Bulldog Athletic Association Member (BAAM) Athletes of the Week
--For performances from Feb. 28 through March 13.
Female: Caitlyn McGarvie, Softball / Josie Puelz, Track & Field
A Valparaiso, Neb., native, McGarvie starred over the past two weeks for the Bulldogs, hitting .442 (19-for-43) over the past 13 games. She also added 13 runs scored five doubles, two triples, two home runs, 15 RBIs and four stolen bases. McGarvie reached 100 career hits over spring break.
Puelz, a Lincoln Lutheran alum, defended her title and won the fifth pole vault national championship of her career while clearing 13’ ¼” at the 2023 NAIA indoor national meet. Seeded third entering the meet, Puelz won her third-straight NAIA indoor title. She helped the team place sixth in the NAIA.
Male: Zach Zohner, Track & Field
A native of Battle Creek, Neb., Zohner far surpassed his personal best in the pole vault during a thrilling outing at the 2023 NAIA indoor meet. He wound up clearing 16’ 7” and placed as the NAIA national runner up. Zohner was able to outperform his seed mark and earn his first career All-America award.
Previous BAAM Athletes of the Week
Feb. 28 – Katie Birtell (Dance) / Noah Schutte (Basketball)
Feb. 21 – Issiah Burks (wrestling) / Adrianna Rodencal (track & field)
Feb. 14 – Noah Schutte (basketball) / Taysha Rushton (basketball)
Feb. 7 – Adrianna Rodencal (track & field) / Calvin Rohde (track & field)
Jan. 31 – Noah Schutte (basketball) / Kristin Vieselmeyer (basketball)
Jan. 24 – Rylee Haecker (track & field) / Calvin Rohde (track & field)
Jan. 17 – Kylahn Freiberg (track & field) / Garrett Seagren (basketball)
Jan. 10 – Sadie Powell (basketball) / Noah Schutte (basketball)
Dec. 13 – Chase Berry (track & field) / Adrianna Rodencal (track & field) / Taysha Rushton (basketball)
Dec. 6 – Gabi Nordaker (volleyball) / Gage Smith (basketball)
Nov. 29 – Rylee Ladd (powerlifting) / Noah Schutte (basketball)
Nov. 15 – Rebecca Gebhardt (volleyball) / Federico Simonetti (Soccer)
Nov. 8 – Kylahn Freiberg (cross country) / Kaden Peters (football)
Nov. 1 – Breyer Meeks (shooting sports) / Carlos Orquiz (soccer) / Morgan Nibbe (volleyball)
Oct. 25 – Bree Burtwistle (volleyball) / Isaiah Shaddick (soccer)
Oct. 18 – Korrell Koehlmoos (football) / Carly Rodaway (volleyball)
Oct. 11 – Rylee Haecker (cross country) / DJ McGarvie (football)
Oct. 4 – Rebecca Gebhardt (volleyball) / Korrell Koehlmoos (football)
Sept. 27 – Bree Burtwistle (volleyball) / Ryan Wokutch (soccer)
Sept. 20 – Tanner Muff (shooting sports) / Gabi Nordaker (volleyball) / Katie Welker (shooting sports)
Sept. 13 – Kierstynn Garner (soccer) / Jack Nelson (shooting sports)
Sept. 6 – Camryn Opfer (volleyball) / Camden Sesna (cross country)
Aug. 30 – Federico Simonetti (soccer) / Carly Rodaway (volleyball)
Aug. 23 – Bree Burtwistle (volleyball)
2022-23 BAAM Athletes of the Month
February – Adrianna Rodencal (track & field) / Noah Schutte (basketball)
January – Rylee Haecker (track & field) / Noah Schutte (basketball)
December – Adrianna Rodencal (track & field) / Gage Smith (basketball)
November – Rebecca Gebhardt (volleyball); Noah Schutte (basketball)
October – Bree Burtwistle (volleyball); Korrell Koehlmoos (football); Carly Rodaway (volleyball)
September – Gabi Nordaker (volleyball); Camryn Opfer (volleyball); Camden Sesna (cross country)
News and notes:
BAAM luncheons are held every Tuesday at 12 p.m. CT inside the Dog House Grill, located in the Janzow Campus Center. The luncheons feature reports from head coaches who are in season at the time. For information on how to join BAAM, click HERE. It is not a requirement to be a BAAM member in order to attend the weekly luncheons.
