Softball team nearing .500 after tumultuous week | The Triangle

Softball team nearing .500 after tumultuous week

Junior Leticia Matsuoka lines up a pitch versus James Madison University Sunday, April 13. The Dragons lost a close one to the Dukes, 5-4. (Ken Chaney)
Junior Leticia Matsuoka lines up a pitch versus James Madison University Sunday, April 13. The Dragons lost a close one to the Dukes, 5-4. (Ken Chaney)

Inconsistency has plagued Drexel’s softball team all season. After starting the season 3-9, the team turned the season around and reached the .500 mark. They were a game under going into a weekend series against James Madison University. Though they fell below their high water mark for the season, they were trending upward going into the games, winning six of nine since a pair of postponements.

They started the home series well, opening the April 12 doubleheader with a rallying win, 7-6 against the Dukes. Trailing 6-1 going into the seventh, the Dragons stormed back to take the game for their only win in the series.

Things got off to a good start after Baeley Reed’s RBI single pushed the game’s first run across in the bottom of the second to give Drexel the early lead. It would not last long as the Dukes tied it in the fourth after pitcher Jailyn Ford  sent a homerun over the right field wall.

Shelby Taylor, who came into the game with five consecutive  starts, pitched well again for a sixth good outing, but was not backed by her defense. In the top of the fifth, Reed committed a costly error at short stop that led to three runs in the inning and only one earned.

The game stayed at 4-1 until the top of the seventh when the Dukes tacked on two more with Taylor still on the bump. With two outs and one error already committed in the frame, James Madison scored two more on a fielding error by Vanesa Lightfoot to make it a five-run game.

Taylor, who allowed just two earned runs over seven innings on the mound, made things interesting in the bottom of the seventh  with a two-run home run to make it 6-3. Back-to-back RBI singles later in the inning from Maddison Timoteo and Comfort Ahonkhai made it a one-run game.

The stage was set for Leticia Matsuoka to at least tie the game with the bases loaded. She landed a walk-on double to give Drexel its 15th win of the season, the 11th for Taylor.

In the second game, Drexel was unable to capitalize on the momentum of the dramatic victory and fell, 7-3. In the second inning, the Dragons tied the game at one where the scored remained until the fourth, when a home run from Ford started a six-run outing in the late innings from the Dukes.

Trailing 7-1, Drexel started its rally, an inning earlier this time, in the sixth. With the bases loaded, Timoteo was hit by a pitch, forcing in a run. An RBI single from Reed made it 7-3 but the rally was squashed with Ahonkhai hitting a ground ball too short that forced a runner out at the plate. Drexel would not score again.

Sunday’s rubber game was a wild one that went back and forth, ultimately ending with the Dukes on top, 5-4, to claim the series. The two teams combined for five home runs on the sun-splashed Sunday afternoon.

Taylor’s run of good starts came to an end as she was touched for all five runs over a complete game performance. Niki Prince led off the game with a home run to get the home run derby started, but Taylor answered with her first of two on the day in the bottom of the frame.

A two-run single from Erica Field gave the lead back to the Dukes, 3-2. The game would stay that way through the fourth inning.

Taylor’s second home run, in the bottom of the fifth, knotted the score at three. Catcher Karli Boyer would make it back-to-back home runs  and give Drexel a 4-3 lead.

It would not last, though, as Catherine Clavin pinch-hit a two-run home run for the fifth and final lead change and fifth long ball of the game.

The record sunk Drexel to 15-17 on the season, and they would have to sit on the two losses a bit longer after the April 15 game against La Salle University was canceled, not to be made up. The game was even moved up two hours from its initial start time to avoid the weather, but the ballgame was still preempted.

The Dragons took on University City rival the University of Pennsylvania and powered to a 6-2 “road” victory April 16. Ahonkhai drove in four runs and Matsuoka tallied two more as the Dragons used a four-run fourth inning to draw within one game of .500 on the season.

Taylor got back to winning with four solid innings, allowing just three hits and one earned run.

The team will return to its home field April 18 for a doubleheader against Towson University at 1 p.m.