Wichita State softball utilized offensive balance Sunday to complete a three-game sweep over Missouri Valley preseason favorite Drake.
The Shockers pounded out 14 hits – six from the 6-9 hitters to go with eight from the 1-4 hitters – in an 8-4 victory over the Bulldogs at Wilkins Stadium. It was WSU’s eighth straight victory over Drake, dating to the 2015 season.
Laurie Derrico sparked the attack from the No. 3 spot, going 3-4 with 3 RBIs, capping her day with a two-run single in the sixth that provided the final margin and boosted her team-leading RBI total to 27.
But extra-base hits were the domain of the bottom of the order. No. 7 hitter Paige Luellen broke out of a slump with a solo homer, her sixth of the season, tying Derrico for the team lead. No. 6 hitter Mauriana Jamele went 2 for 3 with a double, and Ashley Johnson tripled in the No. 8 hole. Jamele’s other hit was a pop foul that blew back fair and resulted in an RBI single.
The insertion of junior Mackenzie Adams at No. 9 paid big dividends for coach Kristi Bredbenner and the Shockers (15-10, 3-0). Adams doubled in Johnson in the second and followed that up with a single in the sixth, raising her batting average to .320.
“We just have to be scrappy,” Adams said. “We know they’re going to try to attack our lineup, so we’re going to try to do whatever we can. It might not always be the prettiest, but if I can poke it into a hole, I poke it into a hole.”
Senior left fielder Kelli Spring has been solid in the field but also sparkling at the plate – especially when a bunt is required. She sacrificed in the first, setting up Mackenzie Wright to score WSU’s first run. Her bunting prowess also produced Shocker runs in the fifth and sixth. In the fifth, Drake first baseman threw wildly on Spring’s bunt, and Wright scored all the way from first – just as she did during Saturday’s doubleheader. And in the sixth, she beat out a bunt and scored behind Wright on Derrico’s RBI single.
Spring said bunting helps her capitalize on her speed.
“With the bunts, I know that it’s a hard play to have to get rid of it quick, so I take advantage of it,” she said. “When I see that the third baseman is slightly back, I drop it and make them make a play.”
It was a great weekend for senior pitcher Katie Malone, who capped her 3-0 effort with a five-hit outing and allowing no earned runs to the Bulldogs.
“It was great that we came out and were firing on all cylinders,” Malone said. “We kind of wanted to show that we were No. 1 in the conference.”
Bredbenner said Malone’s success was a key.
“She set the tone for us this weekend at the beginning of the year for the conference,” Bredbenner said. “I think she gets overlooked, doesn’t get a lot of credit for some of our success, and I think the bottom line is she kept us in the game, and our offense is one of the things that really makes her comfortable. We did a better job (Sunday) of making her comfortable in the circle, even when we got in some trouble.”
4 5 2
8 14 3
W – Malone (13-6). L – Smith (7-7). HR –WSU, Luellen.
WSU batting: Wright 2-4, Spring 2-3, Derrico 3-4, Perrigan 1-2, Hitz 0-3, Jamele 2-3, Luellen 1-3, Johnson 1-3, Adams 2-3, Kelsheimer 0-1.
WSU pitching: Malone 7 IP-0 ER.