Women’s Golf opens spring season in Arizona: The 2022-23 women’s golf season resumed last week as Head Coach Brett Muller and company traveled to Litchfield Park, Ariz., for the Southwest Minnesota State Spring Break Invite. The event featured 10 teams, 62 individual golfers and 36 holes contested at Wigwam Red Course. The Bulldogs shot a two-round total of 354-371–725 and placed ninth out of 10 teams. The Bulldogs were the lone NAIA representative in the field. All other teams present in Litchfield Park were affiliated with NCAA Division II. Individually, freshman Emery Custer led Concordia with her score of 82-97–179. Lauren Havlat (89-91–180) came next followed by Mya Nurse (87-93–180), Logan Eschliman (96-90–186) and Sarah Wilson (107-104–211). The next event on the Concordia golf schedule is the Doane Spring Invite (March 24-25) on the men’s side. The women will return to action April 3-4 for the Concordia Bulldog Spring Invitational. For more details on Concordia Golf: Men | Women.
Tennis teams make way to KCAC territory for Sunday matches: In making their way into Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference territory, the Concordia Tennis teams went up against Bethany College and Kansas Wesleyan University on March 12. The Bulldog men went 2-0 with wins by scores of 7-0 over Bethany and 4-3 over Kansas Wesleyan. Meanwhile, the women went 1-1 with a 7-0 victory over Kansas Wesleyan and a 4-3 loss to Bethany. Both of Head Coach Cam Long’s squads are 5-5 overall as nonconference action continues. From an individual standpoint this past Sunday, Mariana Molano went 2-0 at both the No. 1 singles and doubles spots while Manuel Rodriguez went 2-0 at No. 5 singles (7-2 season singles record). Next up on the schedule, both squads are slated to be at Baker University on Saturday for a 1 p.m. CT first serve in Baldwin City, Kan.
--Concordia Men’s Tennis
--Concordia Women’s Tennis
Weightlifting program finishes 2022-23 season with four Bulldogs competing at National Championships: It was another first for Concordia University Lifting Sports as four Bulldogs represented the weightlifting team at the 2023 National University Championships held March 2-3. The inaugural season for weightlifting was capped at the national event hosted at the Greater Columbus Convention Center in Columbus, Ohio, where Kayleigh Maloney earned a first-place medal in the discipline of snatch. The competition marked the first time Concordia has taken part in a national championship event in either weightlifting or powerlifting. Overall national finishes for Bulldog athletes within their own weight classes were fourth for Merry Berris, fourth for Evan Fukuhara, 12th for Rylee Kara and sixth for Maloney. Fukuhara was in a close battle for third at 73kg. While weightlifting has completed its 2022-23 season, Concordia Powerlifting now looks forward to its national championships. Powerlifting nationals will unfold in Arlington, Texas, April 13-16. For more information on the Concordia Lifting Sports program: Men | Women.
Shooting Sports readying for national championships: Concordia Shooting Sports has made its way to Las Vegas for the 2023 NCSSAA National Championships. The event got started today (March 14) with American Skeet Doubles and Super Sporting. Competition will continue through Saturday. More details about the national event can be found via the NCSSAA’s website HERE. This will be the first outing of the spring semester for Head Coach Dylan Owens’ squad. The Bulldogs are also slated to host the Concordia Bulldog International Tournament in Grand Island, Neb., April 1-2. For more details on the program, check out the homepage for Concordia Shooting Sports HERE.
Dupic becomes winningest coach in baseball program history: As part of the spring break slate in Florida, Ryan Dupic became the winningest head coach in Concordia Baseball history. His 251st victory (achieved on March 6) pushed him past Jeremy Geidel (250 wins) on the program’s all-time list. In the mid of Dupic, the record was a celebration of all the Bulldogs have accomplished as a program since his tenure began in 2015. Many coaches and former players sounded off on social media after the milestone win. Former assistant coach Caleb Berg referred to Dupic as an “incredible program builder, developer of men and mentor to so many people.” For more on Dupic and the program accomplishments, check out this story linked HERE.
