Bulldogs blast five home runs, go 1-1 on first day of GPAC tourney

By Jake Knabel on May. 5, 2017 in Softball

HASTINGS, Neb. – The Concordia University softball team took advantage of the launching pad that is the Smith Softball Complex in Hastings, Neb. The third-seeded Bulldogs totaled five home runs while defeating sixth-seeded Dakota Wesleyan, 3-2, before falling at the hands of host and seconded-Hastings, 4-3, in heartbreaking fashion.

The loss to the Broncos means fourth-year head coach Todd LaVelle’s squad will be fighting for its postseason life on Saturday. Concordia now stands at 33-13 overall.

“I really liked the girls’ attitudes in between games,” LaVelle said. “They were loose and taking a lot of initiative to get things done. I thought their mental preparation was spot on. We came in and played almost all seven innings really, really well. It was definitely a heartbreaker because I thought the girls played well enough to win.”

Woodward hit two of the team’s five long balls in Hastings. It looked like Woodward may end up the hero of the late afternoon contest when her monstrous solo blast in the top of the seventh provided a 3-2 advantage in the top of the seventh. Hopes of a perfect day were dashed when Cara Williams took Kylie Harpst deep with walk-off two-run homer.

As part of the 3-2 win over Dakota Wesleyan, Woodward, Leah Kalkwarf and Maddie Fousek each connected for solo blasts. The one hit by Fousek in the bottom of the sixth proved to be the game winner. An inning later, Woodward polished off a complete game that saw her allow only three hits, three walks and one earned run.

Harpst also gave her team a chance to win with a solid pitching performance against Hastings. She kept the Broncos off the scoreboard until the fourth inning when Mikaelah Molifua singled in the tying run. Neither team held a lead of more than a single run in a nailbiting contest. The walk-off homer made a winner out of Sarah Barger, who tossed a three-hit complete game.

The Bulldogs had only two hits all day that did not leave the ballpark. Harpst, Kalkwarf and Woodward each had one hit apiece in both of Friday’s games. One of the top players in program history, Woodward became the program’s single-season home run record holder on Friday. Her 10 big flies surpass the previous record of nine that had been shared by alum Clarissa Eloge and current Bulldog Autumn Owens.

Concordia will be in a win-or-go-home scenario from here on out in the Hastings Bracket. Up next is a 12 p.m. CT rematch with Dakota Wesleyan. The winner will then move on and play Hastings. Should the Bulldogs get past the Tigers, they will then have to defeat the Broncos twice in order to advance to the GPAC Championship Series (May 8). The two bracket winners will meet for a shot at the postseason title.

“We’ve been here before,” LaVelle said. “I still think we have the team to get this done. We can’t hang our heads. We have to come back here and fight for everything. It’s not going to be an easy road, but it’s a road that we’ve traveled many times. It can be done.”

HASTINGS BRACKET

Friday, May 5, 2017
Game #1 – (3) Concordia def. (6) Dakota Wesleyan, 3-2
Game #2 – (2) Hastings def. (7) College of Saint Mary, 6-0
Game #3 – (2) Hastings def. (3) Concordia, 4-3
Game #4 – (6) Dakota Wesleyan def. (7) College of Saint Mary, 7-6 (8 inn.)

Saturday, May 6, 2017
Game #5 – (3) Concordia vs. (6) Dakota Wesleyan, 12 p.m.
Game #6 – (2) Hastings vs. Winner Game #5, 2 p.m.
Game #7 – If necessary (Game #6 winner/loser), 4 p.m.

Monday, May 8, 2017
GPAC Championship Series – Morningside Bracket Winner vs. Hastings Bracket Winner
*Game times at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. (if necessary)
*Highest seed remaining hosts