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Softball superstar Ivie Drake continues improvement

Returning from a successful season as a freshman, Drake prepares to take on a new season with her fellow Panthers. Photo by: Dayne Francis
Returning from a successful season as a freshman, Drake prepares to take on a new season with her fellow Panthers.
Photo by: Dayne Francis

Georgia State students and sports fans may be familiar with some of the school’s prominent athletes and biggest stars.

There is a young name that is making a name of their own and will soon be mentioned with the names of Georgia State stars like Nick Arbuckle, Deidra Bohannon, J.J. Grey, Kevin Ware, Ashley Nagy, Rashid Alarpe and Ryan Blanton.

Sophomore softball player Ivie Drake is that name. Drake is coming off one of the best seasons by a freshman in Panthers’ history, in fact, one of the best seasons by any player in Georgia State softball history, regardless of age.

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Drake’s freshman season brought many expectations with it. The thoughts of her being even better than last season and topping last season’s success.

Expectations, complacency, are dangerous temptations for young athletes that look to avoid the dreaded sophomore slump.

Not Drake, she is handling the new expectations by simply continuing what she did to make her successful in the first place which is working hard.

Drake also has to remind herself, and this is a whole new season and last year means little now that she is no longer an unknown to the competition.

“I just keep working hard at practice. I have to keep telling myself not to think about last year and to focus on the new season. We had a good year, but our goals are to do even better this season and play in the postseason,” Drake said.

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Though in order to achieve success again and improve in 2015-2016 Drake is looking forward, but the immense talent that is packed into the sophomore slugger is evident and can’t be ignored.

The 5 foot 8 inch Carlton Georgia native lit the Georgia State record book a blaze last season as a true freshman.

Drake set Georgia State single-season records for batting average with a .462 average, hits with 85, home runs with 22, run batted in 67, runs scored with 59, slugging percentage with a percentage of .918.

She also set several single-game records for home runs with three on March 14 against Texas State. In the same game, Drake broke the most total bases in a single game record with 12.

In addition to the offensive output, Drake brought good defense and broke the Panthers’ record for most runners thrown out in a game with three on April 26 against the University of Louisiana-Monroe.

Drake was named the 2015 Sun Belt freshman of the year and was a National freshman of the year finalist. She was named second team All-American and First-Team All-Sun Belt.

If the on-field production wasn’t enough, Drake also was a Dean’s list student for fall 2014 and spring 2015.

Drake’s resume can already stand up to any athlete on Georgia State’s campus, or any campus in North America.

 

Home Cooking

 

Drake has her eyes set on being better in 2015-2016 and to do so, she looked to a familiar place this offseason; Carlton Georgia.

She spent some time at home over the offseason and got some time with her family.

“I’m definitely a home body. I went there and stayed the whole time. Right after we got back from season last year, like the day after I went home and didn’t come back until when I had to, the last day I could,” Drake said.

Drake’s time with her family provided her with a period of time to cool down and recoup after her highly successful freshman season.

There is a close bond that is shared within the Drake household that allowed for her to let go for a while and have a little fun.

“I like spending time with my family. We have a good time. We’re all crazy, so there’s never a dull moment in the Drake house. I mean I missed Atlanta and I missed all the girls but it was good,” Drake said.

Drake also used her time at home to get some work done and worked on her craft as a softball player. She took the time to run, lift, throw, and hit on her own.

“Sometimes I went to the cages by myself. I just hit off the tee. I really can’t throw to myself obviously, but I just worked a little bit on the tee, which I have fields around my house, so it was kind of easy,” Drake said.

Drake also got to work with her dad in the offseason, someone that has been helping her with her skills from the very start.

“He helps me a lot. Whenever he’d get off work we’d throw, we’d do something, I mean I guess that this doesn’t really count as practicing, but we’d go on little walks just to try to stay active and stuff. We threw a lot, and he went to the cages a lot and he threw to me and stuff,” Drake said.

Drake had a few things she thought that she needed to improve on going into the season. The main thing offensively was that she wanted to become more selective at the plate when facing opposing pitching.

This like most other parts of her skillset is also already good as she had the fifth most walks in a season by a Georgia State player with 34 in 2015.

Though, it wasn’t record-breaking pace like every other statistical category in the Georgia State record book that Drake elegantly rewrote in 2015.

Drake figures she can be better and see better pitches that could elevate her walk numbers hit numbers and who knows what else with her immense talent and work ethic.

Drake acknowledges that she does get a little anxious at the plate and thinks that calming herself and becoming more patient will grow her into an even better player.

“I think I’m going to have to be really selective. I get really anxious up to bat,” Drake said.

She got a lot of work in the offseason at home with her father pitching to her and learning to be more selective at the plate.

“With my dad, he’s not the best pitcher. So if one comes you really have to advantage of that one. Because I don’t know how many more like that are going to come. With him pitching to me, he got me looking at different pitches, and he tries to do all this crazy stuff,” Drake said.

Drake will continue to get stronger and become more patient and become a household name in the Georgia State sports world. Her time at home has helped her hone recoup after her big first season, and now she is back ready to help the Panthers win big in 2016.

The season kicks off in the spring, but the Panthers have played six scrimmage games in the fall to get back into the swing of things for what appears to be a promising 2016 season.

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