Bulldog Coaches Show airs every Thursday at 5:30 p.m. CT: The Bulldog Coaches Show is underway in its eighth year of existence. The show airs live for a half hour every Thursday beginning at 5:30 p.m. CT on KTMX-FM 104.9 Max Country. The weekly feature can also be heard live via 104.9 Max Country’s website or by downloading the Max Country app. Throughout the 2022-23 season, Bulldog football, men’s and women’s basketball and volleyball contests will be aired live on Max Country. Parker Cyza serves as the host of the coaches’ show as well as the play-by-play voice for football and basketball. Frank Greene is in his eighth season calling Concordia volleyball.
Concordia Sports Network: Live webcasts for most home varsity contests can be accessed by visiting https://www.cune.edu/athletics/watch-bulldogs at game time. Beginning in 2019-20, Concordia Athletics partnered with PrestoSports for live video and statistical streaming. Live webcast links for away contests are publicized in sport specific releases that preview action for that particular week. Scrimmages, exhibitions and junior varsity events are not broadcasted.
· The 12th national tournament appearance in a row (and 22nd all-time) for the program took the Bulldogs to Crestview Hills, Ky., home to Thomas More University. Eighth-seeded Concordia won its first round game in dominant fashion, 77-50, over No. 9 seed Columbia College (Mo.) on March 7. The next day, Concordia ran into a buzz saw in the form of top-seeded Thomas More, which shot 58.2 percent from the floor and ran away with a 98-69 victory on its home court. That meant the end of the season for Head Coach Drew Olson’s squad, which finished the campaign at 20-12 overall. For more information on Concordia Women’s Basketball, click HERE.
· In the aftermath of the season’s final game, Olson expressed appreciation for a squad that showed toughness and togetherness while taking a step forward from the 2021-22 campaign. The Bulldogs started 1-3 in conference play and then proceeded to go 13-3 over their next 16 GPAC games. They also celebrated another CIT championship and hit the 20-win mark, something Olson has achieved in 14 of his 17 seasons leading the program. Concordia achieved that win total while up against the NAIA’s 11th-ranked strength of schedule. Significant road wins came over Northwestern and Jamestown and all 12 defeats came at the hands of teams that qualified for the national tournament. The Bulldogs played five of the 16 teams that have reached the final site of the NAIA National Championship.
· In the win over Columbia, Concordia jumped out to a 14-4 advantage and never trailed at any point. The Bulldogs led by nine (38-29) at the break and then turned on the jets in the third quarter with a 13-3 run that included two Abby Krieser baskets and a Mackenzie Koepke trey. At that juncture, Concordia owned a 51-32 lead and eventually stretched the advantage to as many as 30 points. Taysha Rushton went wild for 26 points (10-for-16 from the field), seven rebounds and two steals in 30 minutes. Off the bench, Kristin Vieselmeyer added 12 points and five rebounds. All 12 Bulldogs who made the trip to Kentucky saw action and 11 of them registered in the scoring column. Defensively, Concordia limited the Cougars (26-5) to just 29.0 percent shooting and snapped their 14-game winning streak.
· It was a bit of a helpless feeling in the matchup with Thomas More, which shot lights out. The Saints went 18-for-34 (.529) from 3-point range led by 4-for-5 perimeter shooting by Zoie Barth (game high 22 points). The defending national champs looked the part in scoring at least 20 points in every quarter. Thomas More (28-3) also made 16-of-17 free throws on their way to a comfortable win. The Bulldogs shot 44.8 percent from the floor and had three double-figure scorers: Rushton (14), Sadie Powell (11) and Mackenzie Toomey (11). Concordia had hoped to reach the final site of the national tournament as it did in 2021.
· Now a three-time First Team All-GPAC honoree, Rushton continues to make her mark as one of the most prolific guards in program history. In three seasons as a Bulldog, the Midland, Texas, native has played in 92 games and has accumulated 1,408 points, 275 rebounds, 253 assists and 150 steals. Rushton will enter year four ranked No. 14 on the program’s all-time scoring list. Her 217 3-point field goals are the fifth most in school history behind only Kristen Conahan (323), Melissa Tinkham (266), Andrea Janssen (247) and Brenleigh Daum (232).
