Saturday, May 13Game 7 – Winner of Game 5 vs. Winner of Game 6, 1 p.m.Print Friendly Version NORMAL, Ill. – The Drake University softball team is the No. 6 seed for the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament hosted by Illinois State and starts tournament play Thursday. Drake will play No. 7 seed Missouri State at 1:30 p.m. and the winner will advance to Friday’s quarterfinal game against No. 3 Southern Illinois at 1:30 p.m. Drake took two games over Missouri State in a weather-shortened series on April 28. The Bulldogs rallied for a 3-1 win in the first game and then edged the Bears, 1-0, in the next game. SIU swept Drake in a three-game series in Carbondale, Ill., March 25-26 by scores of 1-0, 6-2, 6-1. If the Bulldogs are able to win their first two games in Normal, they will play host and No. 2 seed, Illinois State, Friday at 6:30 p.m. The Redbirds swept the Bulldogs in Des Moines, April 14-15. Drake (28-26, 11-15 MVC) rebounded from a 3-14 start to league play with victories in eight of its final nine games to clinch a spot in the tournament. The top eight teams in the final regular season standings qualify for the MVC Tournament. Drake has made the MVC Tournament in 13 seasons out of the 15 that head coach Rich Calvert has guided the program. The Bulldogs are vying for their fourth MVC Tournament crown in program history (1993, 1994, 2008). The winner of the three day, single elimination tournament earns the league’s automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament, where Drake has been to twice in 1994 and 2008. The 2016 team finished runner up to Wichita State at the MVC Championship. Friday, May 12Game 3 – Winner of Game 1 vs. No. 4 Wichita State, 11 a.m.Game 4 – Winner of Game 2 vs. No. 3 Southern Illinois, 1:30 p.m.Game 5 – Winner of Game 3 vs. No. 1 Northern Iowa, 4 p.m.Game 6 – Winner of Game 4 vs. No. 2 Illinois State, 6:30 p.m. Thursday, May 11Game 1 – No. 5 Evansville vs. No. 8 Loyola, 11 a.m.Game 2 – No. 6 Drake vs. No. 7 Missouri State, 1:30 p.m. Junior pitcher Kailee Smith (Murrieta, Calif.) helped spark the strong finish to the regular season. In the final 10 games, including nine MVC contests, she went 7-1, including tossing the program’s first perfect since 2005 in the final game of the year, an 8-0 win over Loyola in five innings. In nine appearances, Smith allowed just seven earned runs with 23 strikeouts and eight walks. On the season, she is 18-16 overall with a 3.31 earned run average and 91 strikeouts. At the plate, Drake is led by a pair of freshman in Sarah Maddox (Henderson, Nev.) and Mandi Roemmich (West Des Moines, Iowa). Maddox, who has started all 54 games this season at first base, is hitting .302 and has smashed a team-high nine home runs and driven in a team-best 34 runs. Roemmich has played in 48 games, including starting the final 37 games of the regular season at shortstop. The local product from West Des Moines Valley set the table for Drake’s offense in the leadoff spot with a team-leading .388 batting average. Roemmich raised her play in MVC action with a .432 batting average, which ranks second in the league. She has a team-leading 11 doubles, 52 hits and a .481 on-base percentage and is tied for the team lead in runs scored with 26. The entire 2017 MVC Tournament schedule follows. Every game of the MVC Tournament will be broadcast online via The Valley on ESPN3. Two older Bulldogs have also hit the ball well during the team’s turnaround. Junior Tasha Alexander (Eddyville, Iowa), who missed two weeks with a broken nose suffered in the Indiana State series, returned April 15 against Illinois State and is batting .296 and is on a five-game hitting streak. Senior Megan Sowa (Gurnee, Ill.) is also hitting .296 and has recorded at least one hit in 10 of the past 12 games. Sowa has four home runs, nine doubles, 23 runs batted in and has drawn a team-leading 27 walks.