HILLSBORO, Kan. – Junior second baseman Leah Kalkwarf picked up where she left off in 2017 while leading the Bulldog bats in a season-opening doubleheader split at Tabor College on Saturday afternoon (Feb. 17). The Concordia University softball team rebounded from a 5-4 loss in game 1 with a 15-6 run-rule shortened win in game 2 in Hillsboro, Kan.
Fifth-year head coach Todd LaVelle’s squad is coming off a 34-14 campaign in 2017. The Bulldogs made a solid debut while showcasing a lineup chalk full of newcomers.
“We hit really well,” LaVelle said. “That’s been a point of emphasis in the last six to eight weeks. I thought we executed really well. We just have to clean up the errors on the defensive side. I felt like the pitching staff did well enough to win both games. We have to shore up our defense, but we did play all 16 girls today. We’re still looking at a lot of different things.”
Kalkwarf rapped out five hits on the day, including a home run as part of the game 2 victory. The returning first team all-conference performer led the way for a squad that knocked three balls over the fence in the win. Freshmen corner infielders Hhana Haro and Tori Homolka both went deep. Haro connected for a grand slam and Homolka blasted a three-run homer. They were two of four freshmen starters on Saturday.
In the circle, sophomore Baily Clear started the opener and also got the final two outs of the capper. All five runs that Clear surrendered in the first game were unearned due to a sloppy defensive inning that saw a 3-0 Concordia lead melt away. Delaney Nance and Grace Bernhardt also got work in the circle.
Bulldog hitters combined for 18 hits and 16 walks on the day. LaVelle’s lineup included additional newcomers such as Allysia Thayer at catcher, Mackinsey Schmidt in center field and Kenna Heath in right field.
The Bulldogs will remain in the state of Kansas for Sunday’s doubleheader at Kansas Wesleyan University in Salina, Kan. First pitch will be at 2 p.m. CT. The Coyotes went 35-14 overall last season and reached the national tournament. Two of their losses came at the hand of Concordia last April in Seward.