Josker was closed, it was 10-3 Dragons. The only response from Coppin State was a homerun from Josker in the top of the third.
Entering an 11-4 game, senior right-hander Rose Portiolli pitched a one-two-three fifth inning, and the Dragons went ahead by eight in the bottom of the inning. Following an RBI single by junior Sylvia Llamas in the bottom of the inning, the game was called as a 12-4 Drexel victory.
The double header completed a successful home stand for the softball team. Starting March 22, the team impressively reeled off five victories in seven outings. Overall, the Dragons have won nine of their last 12 games, which, after starting 3-9 on the season, allowed them to pull even at 12-12.
The team will get its first chance at a winning record since the season opener this coming weekend at the University of Delaware. The Dragons will face the Blue Hens for three games, playing a doubleheader Saturday before a potential rubber game on Sunday at noon.