Arizona magic carries into day two

By Jacob Knabel on Mar. 7, 2016 in Softball

TUCSON, Ariz. – The desert storm marches on for Concordia University softball. On Monday the Bulldogs won three more times to move to 5-0 halfway through their road trip in Tucson, Ariz. The latest victories came over Siena Heights University (Mich.), 9-4, the University of Great Falls (Mont.), 10-9, and Ashford University (Iowa), 3-1, all in contests played at Lincoln Park.

Third-year head coach Todd LaVelle’s squad came from behind to win the final two games of the day. In the process, Concordia improved to 8-2 overall and to 21-6 in the state of Arizona over the past three seasons. The Bulldogs now own a six-game winning streak.

“Any time our opponent took the lead we just bounced right back,” LaVelle said. “That’s what I’m most proud of. That’s a great sign for the year. It’s a very resilient team. Once again we played really good team ball. We had some girls come in and make plays and our pitching staff did well.”

As part of a 22-run day offensively, third baseman Autumn Owens blasted a pair of home runs and catcher Taylor Huff doubled, tripled and drove in five runs in the middle game of Monday’s action. In addition, leadoff hitter Kylie Harpst hammered an RBI double in the win over Siena Heights and punished Great Falls with a trio of hits, including a two-run single. Harpst then fired a seven-inning complete game to close out another big day in The Grand Canyon State.

Up against the Argos (5-2 entering Monday’s action) in the second game, Concordia rallied back from deficits of 4-0 and 9-6. Great Falls put up five runs in the top of the sixth to go up three. The Bulldogs then responded with a Huff two-run triple and an RBI single from Owens, whose run-scoring hit made Concordia a walk-off winner late on Sunday night. Leading 10-9 in the seventh, the Bulldogs recorded the final out of the game after Great Falls put runners on the corners.

It took a while for the Concordia bats to get going in Monday’s finale. Ashford got a run in the second and led 1-0 until Owens belted a ringing solo homer in the bottom of the fourth. The Bulldogs gave Harpst all the runs she needed in the fifth when Bri Liebelt’s leadoff triple preceded run-scoring singles from Megan Ruppert and Diana Mendoza.

Harpst and Michaela Woodward again covered the lion’s share of the innings in the circle. Harpst got the win in the first and third games while Woodward was credited with a victory over Great Falls. Woodward closed out the opening contest after Harpst ran into trouble versus Siena Heights.

It was a long, but successful day for the Bulldogs, who celebrated by dining at Kentucky Fried Chicken afterwards.

“We saw some really good teams today,” LaVelle said. “They fought hard. And when you’re up early and get to the ball field at 9 o’clock and you’re leaving at almost 9 o’clock – that’s 12 hours at the field. Sometimes you lose your focus, especially with the cooler weather. The girls really did a nice job.”

The Bulldogs will take Tuesday off before returning to action in Tucson on Wednesday with two more games. Concordia will take on Purdue University-North Central (Ind.) (3-7) at 1:30 p.m. MT / 2:30 p.m. CT and then the University of St. Francis (Ill.) (6-2) at 3:30 p.m. MT / 4:30 p.m. CT on Wednesday. All games can be heard live via the Concordia Sports Network. Mike Meyer will call the play-by-play.