2021 GPAC softball tournament preview

By Jacob Knabel on May. 3, 2021 in Softball

SEWARD, Neb. – Postseason play has arrived for the Concordia University Softball team, which has earned the No. 3 seed in the GPAC tournament. As a result, the Bulldogs have been assigned to the Morningside Bracket of the tournament. Head Coach Shawn Semler’s squad will be at Jensen Softball Complex in Sioux City, Iowa, for each of its games during double-elimination pod play. Concordia will begin the postseason on Wednesday with a 10 a.m. CT matchup with Doane.

2021 GPAC Tournament – Morningside Bracket
--Full Bracket

May 5-6 | Jensen Softball Complex (Sioux City, Iowa)
--Live Webcasts (available for all games) | Live Stats

Wednesday, May 5
Game 1 – (3) Concordia vs. (6) Doane, 10 a.m.
Game 2 – (2) Morningside vs. (7) Mount Marty, 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.

Thursday, May 6
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 – Game 6 Winner vs. Game 6 Loser, 4 p.m. (if necessary)

Fan attendance: Fans are allowed to attend the games at Jensen Softball Complex and are encouraged to wear face coverings when not able to maintain physical distancing from other family groups. Admission is $10 for adults/senior citizens and $3 for K-12. Only those with NAIA passes and GPAC student ID’s will be admitted free of charge.

By the numbers

·        Concordia’s 2021 regular season was similar to the results the program put forth in 2019 when it finished with the same 15-7 GPAC mark and also slotted into the No. 3 spot in the GPAC tournament. The Bulldogs never did get a chance to play conference games in the shortened 2020 campaign. Over three seasons as head coach, Semler owns a GPAC record of 30-14. Concordia moved up to a tie for third place in the final 2021 conference regular season standings thanks to an active five-game win streak that included doubleheader sweeps over Dordt and Dakota Wesleyan.

·        Third baseman Hhana Haro has been sizzling at the plate. She will carry a nine-game hitting streak (at least one hit in 15 of 16 games) into the GPAC tournament. During that stretch, Haro has gone 18-for-33 (.545) with seven runs, four doubles, a triple, a home run, nine RBIs and an .818 slugging percentage. The native of Garden Grove, Calif., will go down as an all-time great for the program. Haro recently surpassed 100 career RBIs and needs just five more hits for 200 in her time as a Bulldog. She’s also a career .446 hitter with a .657 slugging percentage.

·        No player on the roster has been steadier or more consistent than Camry Moore. She leads the team with a .392 batting average and is coming off a fine week in the circle. Over last week’s six games, Moore earned two wins and a save and allowed just one earned run in 20 innings (0.35 ERA). Moore tossed a six-inning, three-hit shutout at Dakota Wesleyan. The Crete High School alum should be a strong candidate for first team All-GPAC honors. As a pitcher, she is 17-4 with a 1.66 ERA and has allowed just 13 walks in 122.1 innings. If that ERA holds, it would be the third best in a single season for a Concordia pitcher in program history.

·        Seven Bulldog regulars in the lineup are batting better than .300: Moore (.392), Haro (.373), Caitlyn McGarvie (.352), Tori Homolka (.347), Julia Van Wey (.345), Jenessa Jarvis (.327) and Kylee Nixon (.312). Homolka is the team leader in RBIs (38) while Moore paces the squad in total bases (79) and slugging percentage (.658). Seven Concordia players have hit at least one home run on the season, including Homolka (five), Moore (five), Nixon (four), Regan Karel (three), Haro (two), Jarvis (two) and Brena Brown (one). In conference games only, Concordia has outscored its opponents, 115-72.

·        The Bulldog Softball program has won two GPAC tournament titles (2007 and 2015). Since the championship in 2015, Concordia has twice reached the finals of pod play, but has fallen short of the GPAC Championship Series. In 2019, the Bulldogs also ventured to Morningside for GPAC postseason and were eliminated by the host Mustangs in the pod final. The GPAC tournament champion earns an automatic bid to the national tournament.

Morningside Bracket opponents

(2) Morningside – The Mustangs are ranked 11th in the NAIA coaches’ poll and held onto first place in the GPAC for most of the regular season. Their fortunes flipped on April 27 when Midland swept them in a doubleheader. Back on March 30, Morningside defeated Concordia by scores of 4-3 and 14-1 in Seward. Despite a recent three-game skid, the Mustangs have the ability to win the GPAC tournament. Head Coach Jessica Jones-Sitzmann’s squad has averaged 7.2 runs per game and sports an ERA of 2.19. Morningside has three particularly powerful hitters in its lineup in Morgan Nixon, Lexie Stolen and Ellie Cropley.

(6) Doane – The Tigers are back in the GPAC tournament after missing out in 2019. Doane has played a larger number of low scoring games while playing roughly .500 ball (25-22 overall) and leaning upon ace pitcher Josie Schnakenberg (13-12, 3.06 ERA). In the doubleheader in Crete, the Bulldogs tagged Schankenberg with 12 earned runs in 7.1 innings. The team’s biggest star has been Shelby Downard, who has recorded 14 doubles and 11 home runs at the plate and owns a 3.45 ERA in the circle.

(7) Mount Marty – The Lancers dropped back to the No. 7 seed in the conference after being swept in a doubleheader by Doane to end the regular season. Mount Marty boasts one of the league’s top hitters in Emma Burns, who is hitting .450 with 11 doubles, three triples and 10 home runs. Concordia managed to eliminate the Lancers from the GPAC tournament in 2019 and took two from them in the win bill back on April 24.

GPAC Championship Series
The winners of the Midland and Morningside Brackets will meet in the GPAC Championship Series on Saturday. It will a best of three series with game 1 beginning at 11 a.m. CT.