Softball looks to recapture 2015 postseason magic

By Jake Knabel on May. 1, 2018 in Softball

SEWARD, Neb. – A challenging task lies ahead for the Concordia University softball team, which now looks forward to GPAC postseason play. In the second game of the Morningside Bracket, the seventh-seeded Bulldogs have drawn second-seeded (23rd-ranked nationally) Morningside at 12 p.m. in Sioux City, Iowa, (Jensen Softball Complex) on Friday. Concordia will also play at either 2 or 4 p.m. on Friday pending the result versus the host Mustangs.

The GPAC softball tournament features a double-elimination format. Midland is the No. 1 seed and is hosting a separate pod of the bracket. The winners of the Midland and Morningside brackets will meet in the GPAC championship series on Monday, May 7. For live coverage at the Morningside Bracket, check out this LINK.

The last time head coach Todd LaVelle’s program was tagged with the GPAC’s No. 7 seed, it went on to win the conference tournament and secure a bid to the opening round of the NAIA softball championships. LaVelle’s 2014 squad also made a run to the GPAC championship final. That particular squad won five elimination games in a row after opening the tournament by being run-ruled by Midland. The Bulldogs clinched a spot at nationals in 2014 via a dramatic walk-off home run by Amber Topil that avenged the earlier loss to Midland.

LaVelle believes things are coming together at the right time. Two of the team’s biggest individual assets are freshmen in leading hitter Hhana Haro and pitcher Grace Bernhardt. Haro currently tops the GPAC with a .500 batting average, has broken the program record for doubles in a season (20) and needs one more hit to eclipse a school single-season standard she shares with Stacey Miller (73 hits in 1998). Meanwhile, Bernhardt has ramped up her game in conference play. The St. Charles, Mo., native is 5-2 with a 2.54 ERA when factoring in GPAC games only.

Concordia is expecting to return junior shortstop Jamie Lefebure to the lineup. She missed the final 10 games of GPAC regular-season action due to injury. Lefebure and fellow junior Leah Kalkwarf (walk-off hit in regular-season finale) are the most experienced players on the roster. Many regulars such as Elanna Osthoff (.378), Mackinsey Schmidt (.339), Tori Homolka (.294) and Kenna Heath (.262) will be getting their first tastes of GPAC postseason play.

Perennial Morningside shared the GPAC regular-season title with Midland. If the Bulldogs are to upset the Mustangs (28-11, 16-4 GPAC), they will likely have to figure out how to solve ace pitcher Hallie Misiaszek, who no-hit Concordia earlier this season. Morningside defeated Concordia by scores of 8-0 and 5-1 in Sioux City back on April 10. Other potential opponents in the Morningside bracket are third-seeded Northwestern (30-9, 15-5 GPAC) and sixth-seeded Doane (27-19, 11-9 GPAC). The Bulldogs were swept in Orange City and earned a split in Crete.

2018 GPAC Softball Tournament

Midland Bracket

Friday, May 4
Game 1 – No. 4 Dordt vs. No. 5 Dakota Wesleyan, 12 p.m.
Game 2 – No. 1 Midland vs. No. 8 Mount Marty, 2 p.m.
Game 3 – Game 1 Winner vs. Game 2 Winner, 4 p.m.
Game 4 – Game 1 Loser vs. Game 2 Loser, 6 p.m.

Saturday, May 5
Game 5 – Game 4 Winner vs. Game 3 Loser, 12 p.m.
Game 6 – Game 3 Winner vs. Game 5 Winner, 2 p.m.
Game 7 – If necessary (Game 6 Winner/Loser), 4 p.m.

Morningside Bracket

Friday, May 4
Game 1 – No. 3 Northwestern vs. No. 6 Doane, 10 a.m.
Game 2 – No. 2 Morningside vs. No. 7 Concordia, 12 p.m.
Game 3 – Game 1 Winner vs. Game 2 Winner, 2 p.m.
Game 4 – Game 1 Loser vs. Game 2 Loser, 4 p.m.

Saturday, May 5
Game 5 – Game 4 Winner vs. Game 3 Loser, 12 p.m.
Game 6 – Game 3 Winner vs. Game 5 Winner, 2 p.m.
Game 7 – If necessary (Game 6 Winner/Loser), 4 p.m.

GPAC Championship Series – Monday, May 7
Midland Bracket Winner vs. Morningside Bracket Winner
Game 1 – 11 a.m.
Game 2 – 1 p.m.
Game 3 – 5 p.m. (if necessary)