· Olson’s 17-year record stands at 443-133. He became the winningest coach in women’s basketball program history early in the 2014-15 season. His win total puts him two off former men’s basketball coach Grant Schmidt (445-276 over 23 seasons) for the most all-time wins of any basketball coach (or for any sport) in Concordia Athletics history. Olson played for Schmidt during the 2000-01 through 2002-03 seasons. Counting Olson’s three seasons as a Bulldog student-athlete, he’s been involved in 505 victories (62 wins as a player).
· Among varsity players, the Bulldogs will have only two departures heading into 2023-24: Taylor Farrell and Mackenzie Koepke. Olson has had high praise for both for their ability to persevere through adversity. Koepke sat out the entire 2021-22 season due to injury and then made the decision to return this past season for a fifth year inside the program. In 130 career games at Concordia, Koepke racked up 872 points and 474 rebounds and knocked down 209 3-point field goals. Meanwhile, Farrell was the lone fourth-year senior on the roster. She dealt with family tragedy and injury over the past year and came back to positively impact her teammates. Farrell shot 38.6 percent from 3-point range in her career.
· There’s plenty of reason to believe the Bulldogs will be even better in 2023-24 with much of the nucleus set to come back. Concordia’s 2022-23 squad featured an influential class of third-year players, including Rushton, Kendal Brigham, Powell and Toomey. They will form the backbone of the team along with the likes of Krieser, Hailey Kelinschmit, Megan Belt and Kristin Vieselmeyer. With more help coming in the incoming class of recruits, the Bulldogs will expect to be back at the national tournament and perhaps make a push to return to the Tyson Events Center.
· They had to hold their breath when the national tournament field was announced on March 2, but the Bulldogs were rewarded with one of the final at-large berths. Seeded 15th and sent to Park City, Kan., for the round of 64, Concordia found itself in a rematch with No. 2 seed Oklahoma Wesleyan University, the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference champion. The battle went down to the wire and saw the Eagles survive a potential game-winning 3-pointer by the Bulldogs just before the buzzer. Oklahoma Wesleyan won, 72-70, and advanced to the second round. Meanwhile, Head Coach Ben Limback’s squad ended its season at 18-13 overall. For more information on Concordia Men’s Basketball, click HERE.
· The Bulldogs’ 90-77 win at Northwestern in the GPAC quarterfinals was seemingly just enough to push them into the NAIA tournament field of 64. The national tournament bid was a reward for Concordia’s ability to overcome adversity during a year that included a major injury to Tristan Smith and lineup changes. Highlights of the season were Noah Schutte’s rise to a new level of stardom, another CIT title, a dominant win at eventual GPAC tournament champion Dordt and the return of Gage Smith for a fifth season within the program. Early in the campaign, when the Bulldogs had their full complement of players, they were ranked No. 19 nationally.
· Concordia nearly stole one over Oklahoma Wesleyan (27-5) last week in a game the underdogs trailed (but within striking distance) nearly the whole way. In the final seconds, Jaxon Weyand misfired on a kickout three with the Bulldogs trailing by a single point. The Eagles left the door open down the stretch with missed free throws (14-for-24 for the game). In addition, Brad Bennett and Zac Kulus got hot from 3-point range for Concordia. Two Bulldogs finished in double figures: Schutte (23) and Bennett (18). Schutte added seven rebounds. In his final college game, Gage Smith posted seven points, eight rebounds, six assists and three steals. Meanwhile, Tristan Smith returned for his first action since late December and contributed eight points and three rebounds.
· It would be a shame if Schutte is not named an All-American this postseason. The Laurel, Neb., native earned First Team All-GPAC accolades in 2022-23 while averaging 20.1 points and 7.0 rebounds per game. His shooting percentages were impressive across the board: 54.4 from the floor, 46.3 from 3-point range and 79.4 from the foul line. His crown jewel single game effort was his 38-point, 18-rebound output in the GPAC semifinal win at Northwestern. In that contest, Schutte broke the school record with nine 3-point field goals. Schutte’s average of 20.1 points per game is the highest in a season for a Concordia player since Jon Ziegler averaged 21.3 points in 2006-07. Schutte was recognized on the NAIA National Championship All-Tournament Team in 2022.
