Pitching and defense carry Bulldogs past defending GPAC champs
SEWARD, Neb. – It’s “statement week” for a Concordia University softball team that continued its exhilarating 2014 season with a pair of one-run Tuesday evening victories over the conference preseason favorite and defending GPAC champion. The Bulldogs did just enough offensively to grab two wins by an identical 2-1 score and tag Hastings (13-16, 4-4 GPAC) and its ace pitcher Taylor Erlenbusch with two losses.
First-year head coach Todd LaVelle’s club, winner of five-straight GPAC games, improved to 22-5 overall and 7-1 in the GPAC. On this night it did so with pitching and defense.
“Hastings is a great team. Year in and year out they’re right at the top of the GPAC,” LaVelle said. “We knew we’d have our hands full. They pitched their ace against us. We knew we would be in a battle and have to manufacture and get some runners in scoring position, and we did that. It took a good defensive game.”
Freshman Palmer Bosanko played the role of hero once again when she crushed a walk-off double to center field to score catcher Amber Topil all the way from first in game 1. It was Bosanko’s third walk-off hit (all via extra base hits) of the season.
“Coach always says, ‘be the girl, be the girl that wants to be in clutch situations,’” Bosanko said. “I was put into that today and I knew I had to do that for the team because they played great today.”
It looked like Erlenbusch would allow the Broncos to force extra innings when she retired the first two hitters in the bottom of the seventh in a 1-1 tie. That’s when Topil (4-for-5 on the day) singled up the middle. Bosanko stepped up and drilled the next offering over center fielder Dana Manibusan’s head for another walk-off.
The clutch hit made a winner out of Amanda Beeson (10-3), who went all seven innings and held Hastings to one unearned run on five hits and a walk. Beeson then hurled the first 2.2 innings (3 hits, 1 ER) of game 2, before giving way to sophomore Julia Tyree.
The native of Benicia, Calif., was just as masterful, surrendering only a single hit over 4.1 innings to improve her record to a perfect 9-0. Tyree struck out two and coaxed seven ground outs.
“We continued what we did in game 1 to game 2,” LaVelle said. “We played well defensively, got a couple runs early and that’s all we needed. I’m really happy with the girls.”
Erlenbusch picked up her sixth and seventh losses of the season despite allowing only two earned runs in two complete game efforts (12.2 innings).
First baseman Molly Madsen got the Bulldogs on the board first in game 1 with her RBI single up the middle in the bottom of the fourth. Concordia immediately drew first blood in game 2 thanks to Tyree’s run-scoring double in the first. Tyree went 2-for-3 in game 2.
Now 7-1 this season in games decided by a single run, the Bulldogs are supremely confident they can pull it out when times get tight.
“It’s high,” Bosanko said of the team’s confidence. “But we’re humble. We’ve got to know that anyone beat us on any given day and we just have to have our ‘A’ game every time we come out on the field.”
The Bulldogs’ six-game homestand continues on Thursday when they host Benedictine College (Kan.) for a doubleheader set to begin at 5 p.m. Benedictine, 10-15 overall entering the day, is a member of the NAIA’s Heart of America Athletic Conference. Concordia will conclude the week with a Saturday matinee against Morningside, who sits at 5-0 in the GPAC.