The Drake and Northern Iowa softball teams travel to Wichita this week for Thursday’s start of the Missouri Valley Conference tournament. Drake captured its first regular season title since 1993 but coach Rich Calvert says the Bulldogs will need to win the league tournament to play in an NCAA regional.
“Our league this year is going to get one bid, and that’ll go to the tournament winner. We have some good teams, we just haven’t done enough to be one of those at-large teams this year,” Calvert says.
Drake rode the pitching combination of senior Beka Schmidt and freshman Nicole Newman to post a 32-20 regular season mark. Calvert says while pitching is a strength it has been a total team effort as he says all players in the lineup have stepped up at the plate at some time during the season.
As the top seed Drake has a bye into Friday’s semifinal round. UNI is the third seed after posting a 15-10 Valley mark.
Panther coach Ryan Jacobs says they have a tradition of playing well after finals. UNI opens Thursday in a quarterfinal round game.
Jacobs feels the Panthers are playing well at the right time as they have improved offensively as the season has gone on.