Holy moly: the shot heard round Seward

Holy moly: the shot heard round Seward

AUDIO: Amber Topil’s walk-off home run sends Bulldogs to nationals

SEWARD, Neb. – By now you may have heard the audio call by Mike Meyer of Amber Topil’s walk-off, national tournament-clinching home run on May 2. (The link is posted above if you haven’t). “It’s gone! It’s gone!” shouted an ecstatic Meyer as Topil’s drive cleared the fence.

It’s a moment many Bulldog softball players have called, via social media, the best of their careers. There weren’t many who experienced the moment either live at the game or through Meyer’s call without feeling “chills” or “goose bumps.”

“I don’t believe it!” Meyer exclaimed on the Concordia Sports Network as Topil rounded the bases. “Holy moly! The Bulldogs are going to nationals!”

For a program that will be making its first-ever trip to the NAIA softball national championships, it’s not hyperbolic to say the Seward native’s blast was the most significant hit in Concordia softball history. It was a season-defining one-pitch at bat that completed an improbable run to GPAC championship Saturday after a loss in the tournament’s opening game.

The home run was the first of the season and third of her career.

“I got like 1,800 hugs,” Topil said after the game. “I just didn’t even know what was going on. I don’t know how I didn’t cry.

“We have an unbelievably close group. This was an unreal team win. I couldn’t be prouder to be part of this team.”

After losing 9-1 to Midland in game 1 on May 1, head coach Todd LaVelle’s squad rallied in a big way in reeling off five-straight wins. The Bulldogs toppled Northwestern, Hastings, Dakota Wesleyan, Midland and Morningside in win-or-go-home games.

With its conference tournament runner-up finish, Concordia (32-14) gets to keep playing. It will be headed to the 2014 NAIA Softball National Championship Opening Round, May 12-14, at a site to be determined. Brackets and site placements for the 40-team opening round will be announced at 7 p.m. on Tuesday.

“I’m so proud of these girls and what they’ve accomplished, not only the last three days but the entire season,” LaVelle said. “A lot of teams getting knocked down to the loser’s bracket day one would have folded. This team just has so much fight in it and so much pride in themselves and what they’ve done all season.

“Everybody else is packing up for the summer and we’re still playing. I’m excited and looking forward to the opportunity to go wherever it may be.”

Topil was undoubtedly Concordia’s unofficial MVP of the GPAC tournament. Over the seven games at the Smith Softball Complex in Hastings, Neb., Topil went 8-for-18 (.444) with three doubles, a home run, five runs, three walks and five RBIs. She also caught every inning behind the plate and delivered the game-winning two-run single in the 8-7 win over Dakota Wesleyan.

5 May 2014

Senior Amber Topil