CEDAR RAPIDS — The intentional walk disappointed Erin Drahozal, but she understood it. As a pitcher herself, she said, she’d have done the same thing.
“That’s a hard question,” she laughed after the Xavier Saints had swept a double-header against Iowa City High on Tuesday. “I was thinking, ‘Darn it, I really wanted to get a hit and help my team.’ But yeah, I would have done it.”
In the first inning of the opening game, the sophomore blasted a line drive to the center field fence, driving home the Saints’ first run of the game. That set the tone for what was to come: She dropped in another single in the fourth inning, and another blast for a base hit in the sixth.
Drahozal was such a threat that in the bottom of the decisive seventh inning, with two outs and the tying run on second base, City High elected to send her to first base rather than give her another chance to crush the ball.
Sophomore Morgan Breitbach made the Little Hawks pay with a two-RBI hit to shallow center field, giving Xavier a walk-off 3-2 win.
Drahozal didn’t rest when she wasn’t sending pitches to the fence. She was almost as good from the mound on Tuesday night as she was from the plate, allowing just 10 hits and three runs in 11 innings of work.
Drahozal put speed and power on her pitches, making it difficult for City High batters to get the ball out of the infield. In the night’s first game, the sophomore pitched all seven innings and allowed seven hits. She allowed two hits and a run in the third, but recovered by striking out two batters to limit the damage.
And she allowed just one hit in the final two innings as the Saints, ranked eighth in class 4A, climbed back to win.
Drahozal came back to start the night game on the mound, where she blew past City High batters for four innings. Before handing off hurling duties to senior Jacey Wiebold, Drahozal allowed just three hits, and kept the Little Hawks off the bases in two innings. The Saints went on to win the second game 11-3.
Saints coach Nikki Price said Drahozal has matured mentally in her second season, gaining the ability to “separate the two worlds” of hitting and pitching.
“She’s getting the experience and understanding some things, and she’s definitely grown,” Price said. “She doesn’t let a bad inning of pitching affect her hitting.”
Drahozal showed that maturity after she walked a runner and gave up two hits and a run in the opening game’s fifth inning. The next time she came up to the plate, she drilled a single down the left field line.
“You have to have a short memory,” she shrugged.
The Saints got big contributions in the second game from outfielder Sydney Galligan, who went 4-for-4 at the plate, and freshman Jamie Feltes, who hit a three-run homer. They also got another pair of RBIs from their starting pitcher.
“She did well,” Price said of Drahozal. “She’s become a very good pitcher and a very good hitter.”