The Drexel softball team traveled to Greenville, N.C. Feb. 10-12 to compete in the Pirate Classic for its first action of the season. The Dragons struggled against the competition,, losing all four games they played. The Dragons were defeated by the University of Virginia twice, then Canisius College, and finally the hosting East Carolina University, coming out of the tournament with a combined 32-10 score over the four games. Even though the 32 runs against may look like a big number, the lion’s share of them came from a 14-0 loss to the Cavaliers. Other than their second defeat at the hands of Virginia, the games were relatively close, with Drexel losing by a maximum of three runs in each of their other three losses.
“I saw a lot of improvement from the [first] game to the last game,” head coach Kim Camara said. “Yes, we did not necessarily get the results we wanted, but I saw a lot of fight in this team. Two of the four games there were quite a few lead changes, and we had the tying runs on base in the seventh.”
Dragons senior Paige Collings got off to a slow start, batting a lowly .167 and striking out three times over the weekend. Some unexpected players had a strong showing at the Pirate Classic — freshman Slyvia Llamas, junior Jenn Reading and senior Caprice DeMirjian all hit over .300. Llamas had one RBI and drew two walks. Senior Hillary Allen also didn’t fare too well in her starts. She came away with an 8.38 ERA in 9.2 innings of work. She started two games and had one relief appearance. Despite being a pitcher, Allen is also known for her prowess at the plate — but even she didn’t have a productive day, batting just .143 and striking out three times.
“All three freshmen are a nice addition to our lineup,” Camara said. “Each will contribute in different ways. This weekend Maggy Fermo had some really gritty at-bats and found her way on base with her speed. Sylvia showed amazing discipline at the plate and a solid glove at second base. Jill [Popek] jumped in at third base, which is not her first position, and came up clutch in her first at-bat of the year.”
In their first day of competition, the Dragons faced the Cavaliers followed by the Golden Griffins in a doubleheader.
Sophomore Shelby Taylor got the start against Virginia and went six innings, giving up eight hits and four earned runs in the loss. For much of the game, Taylor worked her way in and out of trouble but held her own against Virginia’s Rachel Gillen, as both threw four scoreless innings. In the fifth inning, Taylor retired the Cavaliers’ first two batters before they broke through and finally scored three runs. Virginia scored two more runs in the top of the seventh inning to widen their lead to 5-0. The Dragons tried to mount a comeback in the bottom of the seventh inning. Allen started things off with a line drive single. Reading then knocked a single of her own to put runners on first and second. In her first collegiate at-bat, freshman Maggy Fermo knocked a line drive past third to load the bases. Llamas then stepped to the plate, already with two hits in her first start as a Dragon, drawing a walk to score Drexel’s first run. DeMirjian was next to bat and hit a line drive to score another run, keeping the bases loaded. With two runs already scored and the bases loaded, the Dragons were hoping that they could score at least three more runs to tie the game up. Drexel couldn’t capitalize, though, and failed to score any more runs in the inning, sealing the 5-2 loss.
In the second game of the doubleheader, the Dragons faced Canisius. Allen got the start against the Golden Griffins and gave up two early runs. The Dragons couldn’t overcome the early deficit and only scored one run in the entire game. Canisius scored a run in the third inning and one more in the sixth to seal the 4-1 win.
With the Dragons still looking for their first win of the season, Drexel faced another doubleheader in the second day of the Pirate Classic.
The Dragons faced Virginia in their first matchup of the day. Allen was awarded the start against the Cavaliers but was chased early after allowing six earned runs on six hits in only 1.1 innings of work. Trailing 6-0 in the third inning, junior Shyann Beach took over on the mound and pitched two scoreless innings. In the fifth inning, Beach gave up eight runs (seven earned), giving Virginia a 14-0 lead and the ultimate win.
In their final game of the tournament, the Dragons faced the hosting ECU Pirates. Taylor got the start in this game and fared well for the first three innings. Drexel’s offense finally broke out in this one, scoring two runs in the second inning to gain their first lead of the season 2-1. In the fourth inning the Pirates plated four runs, giving them the 8-3 lead. The Dragons then came up with three runs in the top of the fifth but couldn’t overcome the big deficit and lost 9-7. Reading hit Drexel’s first home run of the season while Fermo went 3-4 with two runs scored.
This isn’t the way the Dragons wanted to start their season: with Allen and Collings struggling. However, the season is still young.
“Both Hillary and Paige had tough weekends in the books, but they tallied good at-bats and showed some nice power,” Camara said. “They will be fine.”
The Drexel softball team’s next action will be Feb. 24 at the Spartan Classic in Greensboro, N.C.
“It is good to have this layoff right now,” Camara said. “We had an opportunity to go out and evaluate ourselves this past weekend. Now we can take the 10 off days and work on the skills we need to work on, and be well rested going into next weekend.”