Dragon slays bats as Knights go 3-1

Don’t call it a Cinderella story.

Despite the fact that coach Tom Jakubowski said many people weren’t expecting the Gannon University softball team to advance deep into the postseason this year, the Knights have not only earned a spot in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Tournament, they still have a shot at an NCAA Tournament bid.

“That would be a dream come true,” Jakubowski said. “If someone told me at the beginning of the season we’d have a shot at the NCAAs I’d have told them, ‘You’re crazy.’”

Though Gannon was only able to earn a split during a doubleheader with Slippery Rock University Thursday, it was enough to secure a PSAC Tournament berth. Gannon won the first game 4-2 and lost the second 4-3.

Gannon went on to roll past Edinboro University during Sunday’s rescheduled doubleheader by scores of 3-0 and 5-2.

Junior pitcher Megan Dragon led the Knights in Sunday’s opening game for her third consecutive win, nearly throwing a perfect seven innings before giving up a double in the top of the seventh.

“She just dominated,” Jakubowski said.

Dragon struck out 12 Fighting Scots and didn’t allow one walk, a performance that earned her second PSAC Pitcher of the Week award this season – the sixth of her career. This feat is something Dragon said she strives for each week.

“It was a little upsetting giving up that one hit, but it felt really good,” she said. “I moved the ball around and my rise ball was on.”

Dragon’s performance was welcomed by Jakubowski, who said Gannon’s pitching had hit a rough patch in several of the games prior.

“We had pitched in warm weather a lot. The spring was so nice here and down in Florida, then when it got cold we struggled but now we’ve seemed to acclimate,” he said. “In the cold you grip the ball differently, it feels different in your hand, the spin on the ball is different. It’s an adjustment and our pitchers have made it.”

The second game of the day was a come from behind victory for the Knights, who were also celebrating senior day. To honor senior day, Jakubowski said he played all of the seniors and that they rose to the occasion.

“The fact that they came through and won that game for us was really neat.”

Dragon also said that this year’s seniors will be missed.

“They brought a lot to the table,” Dragon said. “Heart, dedication, desire, intensity, and they all contributed in different ways at different times.”

Jakubowski said that this group of seniors, who came into the program with him four years ago “when things weren’t going very well,” bring a strong ethic to the team that will be missed.

“They helped make this a team, not just a group of individuals,” he said. “They sacrificed for the good of the team, but when they were called upon they were ready. And it showed in the last game.”

The Knights, who are currently ranked seventh in the NCAA Atlantic Regional rankings, will begin postseason play Wednesday with a 1 p.m. matchup against Bloomsburg University, the No. 2 seed from the Central Division. The game will be held in Driften, Pa.

Jakubowski said that though the Knights have not played Bloomsburg this season, they know they are up against a tough contender.

“We’ll have our hands full, but we seem to rise to the occasion,” he said. “We’ll be ready to go, I’m not worried.”

Dragon also said that she is confident the team will continue to perform in the postseason.

“Our defense and offense have been solid,” she said. “If we play like we have been, we’ll be good.”



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