GREENSBORO, N.C. – The Drexel softball team returned to the diamond on Friday after a 12-day layoff, taking part in the Spartan Classic at UNC-Greensboro. In the first day of the tournament, the Dragons split their two games, getting their first victory of the season in the opener as they drubbed Rider, 7-0, then falling to Utah in a rain-shortened nightcap, 8-2.
Paige Collings and Jenn Reading each homered in the Dragons' victory in the first game. For Reading, it was her second round-tripper of the season. Hillary Allen got the victory, throwing a complete-game, four-hit shutout of the Broncs, to improve to 1-2.
Shelby Taylor was tagged with the loss in the second game, dropping to 0-3. The game was called due to intense rain in the area in the top of the sixth inning.
The opener got off to a quick start for Drexel (1-5). After Allen worked around a leadoff single in the top of the first, the Dragons took advantage of a Rider mistake to take a 2-0 lead in the bottom half of the inning. With one out and no one on, Devon Metcalf swung and missed at strike three, but Rider catcher Sam Pugh couldn't hold on. The ball trickled back to the backstop, and as Pugh tried to locate it, the speedy Metcalf raced to first safely. Moments later, Collings launched a Rachael Matreale offering up and out to left field, her first home run of the season.
Collings, who set the Drexel record with nine home runs last season, now has 21 in her career. She needs four more to tie Ashley Botelho for the all-time career home run record at Drexel.
After a 1-2-3 top of the second, the Dragons extended their lead with a three-run bottom of the second. With one away, Caprice DeMirjian was hit by a pitch. After a fly out, Hanna Parrish stroked a hard grounder back through the box and into center field for a single. Metcalf then walked to load the bases for Collings, who responded with a bases-clearing double laced down the left field line.
Collings would have a hand in all of the Dragons' scoring innings. In the fifth, she walked ahead of Reading to lead off the inning. After Elena Fravel pinch ran for Collings, the junior first baseman Reading promptly launched a blast to straightaway center, her second home run of the year to provide the final 7-0 inning.
Throughout, Allen put together her best outing of the young season, scattering four singles as she cruised to the complete game shutout. No Broncs baserunner advanced past first base. Leadoff hitter Kelhi Washington singled and was caught trying to steal second in the top of the first, but no one else tested the arm of Collings behind the plate. Allen finished with four strikeouts and just one walk.
In the second game, Utah jumped on the Dragons early. With Shelby Taylor on the mound for the Dragons, Utah got a run in the first, a run in the second and three in the third to force head coach Kim Camara to go to her bullpen.
Drexel manufactured a run to get on the board in the bottom of the third. DeMirjian walked to lead the frame off, moving to second on Comfort Ahonkhai's sacrifice bunt. DeMirjian moved up another station on Parrish's groundout, and scored on a passed ball with Metcalf at the plate.
In the fifth, after Utah had scored three more runs in the top of the fourth, Maddison Timoteo doubled to the gap in left-center field to lead things off. With Fravel pinch running, two straight Dragons popped out foul to the Utes' catcher. With two away and Fravel still on second, Parrish ripped a single back up the middle, pushing Fravel up to third. Metcalf then chopped a grounder towards third, tearing down the first base line to beat the throw. Fravel scored on the play, making it 8-2 Utah.
The Dragons will continue in Greensboro tomorrow, starting the day against the host Spartans at 1:00 p.m. Their second game of the day will be the start of championship play in the tournament, with matchups to be determined at the conclusion of round robin competition.