SIOUX CENTER, Iowa – The most successful regular season run during head coach Todd LaVelle’s four-year tenure leading Concordia University softball concluded on Saturday with a doubleheader split at Dordt. After an 8-6 loss in game 1, the Bulldogs responded by drubbing the Defenders, 13-2, in game 2.
Unfortunately, the slip up in game 1 opened the door for Hastings to sneak past Concordia for the No. 2 seed in next week’s conference tournament. The Bulldogs completed the regular season in a tie for second place. Their records stand at 32-12 overall and at 14-6 in the GPAC.
“We lost that first game but what our girls do well is regroup,” LaVelle said. “We needed to get the next one. Our big inning came with two outs. We strung a bunch of hits together and the confidence was back. We really wanted to finish off the season with two wins and get the No. 2 seed, but it’s not anything we can’t overcome.”
The heart of the Concordia order played long ball in game 2. Kylie Harpst, Leah Kalkwarf and Michaela Woodward all went deep once apiece. Those three combined to go 10-for-13 with seven runs and 11 RBIs in the season finale. Harpst went 4-for-5 with three runs scored, five RBIs and was a double shy of hitting for the cycle. For Kalkwarf (5-for-9 on the day), it was simply a continuation of what’s been a torrid second half of her sophomore season.
The Bulldogs rapped out 18 hits in game 2. Diana Mendoza joined Harpst, Kalkwarf and Woodward as Bulldogs with three or more hits in the contest. Eight of Concordia’s nine starters collected at least one hit while helping put up crooked numbers in three frames (three in the third, four in the fourth and four in the seventh).
Concordia made a late push in game 1 after digging a 6-0 hole. The Bulldogs got a run back in the fourth and then struck for five in the sixth to tie it up, 6-6. An error on the Dordt shortstop allowed a pair of runs to score, tying the contest. However, the Defenders (19-18, 12-8 GPAC) got two in the bottom half and then slammed the door by setting Concordia down in order in the seventh.
LaVelle used three different pitchers in game 1. Woodward started and went 4.2 innings, allowing six runs (four earned) on eight hits. Harpst then tossed a complete game in the second contest. She scattered eight hits while improving her record to 11-2.
Despite the game 1 loss, the Bulldogs have established themselves as a viable postseason threat. Their 32 wins are tied for the fourth most in a single season in program history. At 14-6 in league play, Concordia has made a four-game improvement compared to 2016.
“We’re happy that we’ve taken steps in the right direction,” LaVelle said. “The girls work extremely hard. Now we’re at the time of the season when it really matters in the postseason.”
The postseason will start Friday, May 5 when the third-seeded Bulldogs take on Dakota Wesleyan (19-32, 9-11 GPAC) in Hastings at 12 p.m. Concordia will also play at either 4 or 6 p.m. that same day as part of the double elimination format. For more details on the GPAC tournament, click HERE.