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Softball bounces back with series win over Drake

Bradley softball’s Sydney Kennedy celebrates a successful inning on the mound in a win against Southern Illinois on April 7, 2024. Photo courtesy of Bradley Athletics.

Bradley softball (23-23, 12-9 MVC) faced Drake in a three-game series for their first and only matchups during the regular season.

The Braves took home two of the three games, in large part thanks to junior Sydney Kennedy, who pitched in every game. She also contributed four hits, three RBIs and scored four times throughout the weekend.

“She’s someone that wants the ball consistently,” head coach Sarah Willis said. “She’s capable of handling a lot of the workload, she’s a competitor, she’s someone that you can put into any situation and she’s going to do well, and she’s going to understand her role from a starting standpoint and a relief or closing standpoint.”

Run ruled the Bulldogs

Kennedy started in the opener, throwing all five innings and allowing one run on two hits while striking out seven Bulldogs as she earned her 15th win this season.

In the top of the first, junior Bailey Sample walked and Kennedy reached on a fielder’s choice to bring up junior Abbott Badgley, who singled to drive in Sample and give the Braves a 1-0 lead.

The Bulldogs (19-21, 7-10 MVC) tied it in the bottom of the first with a walk, a stolen base, an error and a wild pitch. The Braves retook the lead in the second as Kennedy reached on an error to score sophomore Ashley Breeding and junior Addie Welsh.

The lead was extended in the fifth when sophomore Kierston McCoy, Welsh and sophomore Lauren DeRolf all singled. Kennedy’s single to center drove in Welsh and McCoy, starting a six-run inning for Bradley that helped them run-rule the Bulldogs.

Badgley went 2-for-2 with two walks, an RBI and a run scored, while Kennedy had a 2-for-4 game with two RBIs and one run scored. Derolf went 1-for-3 with a walk and two runs scored. The Braves totaled 12 hits, five walks and three strikeouts.

DeRolf came up big this series offensively and defensively, reaching base at least once in every game while making a few clutch plays in the outfield.

“She’s a strong leadoff,” Willis said. “She’s someone that is going to have a lot of competitive at-bats … she’s a competitive person, and she finds herself in a lot of clutch opportunities and situations and a lot of times she’s going to find ways to get the job done.”

Extra innings conquest

In game two, senior Camryn Schaller started, pitching one-third of an inning and giving up two runs on three hits while walking one.

The Braves got things going in the top of the first once again, as DeRolf led off with a single and stole second, which allowed Kennedy to reach on a fielder’s choice that scored DeRolf. Graduate senior Tori Meyer and senior Macey Moore singled to load the bases for Breeding, who hit a sacrifice fly to score Kennedy. McCoy singled to left field to drive in Meyer and extended the lead to 3-0.

Drake responded in the bottom half with two singles and a walk to load the bases. They forced an error to drive in one and singled to score a second run to bring it to a 3-2 game.

After DeRolf reached on an error, Sample and Meyer’s doubles drove in one run each in the top of the second. Moore walked and McCoy reached first on an error to score Meyer and increase the lead to 6-4.

The Bulldogs scored three in the bottom of the third and tied the game in the bottom of the seventh to send it to extras.

Bradley prevailed in the top of the ninth, where Kennedy doubled to lead off the inning and sophomore Austin Comstock reached first on an error that scored Kennedy to give the Braves a 7-6 lead that held for the rest of the game.

Meyer had a 2-for-4 game with an RBI and two runs. Welsh went 3-for-3 with a walk. DeRolf was 1-for-5 while scoring twice and in the field, she robbed a home run in the bottom of the seventh that would have walked it off for the Bulldogs. The Braves totaled seven runs on 11 hits with two walks and two strikeouts.

On the mound, Badgley pitched five and two-third, yielding four runs on six hits while walking three and striking out five. Kennedy earned her 16th win of the season when she came on in relief, allowing no runs, four hits and striking out two. Bradley gave up six runs on 13 hits while walking four and striking out seven.

Homers down Braves

The Braves could not take home the sweep in game three. Kennedy got the start, pitching four and a third and allowing seven runs on five hits with three walks and one strikeout to take her tenth loss of the season.

The Braves struck first once again to start the game. DeRolf and Sample singled, which set up Badgley to hit a bases-clearing double to give the Braves an early 2-0 lead. Drake hit a solo homer in the bottom half of the inning to cut the deficit in half.

The Bulldogs proceeded to take the lead in the bottom of the second with a two-run home run to make the score 3-2.

The game got out of hand in the fifth when the Bulldogs put up six runs, one on a passed ball, two on a single to right field, another one on a single and two more on a bases-clearing double to put the home team up 9-2.

Bradley got one back in the top of the sixth. DeRolf singled to lead off the inning, Sample forced DeRolf out at second, a pitch hit Badgley and a single from Meyer scored Sample to make the score 9-3.

DeRolf went 2-for-4 and scored once, Sample went 1-for-3 and scored twice and Badgley went 1-for-2 with two RBI. The Braves totaled three runs on six hits with no walks and four strikeouts.

Badgley pitched one and two-thirds, allowing two runs on four hits with one walk and no strikeouts. Bradley gave up nine runs on nine hits with four walks and one strikeout in the series’s final game.

“Everyone’s not always going to be on or have the outing they’re expected to have,” Willis said. “I think where we fell short in that game more than anything was our offensive production at the plate … we really gave them a solid four innings of just easy outs and low pitch counts and that’s one thing we got to do a better job of offensively.”

The Braves have eight games left in the regular season, and each one is extremely important as they get closer and closer to the MVC Tournament.

“Every conference game at this point counts,” Willis said. “When you’re coming up to the end of the season and you only have so many games left to take care of, it always helps to clarify what the job entails and what you’ve got to get done.”

The Braves will play Eastern Illinois at home in a doubleheader on April 24.

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