With its season on the downswing, the Drexel softball team was in desperate need of any kind of win. That’s just what they got in their April 16-17 series sweep of the University of North Carolina Wilmington, their first series sweep of the season.
The Dragons went from losing seven straight games just two weeks ago to winning three straight games for the first time in over a month. The best part? Two of the three wins were of the come-from-behind variety.
The Dragons (12-24, 4-8 Colonial Athletic Association) started the series with a 3-2 win with CAA pitcher of the week Hillary Allen on the mound. She earned a complete game win, giving up eight hits, striking out five batters and only allowing one earned run.
“The team has a lot of confidence with Hillary on the mound,” head coach Kim Camara said. “She works hard to give us a solid outing every time she takes the mound.”
The Seahawks got on the board early in the first inning on an RBI single by Allison Lanouette. In the third inning, an error by sophomore Amanda Bachmann would allow another run to score, widening the Seahawks lead to 2-0.
In the sixth inning, Drexel turned the bats on and began their rally. After a pinch hit, senior Laura Stagliano promptly stole second base, and then senior Rachel Campbell brought her home with an RBI single. A pitch then hit by junior Paige Collings and senior Kelly Downes drew a walk to load the bases. Junior Caprice Demirjian reached on a fielder’s choice to bring home one run, and sophomore Hanna Parrish hit the go ahead run for the Dragons. Allen would pitch out of a jam in the sixth inning leaving two runners, solidifying the Dragons’ win 3-2.
The second game of the double header was also a come-from-behind victory for the Dragons to complete the double header sweep of UNCW. After giving up four runs in her first two innings, freshman pitcher Shelby Taylor settled down and only gave up one run on two hits for the rest of the tilt.
The Dragons laid the groundwork for their rally in the third inning when junior Devon Metcalf drew a leadoff walk and stole second base. Freshman Comfort Ahonkhai then hit a double to advance Metcalf to third and Stagliano bought her home with a sacrifice fly. Campbell followed with a single, and Collings drew a walk to load bases. Downes then drew a walk to push the tying run. Taylor helped her own cause by hitting an RBI single, bringing Drexel within one run, 4-3. The Dragons tied the game for a half-inning when Collings brought home Stagliano on a sac-fly.
Taylor struggled with her control in the bottom of the fifth, walking three and giving up a run to put the Seahawks ahead 5-4. In the bottom of the sixth inning, Bachmann came around to score on a Metcalf bunt and a single by Parrish to tie the game at 5-5. Stagliano was once again the catalyst to the game-winning run when she drew a lead-off walk and stole second. Campbell moved Stagliano to third with a fly ball with Collings coming up to the plate. Stagliano then sprinted home on a ground out to second to score the go ahead run. It held up as the Dragons went on to win 6-5.
After a crazy game the night before, Drexel played its final game of the series against UNCW looking for the sweep.
Hillary Allen closed the series out with a complete game win and a two-run home run at the plate. The Dragons jumped ahead in the first inning 3-0 and this lead was held for the rest of the game as Drexel went on to win 3-2.
Drexel’s winning streak came to a halt against a University City rival, the University of Pennsylvania (15-16-1, 6-6 Ivy League). Drexel was on the butt end of a late-game rally in this one as they lost 8-4 in eight innings. Allen got the start against UPenn, but faltered early, giving up three earned runs on six hits while walking four. She only lasted 2.2 innings, but was awarded a no decision on the stat sheet.
The top of Drexel’s line-up continued to produce runs as they put the Dragons up one in the first inning. Parrish drew a leadoff walk and stole second base to put her in scoring position. Stagliano advanced Parrish with a ground out to shortstop, and Campbell brought her home with a single.
Penn answered in the third inning with back-to-back homeruns by Alisha Prystowsky and Brooke Coloma, bringing the Quakers ahead 3-1. After the homeruns, Allen walked the next batter on four pitches.
Camara had seen enough of her ace and pulled her from the game. Camara gave reliever Beach the ball with two outs. She retired her next batter on a first pitch ground out.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, with runners on first and second, Metcalf got a hit to drop into shallow centerfield, bringing home a run, shortening the Quakers lead to 3-2.
In the fifth inning, Stagliano saved a pair of runs when she leapt onto the fence and robbed Coloma of her second home run. That play seemed to spark some life into the Dragons. In the next inning, Stagliano led off with a double down the left field line. Campbell drew a 10-pitch walk. Leading run producer Collings brought home a run with a frozen rope to center field, and Downes followed with a well-placed bunt to put Drexel on top 4-3.
UPenn drew two walks to start the inning. Beach came close to escaping the inning, quickly getting two outs, but Bridget Ellsworth hit a blooper to shallow center to bring home the tying run.
In extra innings there were missed opportunities on both sides but UPenn pulled ahead in the top of the eighth on a two-run homer by Steph Caso. The home run would hold up as the game winner as Drexel fell to UPenn 6-4.
Drexel will travel to Fairfax, Va. April 22 for their next series against George Mason University. Camara is optimistic about the upcoming series.
“I feel like we have hit our stride,” Camara said. “We have a good feeling about what we are doing and how we are winning games. I am excited to see what the rest of the season has to bring.”
The conference matchup will be important, and Drexel hopes to come home with some more wins.