· Gage Smith made a name for himself while improving tremendously over the course of his five years as a Bulldog. The Elizabeth, Colo., native wound up with career totals of 1,355 points, 899 rebounds, 282 assists, 138 steals and 74 blocks in 134 games. On the program’s all-time lists, Gage ranks second in rebounding, 11th in assists and 14th in scoring. Smith was twice named Second Team All-GPAC and once was named first team all-league. He played on three separate national tournament teams and helped the Bulldogs win GPAC tournament titles in 2020 and 2022 and a conference regular season championship in 2021-22.
· The 2022-23 season marked year 10 for Limback as head coach of his alma mater. His 10-year mark leading the Bulldogs stands at 182-126. Limback will enter 2023-24 knocking on the door of 300 career victories. He also spent nine years as head coach at Concordia University Ann Arbor. His overall 19-year record has moved to 297-284. Limback has taken the Bulldogs to the national tournament in three of the past four seasons. The 2021-22 team stands out as one of the greatest in program history as it made a run to the NAIA national quarterfinals.
· The pieces appear to be in place for Concordia to make a return to the national tournament in 2023-24. The Bulldogs are saying goodbye to Gage Smith, as well as fourth-year seniors in Garrett Seagren, Kelly Vyhnalek and Skyler Woita. Both Smith and Seagren held down starting roles in 2022-23. However, Concordia will welcome back two frontcourt stars in the form of Schutte and Tristan Smith, in addition to sharpshooting guard Brad Bennett. More will be expected of this past season’s freshman class that included the likes of Payson Gillespie, Zac Kulus, Jaxon Weyand and Logan Wilson. Of course, more help will be on the way with next year’s incoming recruiting class.
· The season for the Bulldogs officially wrapped up on March 3 when four competitors represented the program at the 2023 NAIA Wrestling National Championships held at Hartman Arena in Park City, Kan. Each of those Concordia qualifiers came up short of All-America placements, but they did manage to combine for four wins. It was the completion of a season that saw Head Coach Chase Clasen’s squad equal a program record for dual wins in a campaign while claiming third place in the GPAC in both the regular season and postseason. The Bulldogs outperformed preseason expectations that had them pegged for sixth in the GPAC. For more information on Concordia Wrestling, click HERE.
· The four 2023 national qualifiers were the most for the program since it sent eight to Park City in 2020. That was just one sign of the progress made by the Bulldogs in Clasen’s first year at the helm. The team’s 13-2 dual record equaled the 2015-16 (13-4) and 2019-20 (13-2) teams for the most dual victories in a single season. In addition, the ’22-23 team piled up 110 points at the GPAC Championships and placed third. All of those markers were well ahead of the previous year when Concordia went 6-6 overall in duals and placed sixth. The 2021-22 team sent two qualifiers to nationals.
· Clasen like the way his guys battled despite difficult draws at the national tournament. The team’s national qualifiers were Creighton Baughman (141), Tavoris Smith (157), Issiah Burks (165) and Logan Davidson (184). Both Baughman and Burks were paired with the No. 2 seed within their respective brackets. On the national stage, Baughman picked up two wins (including one over the No. 16) seed, Davidson knocked off the No. 11 seed and Burks earned his first career national tournament win. Collectively, they combined for 2.5 points, putting the Bulldogs in a tie for 39th on the national leaderboard. Baughman has two previous All-America awards at the JUCO level.
· Throughout the 2022-23 season, 10 Bulldogs notched double digit win totals: Creighton Baughman (25-10), Tommy Wentz (20-12), Issiah Burks (18-13), Stephen Duffy (15-10), Bryce Karlin (14-10), Jeaven Scdoris (14-15), Logan Davidson (13-7), Garret Moser (13-14), Jose Sanchez (12-16) and Grant Wells (11-15). Karlin paced the team with 10 pins while Baughman notched seven and Duffy and Cy Renney collected six pins apiece. Entering the postseason tournaments, Baugham (16th at 141) and Davidson (25th at 184) were ranked nationally.
· Burks would have liked to have placed himself on the All-America podium, but his senior campaign was still something of a fairytale story the way it concluded with him reaching the national tournament. In year six inside the program, the Hemet, Calif., native seized the moment and won the 165-pound GPAC title. Burks’ one win on the national stage pushed his career win total to 77, a figure that ranks No. 4 in program history. The only three above him on the list are Ken Burkhardt Jr. (122), Ceron Francisco (100) and Deandre Chery (90).
