Unblemished record leads to votes in national poll
SEWARD, Neb. – The Concordia University softball team is already garnering plenty of respect both regionally and nationwide for its school record 9-0 start to begin the 2014 season. After finishing 14-25 last season, outside expectations for Concordia were low heading into this spring. A season-opening upset of No. 10 Olivet Nazarene (Ill.) as part of a perfect Arizona road trip has quickly changed the perception.
On Monday head coach Todd LaVelle’s Bulldogs jumped to No. 1 in the new GPAC rankings released by the NAIA. Then on Tuesday afternoon, the Bulldogs received 23 points in the first regular-season edition of the NAIA Softball Coaches’ Top 25 Poll. Concordia is now seven spots away from the first top 25 ranking in program history.
“We’re cautiously excited. We know what we have yet to come,” LaVelle said at a Concordia booster club outing on Tuesday afternoon. “It’s great to be ranked No. 1 (in the GPAC) but we have some things to clean up if we’re going to stay there.”
Concordia’s quick rise certainly wasn’t predicted by GPAC coaches, who placed the Bulldogs seventh in the conference’s preseason poll. Having tied for seventh in the league in 2013, Concordia understood why it was pegged towards the bottom half. However, the team bought into LaVelle’s approach and belief that it was capable of much more.
“Why not us?” has become the rallying cry.
“I would be lying if I didn’t say we want to win the GPAC,” LaVelle said prior to the start of the season. “That’s our ultimate goal. We were preseason seventh and that’s probably about where we should be. I’m not the coach that’s going to go in and coach to be preseason seventh or sixth or fifth or just make the tournament.”
Earlier on Tuesday, senior Amanda Beeson (pitcher of the week) and junior Molly Madsen (player of the week) both earned weekly honors from the GPAC. Beeson is off to a 3-0 start in the circle. She has tossed 30 innings with 27 strikeouts while allowing only eight earned runs.
Meanwhile, Madsen has been the early leader for an offense that is hitting .395 and averaging nearly eight runs per game. Madsen went 12-for-19 with 10 RBIs during last week’s road trip in Tucson, Ariz.
The Bulldogs return to action on Wednesday when they take on Peru State (13-8) in Peru. The doubleheader is set to begin at 3 p.m.
18 March 2014