Drury Jokes, Reaches State Quarter-Finals
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. – The Drury softball team kept things light, and the Blue Devils’ heavy hitter delivered.
Brooke Bishop pounded out three doubles and crossed the plate three times Wednesday to lead Drury to a 4-2 win over Oxford in the Division 5 State Tournament Sweet 16.
Eighth-seeded Drury (17-5) earned the right to take on No. 1 Greenfield (18-5) on Friday night for a spot in the Final Four.
Three days after earning the first state tournament win in the history of the program, the Blue Devils were loose and relaxed at Francis Millard Field.
“We wanted to have fun,” Drury coach Michelle Darling said. “It’s the first time we made it to the [Round of] 16. Now we’re in the 8, which is a first for us. We had a lot of firsts this year. And they play better when they’re loose.
“So we try to joke around and have some laughs before the game, which is really nice.”
The Blue Devils were laughing at the start of the game as well.
After Olivia Perry (eight strikeouts) worked around an infield single in a scoreless top of the first, Bishop belted her first double (and 101st career hit) with two out in the bottom of the inning.
Perry then drove Bishop in with an infield single. The Pirates attempted to get Perry at first, allowing Bishop to race home; when a throw home failed to stop the run, Perry attempted to get to second but was thrown out by Oxford’s Anna Heroux to end the inning.
The next time Bishop stepped into the batter's box, she led off the fourth inning with a double to right-center. She then stole third and scored when Marley Brothers reached on an error to give Drury a 2-0 lead.
The Blue Devils had that lead on the strength of just three hits against Oxford pitcher MacKenzie Evers.
“She had speed on her,” Bishop said. “From our league, we don’t face many pitchers with speed. Once everyone started hitting her, it went well from there – once we put the bat on the ball.”
Oxford (15-8) got a run back in the top of the fifth when Heroux launched a home run over the fence in center field with one out.
The Pirates got their sixth hit of the game later in the inning, but Perry closed the door with a strikeout.
The Blue Devils, who allowed nearly seven runs per game in their last four outings coming in, gave up just a pair on Wednesday.
“I think Olivia was really hot in the circle, but Brooke [Bishop] is the one who calls the game and makes a really good target back there,” Darling said. “They work so well together. It’s like my 1-2.”
Bishop again led off to start the top of the sixth and again doubled, this time to left center.
Perry and Wood then reached safely to load the bases, and Marley Brothers hit a sacrifice fly to center field to score Bishop and make it 3-1.
Perry’s courtesy runner, Emily Lyons, ended up scoring on a pitch that got to the backstop to give Drury a three-run cushion heading to the top of the seventh.
That inning started with the defensive play of the game when Drury first baseman Brothers tracked down a foul pop up and made a catch against the fence.
“The kids really dug in deep,” Darling said. “That catch Marley made is what Marley is capable of all the time. Today she stepped up. There is no way she wanted to lose today.”
An error and an RBI single from Oxford’s Kyra Krasinskas got the Pirates within two, but Perry ended the game by inducing a ground ball to Rachael Barrows at third.
Next up for the Blue Devils is the reigning Class C Western Mass Champion and Division 5 State Champion Green Wave, which beat its first two opponents in this year’s state tourney by a combined margin of 25-1.
Darling indicated that Drury will continue to have fun on Friday.
“Hopefully, the sun is out, and we give them a good game,” she said. “I’m always hoping for the best.”