Sweep in Charleston ends softball team’s quest | The Triangle

Sweep in Charleston ends softball team’s quest

Junior Leticia Matsuoka prepares for an at-bat April 12 versus James Madison University. The softball team has dropped six straight games since a 9-1 win on April 18 against Towson University and fallen out of playoff contention. (Ken Chaney, The Triangle)
Junior Leticia Matsuoka prepares for an at-bat April 12 versus James Madison University. The softball team has dropped six straight games since a 9-1 win on April 18 against Towson University and fallen out of playoff contention. (Ken Chaney, The Triangle)

The Drexel softball team traveled to Charleston, S.C., with a chance to make up ground in the Colonial Athletic Association standings and get closer to the playoffs. But after getting swept by the College of Charleston over the weekend, the Dragons’“Road to CAA,” which has been their theme all year, is out of reach.

Drexel now sits in the cellar of the CAA standings. They needed just about everything to go right for them over the final two weeks of the regular season, and after everything went completely wrong in Charleston, their playoff chances are gone, as they have been eliminated from contention for the fourth and final seed.

It started April 26 with Drexel nearly getting no-hit by the Cougars’Hope Klicker. Drexel senior right-handed pitcher Shelby Taylor saw almost no run support from her offense and didn’t receive much help in the field either as the Dragons fell 5-1 in Game 1 on five unearned runs.

A two-out error committed by sophomore Lara Horwitz allowed the Cougars to claim the game’s first runs in the third inning and take a 2-0 lead.

Going into the fifth inning, the game remained within reach at 2-0 as Drexel continued to search for its first base runner. But Taylor committed an unfortunate error trying to spin a double play, and the Cougars were able to put three more runs on the board, highlighted by Kelsey Hodgson’s two-RBI hit.

Still working on a perfect game, Klicker lost it after issuing a lead-off walk to junior Leticia Matsuoka. The no-hit bid was lost as well after freshman Baeley Reed reached on an infield single. Drexel finally got on the board before the end of the game after a ball off the bat of sophomore Karli Boyer had eyes and got through the left side of the field, preventing a shutout.

In Game 2’s 4-1 defeat, the Dragons were again hurt by their play in the field and silent bats. Drexel was able to strike first on a solo home run by Matsuoka, and received a quality start from senior right-handed pitcher Rose Portiolli.

Because of their struggling offense, which has produced more than two runs just once in the team’s last seven games, Drexel was in a position where one defensive error could be fatal. That would prove to be the case, as two miscues in the fourth inning were too much to overcome offensively.

In the bottom of the fourth, the Cougars tied the game with an RBI single from Mackenzie Maples. On the throw to the plate, which was not cut off, Maples was able to advance to second. That minor but significant mistake would prove costly in the game-winning run after Maples scored on a throwing error from Reed, as it allowed her to be in position to score.

Charleston went on to tack on two more runs and Drexel’s offense simply could not put together a rally. The Dragons only managed to have two base runners after surrendering the lead in the fourth inning.

On April 27, Klicker was dominant for the second consecutive day and completed the sweep with a 5-1 victory. Taylor had one of her least effective outings on the season, struggling to pound the strike zone and get hitters out.

Despite walking 11 Cougars, however, the senior right-hander did manage to keep Drexel in the game for much of her six innings of work. It was an unearned run she yielded in the bottom of the fifth inning that broke a 1-1 tie.

The frame began with walking the first two batters, which almost always leads to run production. Another defensive miscue by Drexel, this time a throwing error from senior catcher Maddison Timoteo, allowed a Charleston runner a free pass to score. Three more Cougars scored in the sixth off Taylor, but at that point the Dragons proved to be too far behind.

Drexel had previously scored in the fourth on an RBI single by Timoteo. That was all they could produce off Klicker, who won her 18th game of the season, one more than Drexel’s team total of 17. With the loss, the Dragons’skid reached six consecutive defeats.

Due to the rainstorm that came through Philadelphia this week, the Dragons were stuck with the losing skid for at least a few more days. The games on both April 29 and the doubleheader on April 30 against Saint Joseph’s University and Temple University, respectively, were rained out. As of publication, neither game was scheduled to be made up.

Drexel will finish its round-robin schedule of the CAA as well as its season altogether with three final games on the road at Hofstra University. The Dragons will face the Pride for two games on May 2, starting at 3 p.m., before wrapping up the season the May 3 at noon.