· Baughman will be back in 2023-24 and will likely be as determined as ever to reach the podium. His signing as a transfer from Iowa Western Community College was a major victory on the recruiting trail. The Papillion, Neb., native finished his first season as a Bulldog with 25 wins and was the GPAC runner up at 141 pounds. He was easily the team’s most consistent performer from November through March. Baughman also posted a 13-2 record in duals and was ranked nationally for the entire 2022-23 season.
· Clasen looks forward to the future as Concordia will bring back the bulk of its most impactful performers from this past season. Two national qualifiers (Burks and Smith) will move on, but the Bulldogs will be as experienced as they have been since winning the GPAC in 2019-20. Baughman will lead the way and will be followed by the likes of Davidson, Bryce Karlin (125), Grant Wells (133), Jeaven Scdoris (149), Tommy Wentz (157), Garret Moser (174), Stephen Duffy (184), Cy Renney (285) and others.
Track & Field
· The 2023 indoor season reached its conclusion at the NAIA Indoor Track & Field National Championships held in Brookings, S.D., March 2-4. The Bulldogs emerged with team place finishes of sixth on the women’s side (28 points) and tied for 31st on the men’s side (10 points). Individually, 11 Concordia athletes came away with All-America plaques, including pole vault national champion Josie Puelz. Those efforts on the national stage for Head Coach Matt Beisel’s squads followed indoor conference placements of first for the women and third for the men. For more information on Concordia Track & Field, click HERE.
· All-America awards were claimed by Rachel Battershell (4x400m relay), Zach Bennetts (pole vault), Jenna Esch (4x400m relay), Kylahn Freiberg (1,000 meters), Abby Gerber (shot put), Rylee Haecker (1,000 meters), Jordan Koepke (4x400m relay), Erin Mapson (pole vault), Josie Puelz (pole vault), Trinity Tuls (4x400m relay) and Zach Zohner (pole vault). While Puelz again defended her pole vault title, Zohner was the pole vault runner up on the men’s side and Freiberg finished as the runner up in the women’s 1,000 meters. Both Zohner and Freiberg far exceeded their seed marks entering the meet.
· The Lincoln Lutheran High School alum Puelz came into the national championships seeded third in the pole vault, but she was hardly an underdog. Her winning vault this time around was 13’ ¼” as she held off a large field of 32 qualifiers in the event. Puelz is one of only two women’s athletes ever to win three-straight NAIA indoor pole vault titles. The other was Talitha Fagen of Eastern Oregon University from 2014-16. Now a five-time national champion, Puelz owns the second most individual national titles among Concordia track & field women’s athletes all-time. Only Carol Bailey (eight titles), NAIA Hall of Famer, boasts more than Puelz.
· Among the 2023 Bulldog All-Americans, Rachel Battershell leads the way in terms of most career All-America awards with 11. Other current Concordia athletes (who took home All-America awards this past week) with multiple career All-America plaques are Rylee Haecker (seven), Erin Mapson (six), Josie Puelz (six), Jordan Koepke (five), Kylahn Freiberg (four), Zach Bennetts (two) and Jenna Esch (two). This is year five for Battershell within the program. She’s a two-time national champion in the 400 meters. She’ll close out her college career this outdoor season.
· Pole vault coach Jason Berry’s crew enjoyed one incredible indoor season. It culminated with four All-America awards amongst the eight national qualifiers (between men and women). Not only did Puelz win the women’s title, Zohner was a surprise runner up on the men’s side after he cleared four-straight bars above 16 feet (all personal bests). Teammate Zach Bennetts was the GPAC men’s pole vault champion. The thrills at nationals came two weeks after the vault crew piled up GPAC meet point totals of 32 on the women’s side and 28.5 on the men’s side. Throughout the indoor season, the USTFCCCA rated Concordia among the top two vault groups in the nation.
· Freiberg emerged as one of the other major stories of the national meet for the Bulldogs. She placed eighth in the prelims of the 1,000 meters, an event she was not even projected to score in upon entering the championships. Freiberg then ran a personal best of 2:54.87 in the finals (third fastest time in school history) and was the national runner up. The performance gave the Nampa, Idaho, native her fourth career All-America award. It’s been a senior season to remember for Freiberg, who also appeared at the NAIA cross country national championships, helping the team place 27th in the NAIA.
