CARBONDALE — The Drake Bulldogs came into Charlotte West Stadium and won both games of a softball doubleheader against the SIU Salukis on Saturday.
Nicole Newman started for the Bulldogs in game one’s 6-0 victory. The senior held the Salukis to one hit and recorded 15 strikeouts on her way to a complete game.
“I will go on record and say that Newman is the best pitcher to ever throw in our conference,” said Saluki coach Kerri Blaylock. “We took too many pitches … you can’t go down two strikes with her. You’ve got to get on something early because if you don’t she’ll dice you up just because she’s that good.”
The Salukis were able to put runners on base in all but the sixth inning but the hits didn’t come when they needed them to. Newman’s ability to attack the inside part of the plate and finish off batters using her rise ball is what makes her one of the best pitchers in the MVC.
Brianna Jones pitched for the Salukis in game one and moves to 9-6 following the loss. Jones went seven innings giving up six earned runs with five strikeouts and four walks.
Newman had a no-hitter going into the fifth inning before Susie Baranski broke her streak with the only Saluki base hit of the game.
Newman hit from the No. 6 spot for Drake and delivered the first run of the game with a solo home run in the second inning. That got the Bulldogs off to a 1-0 lead and ended up being the only run Newman needed in support. She brought the power for Drake as both of her outs were recorded at the warning track in her 1-for-3 performance at the plate.
The Bulldogs tacked on three more runs in the fifth inning. Freshman Hannah Pals led off the inning with a double and came around to score on an RBI base hit by Macy Johnson. Senior Kennedy Frank drove in two more runs on a bloop single right over the outstretched arms of shortstop Ashley Wood.
Frank and Newman led the way with two RBI’s a piece for Drake. Pals finished 2-for-4 at the plate to put a cap on game one.
Nicole Timmons pitched for Drake and the Salukis played the Bulldogs a lot closer in the second game with Claire Miller in the pitching circle.
Drake got off to a quick 2-0 lead in the second inning thanks to Mandi Roemmich. With two outs, the junior fouled off four straight pitches before delivering an RBI single to score Sarah Maddox.
SIU answered right back in the second, thanks to a two-run single off the bat of Baranski. That brought up the No. 2 hitter Maddy Vermajen who delivered an RBI single to left field to put the Salukis in front 3-2.
In the fifth inning the game was tied at 5-5. Drake replaced Timmons with Newman in the circle to hold off the Saluki bats once again. She allowed just one hit and struck out four batters in the second game to make it 19 strikeouts between both games.
SIU put Jones back out in the circle to replace Miller after allowing the go-ahead runs for the Bulldogs putting them up 6-4 heading into the seventh inning.
With two outs in the sixth inning, it seemed SIU recorded their the third out of the inning. However, due to an illegal substitution by the Salukis, Drake got a second chance to redeem themselves with runners in scoring position. Taryn Pena drove in the go-ahead run to give the Bulldogs the lead to ultimately win the second game 6-4.
“I thought we had a pretty good approach but we have to play error-free baseball to beat a team like Drake,” said Blaylock.
SIU hosts Drake today at noon in the final game of the series.