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Softball ends losing streak with win over Drake

Braves end eight game drought in a series split with the Bulldogs over the weekend
The softball team snapped an eight-game losing skid last weekend, as it topped Drake 5-1 in the second half of a doubleheader on Saturday at Laura Bradley Park.
After the Braves were beaten 2-1 in the first game of the day, they rebounded by putting five runs on the board for the first time since the team’s 9-8 win over Northern Iowa on April 1.
“We had kind of gotten into a little bit of a rut,” coach Amy Hayes said. “But they found a way this weekend. They stuck with it and when they got a break, they rolled with it, which is what we need to do.”
Drake got out to an early lead in the first game of the day, as Elena Leon knocked a pitch from sophomore Katie Dennis out of the ballpark to lead off the game and put the Bulldogs ahead 1-0.
That lead didn’t stand for long, as senior shortstop Miriam Wegmann singled to lead off the Bradley half of the first inning. She was later knocked in by junior Jackie Vitale’s two-out single to tie the game.
After a scoreless second inning, Leon again reached base in the top of the third and would eventually come around to score the only other run Drake would need.
Dennis suffered the loss for Bradley and fell to 3-8 on the season after tossing four and two-thirds innings of two-hit ball and striking out four.
Junior Amanda Clack came in and pitched two-and-a-third innings of scoreless relief and would stay in the circle to start the second game as well.
Clack dealt two-plus innings in Game 2 of the doubleheader, but was taken out in the top of the third inning after allowing Leon to score her third run of the day on a sacrifice bunt by Torey Craddock.
“We kept going with Clack because she was throwing well and had a really good presence on the mound,” Hayes said. “She really threw the way she can throw.”
Senior pitcher Ashley Birdsong entered the game with no outs and runners on first and third, but was able to shut down the Bulldog offense. Birdsong would end up throwing five scoreless innings, allowing four hits and striking out five on the way to picking up her 10th win of the year.
“Birdie is our No. 1,” Hayes said. “She needs to be able to step in the circle and shut the door.”
The Bradley offense only scored six runs during the Braves’ four-game home stand, but five of them came in Game 2 of Saturday’s action.
Vitale got Bradley going in the bottom of the fourth inning with an RBI double that drove in pinch-running freshman Julie Sherman. Vitale would later score on a wild pitch to give Bradley a 2-1 lead.
After the Braves were able to push another run across on a Drake throwing error in the fifth inning, the Bradley bats struck again in the bottom of the sixth. Vitale drove in junior Lindsay Watkins for her second RBI of the game and third of the day.
Vitale was then driven in for her second run of the doubleheader when Clack pulled a single into left field.
The win moved Bradley to 16-22 overall and 7-9 in Missouri Valley Conference play with eight conference games to play.
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