It’s back to the drawing board for Drexel softball. The Dragons were swept in their season-ending three-game series against Colonial Athletic Association rival George Mason University May 3-4 in Fairfax, Va.
Tara Konopka took the mound for the first game and did her job to keep the Dragons competitive. She gave up six hits and only two runs, but Drexel had a very tough time finding the holes to get on base.
Drexel collected only two hits in the first game, which were singles by Maddison Timoteo and Jill Popek. Besides those two hits, the Dragons could not put themselves in a position to score runs, as they dropped the first game 2-0, with Konopka receiving the tough loss.
“Our offense was putting the ball in play but struggled to get that key hit,” head coach Miranda Ervin said. “Both teams did not strike out very much, but George Mason was able to get a key hit where we were not.”
Drexel started Shelby Taylor at pitcher in the second game, but it was the same old story for the Dragons. The team put itself in a position to break a scoreless tie in the fifth inning. Catcher Karli Boyer singled to right to start the inning, moved to second base on a wild pitch and reached third on a groundout. Popek then hit a hard ground ball to the mound, where Boyer was caught between third base and home. After a long rundown, Boyer was tagged out, ending the scoring chance.
The Dragons put runners in scoring position four more times but were unable to execute. Boyer and center fielder Hanna Parrish each had two hits, while Taylor, Popek, Sylvia Llamas and Comfort Ahonkhai each got on base multiple times for Drexel. The game reached the bottom of the 13th inning, which was the Dragons’ third game this season to go at least 11. In the bottom of the 13th, GMU loaded the bases with no outs and then ended the game by hitting a walk-off single. The final score was 1-0 in favor of the Patriots, cementing the win in both games of the doubleheader.
Pitching was a big reason why Drexel stayed competitive in the game and had a chance to win.
“I think our pitchers did an amazing job this weekend, and I feel like this showed them what they are capable of,” Ervin said. “I also think it gives us ways to improve over the summer and in the fall to be even better next season.”
The final game of the Dragons’ season came May 4 against the same GMU team. With a new day and a new game, Drexel hoped to see some offense out on the field. Unfortunately it was a repeat of Friday’s performance, as the Dragons were shut out for the third straight game against the Patriots, falling 1-0 in the season finale.
Again, it was a great combined pitching effort by Taylor, Konopka and Shyann Beach. Beach took the loss for Drexel after giving up a run in the first inning. Taylor and Konopka came in after that and combined to pitch five scoreless innings. The Dragons could only muster three hits in the game. The team finished the season 15-36 and 2-19 in the CAA.
Drexel will now have time to go back and get better during the offseason, and Ervin is very optimistic about the future.
“I am excited to see the work that the athletes put in over the summer and rest of the offseason,” she said. “The team is growing and will continue to get better.”
Ervin then also added some specifics she wants the team to work on: “I want to work on all facets of the game. I think mentality and speed will be a key for us as well as offense. We are going to push hard in the offseason.”
The Dragons are only graduating four seniors: Parrish, Beach, Jenn Reading and Amanda Bachmann. The Drexel softball team is young and determined to make the improvements needed to have a successful season next year.