Life is about finding your rhythm, and softball is no different. In a sport where seasonal weather forces training and offseason practice inside, the transition from simulated conditions to actual gameplay can be a difficult one. This seemed to be the case for the Drexel University softball team, who struggled to an 0-3 start in early February, a stretch during which they only managed one run. But the Dragons showed their savvy by rebounding and finding their timing. The result: a whopping 20 runs in the next two games, and they haven’t looked back since.
Their recent surge continued over the weekend, when the Dragons travelled down to Hampton, Virginia to take part in the Lady Pirates Classic. Though scheduled to take on the host Hampton squad and Manhattan on Friday, Mother Nature had other plans, sending down inclement weather that cancelled the day’s activities. As is the case in tournament settings, there was little turnaround time for Drexel to focus on their next opponent: a tough North Carolina A&T group. The Aggies entered the game hot as well, having won two of their last three games including a sweep of the Elon Invitational Tournament at the end of February.
The game reflected this relatively even matchup. Strong pitching and defense was the story of the game, with the Aggies’ Janika May matching Drexel’s Taylor Lee inning for inning. As the zeros piled up in the box score, the pressure to emerge from the game above .500 seemed to mount for the Dragons. A one-out single in the seventh inning by the Aggies threatened to break the tie, but Lee calmly handled the situation, forcing the Aggies into a pop out and ground out to end the inning. Still, Drexel had not even had many scoring chances throughout the afternoon. Entering the bottom of the frame, they had only managed to reach base five times, on a pair of walks and three hits. When they most needed them, however, the bats came alive. With one out in the inning, right fielder Jourdan Skirha sent a May delivery into center field, resulting in a double. The next batter was Sharon Zamora, who broke the scoreless tie on an emphatic note: a double down the left field line which scored Skirha from second. Just like their year as a whole, a slow start had turned into a decisive victory, thanks in large part to Taylor Lee’s five-hit shutout.
The Dragons therefore had reason for confidence heading into Sunday’s 1 p.m. matchup against Hampton. From the outset, the Dragons jumped all over the Lady Pirates. Savanna Johnson, Baeley Reed, Ellen Scott, and Gabriela Kuroda all scored in the early barrage, thanks to doubles from Scott and Kimberley Chan. Hampton would not go out quietly though, as they capitalized on a shaky start by Tara Konopka to score three runs of their own in the second inning, bringing the score to within one. Konopka settled down quickly responding with three scoreless frames, a stretch with saw Drexel extend its lead back to four. Gabriela Kuroda was responsible for all three of these RBI’s. The first came on a double to center field in the top of the third, while the next two came just an inning later on a single to left. From there, the game never seemed in doubt, even when the Lady Pirates scored a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth. Katie Haley came in for Konopka to earn her first save of the year, cementing the Dragon’s sweep of weekend play. Ellen Scott finished the day with three doubles, three run batted ins, and three runs scored, while Kuroda finished with four RBIs of her own.
The Dragons will look to continue to ride their wave of recent success in the tournament stage of their schedule. Next up is the Rebel Games in Orlando, where they face 10 teams in just five days. Having won their last five games, the ladies hope to stay in their winning rhythm and enter league play as a force to be reckoned with in the Colonial Athletic Conference.