Bulldogs Travel to Iowa City to Take on Hawkeyes
THIS WEEK IN DRAKE SOFTBALL
Drake (15-16, 8-1 MVC) will travel to Iowa City to face the Iowa Hawkeyes (14-17, 4-2 Big 10) on Wednesday, April 4 at 6 p.m in non-conference action. Last season the Bulldogs won in its final at-bat against the Hawkeyes with a two-out, two-RBI single by Amy Pierce (Olathe, Kan.) at Ron Buel Field. The final score was 2-1.
SCOUTING THE IOWA HAWKEYES
The Hawkeyes are coached by Marla Looper, who is in her second season as head coach. She is 41-41 in her time as head coach of the Hawkeyes. Megan Blank is the top hitter for Iowa at .404 and Katie Keim is next at .313 with a team-leading four home runs and 21 RBI. Last season, Iowa finished 27-24, 9-11 and tied for sixth place in the Big 10.
LAST TIME OUT
The Bulldogs took two out of three against the Missouri State Bears this past weekend at Ron Buel Field in Des Moines. MSU rallied for the win in game one, 3-2 but Drake rallied in game two for the 4-2 win. On Sunday, Torey Craddock's two-run blast propelled the Bulldogs to the 4-2 victory. It was the first meetings between the two teams since the 2011 MVC tournament championship game in Springfield, Mo. The series is now at 41-41-1 all-time.
Drake returns to MVC play when they travel to Cedar Falls, Iowa to face conference-leading Northern Iowa (24-9, 9-0). It will be a showdown between the number one and two teams in the MVC. The Bulldogs won all three games against the Panthers in 2011.
STAYING IN THE STATE
The opening game in the Bradley series was the first of 12 games for the Bulldogs that will be played in the state of Iowa. Drake will not travel outside of the state until they go to Normal, Ill. to face the Illinois State Redbirds on Saturday, April 14 (DH) and Sunday, April 15.
Once again Drake is off to a great start in MVC play with sweeps over Indiana State and Bradley and taking two games from Missouri State. Last season the Bulldogs ripped off nine straight wins to begin conference play. Drake won 16 of their first 17 games on the way to a 19-6 overall regular season record and a second place finish.
Torey Craddock (Tucson, Ariz.) and Pierce are hammering MVC pitching this season. Craddock, a senior infielder is hitting .357 with ten hits including three home runs, six RBI and five runs scored in the first nine conference games. Craddock is hitting .287 with five home runs, 16 RBI, 15 runs scored and 25 hits on the season. Pierce, a sophomore infielder is hitting .367 with 11 hits, five runs scored, three doubles, two triples, four stolen bases and four RBI in the first nine games of MVC play. Pierce is hitting .298 with 31 hits, 18 runs scored, six doubles, three triples and 16 RBI on the season.
Drake is the toughest team in the MVC to strikeout this season. The Bulldogs average a conference low 3.87 punchouts per game and they have a conference-low 120 on the season.
Drake are second in the MVC in fielding percentage (.968) and in errors (28) and trail Missouri State in both categories.
BRING THEM HOME
The Bulldogs have a .389 average (7-of-18) with the bases loaded this season, which is good for third in the valley.
CATCH ME IF YOU CAN
The Bulldogs are running the bases this season with 69 stolen bases and have had just 12 baserunners caught stealing. The Bulldogs lead the MVC in stolen bases and have 21 more than number two, UNI. Drake is ninth in the NCAA in stolen bases. Lindsay Vande Wall (Prairie City, Iowa) and Macie Silliman (Winterest, Iowa) lead the MVC with 17 stolen bases. Pierce has 13 swipes, which is tied for fourth and she leads the MVC in triples with 3.
SIT EM DOWN
The Drake Bulldog pitchers have 192 strikeouts this season, which is just two behind Northern Iowa for the conference lead. Drake sports a 2.39 team ERA, which is also second to UNI. Jordan Gronewold (Carlisle, Iowa) leads the conference with 122 strikeouts and in innings pitched with 137.1. She is 11-10 overall with a 2.29 ERA, which is fifth in the MVC.
Freshman Hayley Nybo (Minnetonka, Minn.) is having a nice start to her first season as a Bulldog. The Minnesota native is hitting .310 with five home runs and 23 RBI along with a .552 slugging percentage.
Gronewold has settled in her role as the number one pitcher for the Bulldogs. Since her start against Arkansas on March 3 when she gave up five runs on eight hits, the sophomore has only allowed two or mores earned runs in a start just three times. She is 11-10 with a 2.29 ERA. Rebekah Schmidt (Cottage Grove, Minn.) has settled into the number two spot in the rotation. The freshman is 3-1 with three saves and has a 0.33 ERA in 21 innings pitched in MVC play and is 4-6 overall with five saves and a 2.59 ERA and 70 strikeouts. Her five saves rank fifth in the NCAA.
Drake has a 4-7 record in games decided by one run this season after the loss to the Bears in the first game on Saturday.
PITCHER OF THE WEEK
Gronewold was named the State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Pitcher of the Week for the period of March 12-18. Gronewold started all three games against Indiana State and went 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA and one save to help the Bulldogs sweep the series. The sophomore allowed just three runs in 15 innings and walked five with 15 strikeouts.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Nybo was named the Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Week for the period of February 20-26, the league announced on Feb. 27. Nybo went 9-17 with four doubles, two home runs and 12 RBI in the five games at the UTA tournament in Arlington, Texas. In her 17 at- bats, Nybo did not strike out. Her contributions helped Drake finished 3-2 in the tournament and overall in third-place. Nybo finished 3-4 with three runs, two doubles, a home run and eight RBI in the consolation game against Arkansas Pine Bluff.
Gronewold and Schmidt recorded two of the first double digit strikeout games in the MVC this season. Gronewold had 10 strikeouts against Western Illinois and Schmidt had 10 strikeouts against Green Bay.