The Drexel University softball team entered a busy stretch of five games in six days with momentum, winners of three consecutive games. All five games took place on the road, with four of them played in Buies Creek, N.C., March 8-9 at the Hampton Inn Camel Stampede Tournament and a final game March 13 against Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. The road trip as a whole featured mixed results for the Dragons, with the team going 2-3 over the five games.
Drexel kicked off the Camel Stampede Tournament in an afternoon meeting with the Morehead State University Eagles, who entered the contest 4-5 on the season. The Dragons started the game strong, scoring in the top of the first for an early 1-0 lead. Despite the good start, Drexel did not hold the lead for long. Junior pitcher Shelby Taylor started the game for the Dragons but struggled in her four innings of work, giving up six earned runs on nine hits before being relieved by senior pitcher Shyann Beach in the top of the fifth.
Over the final three innings, Drexel managed to tack on four more runs, due in large part to a big day for senior center fielder and leadoff hitter Hanna Parrish, who went 3-5 with two runs scored on the day. The small rally narrowed the gap to 6-3 at one point, but it was too little and too late for the Dragons. Morehead State added on two insurance runs in the fifth, which was more than enough to secure the win for the Eagles. The damage was done early, and it was too much to overcome, as Morehead State went on to win 8-5.
Six hours after their loss to Morehead State, the Dragons returned to the field for their second game of the tournament, a night game against the Norfolk State University Spartans. Similar to their game earlier in the day, the Dragons shot out of the gate in the top of the first with a 1-0 lead. Parrish reached on an error to lead off the game and was later knocked in on a sacrifice fly by senior first baseman Jenn Reading. In her next plate appearance in the fourth, Reading showed her power with a solo home run, which put the Dragons up 2-0. Later in the same inning, junior shortstop Comfort Ahonkhai singled to score freshman pinch runner Lara Horwitz to push the lead to 3-0.
The Spartans answered in the bottom of the frame with two runs of their own, one of which was unearned due to an error by Ahonkhai at shortstop. The score remained at 3-2 until the sixth inning, when sophomore Jill Popek connected for a clutch two-run single, scoring freshmen Ellen Scott and Emily Baker on the play. Drexel headed into the bottom of the seventh with a 5-2 lead, but the Spartans did not go away quietly. After scoring one run on an error by Scott at third base, Norfolk State had the bases loaded with two outs. Despite the pressure, freshman starting pitcher Tara Konopka buckled down and induced a ground ball for the game’s final out, sealing her complete game and a 5-3 Drexel win.
After a short night’s sleep due to the late, exciting game the night before, the Dragons were back on the diamond the next morning to take on the Northern Kentucky University Norse. The teams played an even game through the first three innings, but the Norse finally broke through for four runs in the top of the fourth inning. Northern Kentucky put together the big inning with three hits, one walk and two fielding errors by Drexel. With the score at 4-0 in the bottom of the fifth, Horwitz scored on a ground ball by Ahonkhai, but that would be the lone run for Drexel in the game. In the end, the Dragons’ offense was limited to just one run on five hits, as they fell to Northern Kentucky 5-1.
The finale of the Camel Stampede Tournament pitted Drexel against the host team, the Campbell University Fighting Camels. The story of this game was Campbell’s ability to shut down the Drexel offense throughout the game. The Dragons managed only three baserunners in the game, with their only hit a single to center field off the bat of Parrish in the third inning. While Drexel struggled at the plate, the Fighting Camels broke through for one run in the second and three more in the fifth, which was ultimately the difference, as Campbell went on to win by a score of 4-0.
After a couple days back on campus, Drexel was once again on the road, this time in Washington to take on the Georgetown University Hoyas. The game was very uneventful early on, with both teams combining for only four hits and no runs in the first six innings. Neither team put together any real scoring opportunities until the seventh inning, when each team advanced a runner to second base, but both threats ended there.
The extra inning was a completely different story, as the bats came alive and any previous struggles at the plate were forgotten. Popek led off the top of the eighth with a single to right-center field and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Ahonkhai. Sophomore center fielder Maggy Fermo then stepped to the plate and delivered the game’s first big hit, a double down the left-field line, which scored Popek and gave the Dragons the game’s first lead at 1-0. Sophomore second basemen Sylvia Llamas was up next for Drexel and apparently liked what she saw from her teammate, as she too ripped a double, this time down the right-field line, scoring Fermo and putting Drexel up 2-0. A few batters later, junior catcher Maddison Timoteo was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, and Drexel took a 3-0 lead. Georgetown was able to score one run in the bottom half of the inning, but it was not enough to keep the game going, with the Dragons securing the 3-1 victory.
The Dragons will return home for the first time in 10 days when they take on city rival Saint Joseph’s University March 15.