· The Bulldogs are in the midst of a break from competition before the outdoor season gets going on March 25 with the Grand View Viking Relays. That meet is one of nine on the 2023 outdoor slate (excluding the GPAC and NAIA national meets). Beisel and company will host the Concordia Invitational (April 14-15) and the Twilight Meet (May 12). Dordt will serve as the host for the GPAC outdoor meet while the NAIA National Championships will shift to Marion, Ind., home to Indiana Wesleyan University (instead of Gulf Shores, Ala.).
· The Bulldogs recently completed a stretch of 13 games in eight days as they took part in the Friends Invite (March 3-4) and the Tucson Invite (March 7-10) over spring break. Concordia went 8-5 during the break while playing against 11 NAIA opponents and two NCAA Division III foes. Head Coach Brock Culler’s squad emerged from Tucson with an overall record of 11-10. Seventeen of those contests have been of the neutral site variety (four true road games). For more on the Concordia Softball program, click HERE.
· Over the nine games in Tucson, the Bulldogs claimed victories over (in order) Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (N.Y.), Dickinson State University (N.D.), University of St. Francis (Ill.), Olivet Nazarene University (Ill.) and Siena Heights University (Mich.). Three of the nine games ended in walk-off fashion. Caitlyn McGarvie struck for a walk-off, two-run double to edge St. Francis, 5-4, while Aubrey Bruning singled home the winner in the 2-1 triumph over Siena Heights. Concordia also fell victim to a walk-off in its 5-4 defeat at the hands of NAIA No. 2 Indiana Wesleyan University. So far this season, the Bulldogs have played in the states of Arizona and Kansas only.
· With 21 games in the books, Concordia has totaled 122 runs for an average of 5.8 per game. Meanwhile, its pitchers have combined for a 4.06 ERA through 134.1 innings. In terms of batting average, the Bulldogs’ leading hitters are Hanna Bowers (.414), McGarvie (.368), Bruning (.360), Kylie Shottenkirk (.354), Delanie Voshell (.346), Julia Van Wey (.344) and Zoie Isom (.339). Shottenkirk was honored as the GPAC Player of the Week on March 7 after her run of hot hitting at the Friends Invite. A native of Fillmore, Calif., Isom has been an RBI machine with 23 runs driven in so far. Shottenkirk has supplied impressive extra base power with six doubles and three home runs.
· McGarvie recorded her 100th career hit on March 4 at the Friends Invite. The Lincoln North Star High School product got out to a bit of a slow start due to a minor injury, but she heated up considerably in Tucson. Over the nine games at the invite, McGarvie went 13-for-29 (.448) with two doubles, two triples, a home run and nine RBIs while slugging .759. On the season, McGarvie is hitting .368 with a .471 on-base percentage and .632 slugging percentage. Not only did she have a walk-off double in Tucson, she also ended the win over RPI by gunning down a runner at the plate. She’s a two-time First Team All-GPAC award winner on track for more honors as a fourth-year player.
· To this point, Megan Eurich has been the team’s most effective pitcher. The sophomore from Gretna, Neb., appeared in five games in Tucson and recorded a 3-1 record and 2.59 ERA in 24.1 innings (12 strikeouts). Eurich entered the final two games of the trip in relief and was credited with the win in both instances. Eurich has moved her season record to 7-1 with a 3.07 ERA. Her 57 innings are most on the team. Culler also feels confident in Jessie Bestenlehner, Jerzi Rowe and Brooke Townsend in the circle. Rowe has the most college experience of the bunch. Just a freshman, Bestenlehner has allowed only three earned runs in her first 11.1 innings.
· Concordia does not have a game until the weekend, which isn’t a bad thing considering the cluster of games the team just finished. Next up on the slate is this coming Sunday’s scheduled 12 p.m. CT doubleheader at Mount Mercy University in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The Bulldogs are slated to play two nonconference twin bills before starting GPAC play at home on March 25.
· The busiest stretch of the regular season is in the books for the Bulldogs, who played 11 games in the state of Florida between March 4-11. Concordia went 7-4 during that time period and emerged as the champion of the Warner Invitational. Head Coach Ryan Dupic’s squad now stands at 14-8 overall after having completed the nonconference schedule. A rarity in college baseball, the Bulldogs played their entire nonconference slate as it was scheduled. For more on the Concordia Baseball program, click HERE.
