No. 4 Duke softball continues 16-game unbeaten run, shuts out Syracuse in all 3 games of weekend series

Duke put on a pitching and fielding clinic over the weekend against Syracuse.
Duke put on a pitching and fielding clinic over the weekend against Syracuse.

It was a weekend of sixteens for the Blue Devils, tallying 16 unanswered runs en route to a 16-game winning streak. 

In their first crack at conference opposition, No. 7 Duke proved more than up to the task against Syracuse, conceding zero runs across three games. Although the offense began its descent back to Earth, failing to mercy rule the Orange in any of the three games, the weekend was characterized by nothing other than complete dominance as the Blue Devils swept without issue. 

“We talk a lot about consistency and playing Duke softball,” said head coach Marissa Young. “I think the girls have really bought into that and you’re seeing that show … It’s really difficult to beat a team three times.” 

And bought into it they did. Especially on the defensive side of the ball, Duke (16-1, 3-0 in the ACC) was the pinnacle of consistency — exuding an air of confidence and assuredness on the field. In the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader, senior pitcher Jala Wright got the nod for the Devils. Logging five strikeouts and allowing only one hit in six innings, her efforts were more than enough to stifle the Syracuse (8-9, 0-3) offense. 

Seniors Claire Davidson and Francesca Frelick led the way on offense, with the former logging three RBIs on a solo shot and a double while the latter drove in another two with a groundout and a single. Coupled with the goose egg (courtesy of Wright and sophomore Sophie Garner-MacKinnon), Duke cruised to a 7-0 victory in the first game. 

“I have finally taken the pressure off myself, it’s my senior year — I just want to go out with a bang,” Wright said. 

Her pitching lacks strain, as her start to the season has been nothing short of blistering. The two outings this weekend brought her to 7-0 on the season with a 0.37 ERA, and lowered her WHIP to 0.53.

A mere thirty minutes after the conclusion of Friday’s game, fans were exposed to much of the same. With sophomore Cassidy Curd standing in the circle for the Blue Devils, Duke looked to take the series in two games. The story on offense was once again written by Frelick and Davidson, with each of them notching two RBIs. Sophomore D’Auna Jennings and redshirt sophomore Jada Baker would add an RBI each, accounting for all six of Duke’s game-two runs. 

Curd, in a manner not dissimilar to Wright, completely subdued the Orange offense. She threw for five innings, allowing no runs on two hits and striking out a whopping nine batters. The baton would then switch hands to graduate transfer Dani Drogemuller, who would close out the next two innings and earn the Blue Devils another shutout victory, 6-0. 

Through these two games alone, it became as clear as the sky above Duke Softball Stadium that the Blue Devils’ defense was a force to be reckoned with. Although the pitchers were undoubtedly at the forefront of these efforts, they were supported by an outstanding fielding core. 

“No anxiety, no nervousness washed over me,” Wright said of the reliability of her fielders. “I just knew that I needed to roll a ground ball and they had my back.” 

This reliability would hold through Sunday, as the Blue Devils posited yet another elite performance on defense. Wright led the way from the mound in her second start of the weekend, splitting the seven innings with fellow senior Lillie Walker to hold Syracuse to zero runs on the series.

“The ACC and everybody else needs to be on notice. We have the best pitching staff in the country,” Wright said. If they continue to pitch the way that they did this weekend, she might not be exaggerating. 

A three-run triple from graduate student Gisele Tapia would be Duke’s lone entry on the scoresheet in this game, but the defense would ensure that this was enough. The match would end 3-0 in favor of the Blue Devils, who would outscore the Orange 16-0 through the three-game series. 

“Every game matters in getting us to where we want to be as ACC champions and moving on,” Young said Sunday.

The Blue Devils will look to keep firing on all cylinders Tuesday, as they head to Hunt Park in Elon, N.C., to take on the Phoenix.


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