SEWARD, Neb. – A group of four Bulldogs were named to the 2017 All-Nebraska softball team announced late last week (June 17) by the Omaha World-Herald. Another three members of head coach Todd LaVelle’s program were also recognized as honorable mention selections by the Omaha news outlet. The Concordia softball team 34-14 overall, tied for second place in the conference standings and was one of the final four squads left in the GPAC tournament.
Representing the Bulldogs on the All-Nebraska team were seniors Kylie Harpst, Megan Ruppert and Michaela Woodward and sophomore Leah Kalkwarf. Honorable mention went to junior Autumn Owens, sophomore Jamie Lefebure and freshman Ronee Watson.
Woodward (Cortland, Neb.) departed from Seward as one of the program’s all-time great two-way players. A big weekend at the GPAC tournament pushed Woodward to 11 home runs for the year, giving her sole possession of the school single-season home run record. She also batted .338 with 38 RBIs and a .642 slugging percentage (third best in the GPAC). Additionally, served as the team’s ace pitcher, going 17-7 with a 3.07 ERA over 166.1 innings. She recorded 120 strikeouts. Woodward finished her career with 20 home runs and 48 pitching victories. She was also named second team all-conference in 2015 and first team in both 2016 and 2017.
Few players in the nation were hotter than Leah Kalkwarf during the second half of the season. The second baseman from Omaha wound up leading the team in batting average (.366) and RBIs (39) during a breakout second collegiate season. She also posted 16 doubles, a triple, three home runs, a .417 on-base percentage and .542 slugging percentage. Kalkwarf started each of the team’s 48 games. Kalkwarf reached base safely in each of the season’s final 29 games. She collected first team All-GPAC accolades.
Ruppert, a transfer from McCook Community College, starred both at the plate and in the field. She made just one error all season while batting .349 (third on the team) with a pair of home runs, seven doubles, two triples and 12 stolen bases. She sported a robust .451 on-base percentage and a .466 slugging percentage. She started all but one game as the team’s center fielder. She joined Kalkwarf and Woodward with first team all-conference recognition.
A transfer from NCAA Division II Pittsburg State, Harpst put together a solid two years as a Bulldog. This season she batted .305 with 11 doubles, six triples (team high), four home runs and 37 RBIs. She registered an on-base percentage of .370 and a slugging percentage of .573. In the circle, Harpst made 21 appearances and had a record of 12-5 and ERA of 3.19 in 101 innings. Harpst hit .353 over 88 career games. She moved up from honorable mention All-GPAC in 2016 in second team in 2017.
Owens, a native of Henderson, Nev., provided a powerful bat in the middle of the lineup once again. She hit .350 with 10 doubles, eight home runs and 34 RBIs. She recorded a .415 on-base percentage and slugged .633. She played in 38 games before suffering an injury that sidelined her down the stretch. Owens has the most home runs (21) of any Bulldog over the last three seasons. She is a career .353 hitter with 96 RBIs. She was a first team All-GPAC choice in 2016 and a second team selection in 2017.
Lefebure, who hails from Crete, Neb., improved tremendously between her freshman and sophomore seasons. While starting 46 games, almost all at shortstop, Lefebure batted .306 with a .446 on-base percentage. She recorded 29 runs, 33 hits, five doubles and 24 walks. In her first season as a Bulldog, Watson saw action in 47 games, batting .322 with a .385 on-base percentage. The native of Riverside, Calif., played both first and third base and drove in 33 runs.
C, Katlin Anders, Midland, .429
C, Kelsey Bernhardt, Doane, .365
1B, Lexie Linderman, Hastings, .409
2B, Leah Kalkwarf, Concordia, .366
2B, Heather Ramirez, Doane, .387
SS, Alexis Paulo-Meyers, Peru State, .440
3B, * Erin Sharpe, Bellevue, .427
U, Corrin Ziepke, Hastings, .319
EH, Taylor Asche, Hastings, .252
OF, Hannah Carter, Bellevue, .389
OF, Cara Williams, Hastings, .356
OF, Megan Ruppert, Concordia, .349
OF, Chloe Boeka, Hastings, .359
P, Michaela Woodward, Concordia, 17-7
P, Kelli Fisher, Bellevue, 30-7
P, Sarah Barger, Hastings, 13-6
P, Kylie Harpst, Concordia, 12-5
* — denotes honorary captain
Honorable mention: Emily Miller, Sydney Robertson, Bellevue; Brittney Banks, Nicki Larsen, Ashley Trendle, College of St. Mary; Jamie Lefebure, Autumn Owens, Ronee Watson, Concordia; Haileigh Arthur, Jacquelyn Garza, Nicole Fernandez, Sam Valadez, Doane; Josie Bumgardner, Hastings; Bailey Hartman, Katie Heard, Bailey Hoover, Nicole O’Haver, Midland; Jordan Arndt, Maddy Ethen, Madi Francis, Morgan Shipley, Nebraska Wesleyan; Rachel Carlos, Tyler Farrell, Nicole Reznicek, Peru State; Brittany Rayls, Alysia Rodriguez, Kiana Villarreal, York.