· While in Florida, the Bulldogs earned wins over No. 25 Keiser University (Fla.), Grand View University (Iowa), No. 8/13 St. Thomas University (Fla.) (three times), Lawrence Tech (Mich.) and Calumet College of St. Joseph (Ind.). Grand View had been 11-0 before Concordia defeated the Vikings by a 6-2 score. Of the 22 games played to this point, 11 have come against opponents that were either ranked or receiving votes nationally at the time of first pitch. The Bulldogs have won five games over top 25 opponents and have played a schedule currently rated as the 37th toughest in the NAIA, according to Massey Ratings. Dupic has called it the most challenging schedule Concordia has faced in his nine-year tenure.
· The 14-8 record this season has pushed Dupic’s overall head coaching record to 256-153-1. Not only has Dupic passed 250 career wins, he’s now the program’s all-time winningest coach. Dupic officially surpassed Jeremy Geidel (250 wins) for that title with the team’s victory over Grand View on March 6. The milestone for Dupic became a celebration of how far the program has come in his tenure. When Dupic took over beginning with the 2015 season, Concordia Baseball had gone since 1979 without a single winning season. Dupic’s teams have transformed the program with winning marks each year, topped by a school record 42 victories during the NAIA World Series season of 2021. Under Dupic’s leadership, the Bulldogs have also won a combined five GPAC championships and have played in four national tournaments.
· Through nonconference play, it’s clear that Concordia’s offensive lineup is again a major strength. The Bulldogs have already piled up 208 runs while belting 40 home runs. The team is hitting .336 with a .420 on-base percentage and .575 slugging percentage. During the 11 games in Florida, Concordia went up against strong competition and still batted .338 with 107 runs with the help of 19 long balls. On the NAIA national leaderboard, the Bulldogs entered the week ranked sixth in home runs, ninth in slugging percentage, 15th in batting average and 44th in on-base percentage.
· The chase for Concordia’s all-time home run record will continue this spring. With 12 big flies on the season, Joey Grabanski has pulled even with former teammate Keaton Candor for the most career home runs in school history with 47 apiece. Jesse Garcia is right on their heels with 46 career blasts. Grabanski sits only one homer off the national lead of 13 homers this season (by two other NAIA sluggers). On the GPAC leaderboard, the Bulldogs boast the top three home run hitters: Grabanski (12), Garcia (eight) and Jaidan Quinn (seven). Concordia has the GPAC’s top four RBI men: Grabanski (35), Garcia (29), Jay Adams (23) and Quinn (23).
· Both Adams and Garcia have reached the 200-career hit milestone this season. The list of players to accomplish that feat in program history has reached five. An Honorable Mention All-American last season, Adams started out this season a bit slow, but he’s heated up in a big way. On March 10 when the Bulldogs defeated Calumet, 23-3, and St. Thomas, 20-3, Adams went 6-for-8 with a double, four home runs and 11 RBIs. He recorded the second three-homer game of his career in the blowout of St. Thomas. In addition, Adams recently became the program’s all-time runs scored leader. He’s touched home plate 174 times in 154 games as a Bulldog.
· The hitters get a lot of well-deserved recognition, but the pitching staff is coming along and has the potential to be a big strength as the season goes on. Transfer Blake Benson has moved into a role as the No. 1 pitcher. His best outing so far at Concordia came on March 9 when he held Lawrence Tech to one run on six hits and a walk while striking out five. Another notable performance during spring break was the seven-inning complete game tossed by Caden Bugarske in the win over Grand View. Bugarske allowed just a single earned run on five hits and a walk to go along with five strikeouts. In the final game of the trip, Christian Gutierrez came on in relief and threw six innings with one run allowed on four hits (no walks) and got the win. Another transfer, Frankie Cresta has covered more innings (27.1) than any other Concordia pitcher to this point.
· Conference play is up next. The Bulldogs are scheduled to host Jamestown (11-7) for a 1 p.m. CT doubleheader on Saturday. They are also slated to be at Hastings (6-12) for a 1 p.m. twin bill on Sunday. Once again, the league schedule is set for 28 games (14 doubleheaders). The way the schedule lays out, Concordia will be on the road for a lot of March before playing 12 home games during the month of April.