CRETE, Neb. – For first time this season, Concordia softball took the diamond in the state of Nebraska in a GPAC-opening doubleheader at Doane (6-14, 1-1 GPAC). The Bulldogs used another strong performance from junior right-handed pitcher Amanda Beeson to ride to a 7-0 game one victory prior to a 4-3 loss in game two. The Bulldogs moved to 5-10 overall and began conference play at 1-1.
Beeson threw her second-straight shutout to extend her scoreless streak to 14.2 innings (including 1/3 inning of relief in game two). On Wednesday she scattered eight Doane hits and two walks and struck out six. On several occasions she tightened the screws with runners on base to keep the Tigers off the scoreboard.
“The biggest thing is that I’ve changed a lot of my mechanics,” Beeson said. “You go in knowing you have to adjust on the mound. That’s the biggest thing, and my teammates help me know when to adjust. They say, ‘hey, amp it up or tone it back.’ So it was really a team effort today.”
The day’s first game saw a scoreless pitcher’s duel through three innings until the Bulldogs broke the ice in a big way in the top half of the fourth. Concordia brought eight batters to the plate as part of a five-run, six-hit inning. Nicole Mapes topped it off with a two-run single down the right field line two batters after three-consecutive RBI singles delivered by Molly Madsen, Amber Topil and Angela Harstad.
Beeson, the reigning GPAC Pitcher of the Week, worked her way out of a jam like Houdini in the bottom of the fourth inning when the Tigers loaded the bases with no out. Beeson then induced a pop up to short from Alyssa Maraia that resulted in a double play as the runner from third strayed too far off the base. After a hit by pitch, Beeson struck out Amber Alvarez to end the threat.
“She did a great job in the circle, but it takes the whole team to win,” Concordia head coach Frank Greene said. “But she does a great job for us out there. Topil did a great job calling pitches for that game. That combination is what really makes a difference. I thought they did a good job working together.”
Concordia added some insurance in the seventh with Madsen’s RBI single and Topil’s RBI double that launched over the left fielder’s head to cap the game’s scoring. Madsen and Topil each went 3-for-4 with two RBIs and a run in game one. Two of Topil’s hits were doubles.
The night cap ended in controversy as Doane walked off a winner with a run on a squeeze bunt in the bottom of the seventh. The Tiger’s Kelsey Huenink bunted back to Beeson, who relieved starter Julia Tyree. Beeson flipped the ball to Topil at the plate, but the umpire ruled that Whitney Hinn got under the tag safely, ending the game.
Concordia tied the game, 3-3, in the top of the seventh when Tyree’s grounder to short was misplayed, allowing Danielle Harstad to charge home from third with two outs. Down to their final out and no one on base, the Bulldogs loaded them up with a walk, a hit batter and a Topil infield hit.
The Bulldogs got on top right away in game two with third baseman Danielle Harstad’s laser of a double to left center to score the first run. Madsen then cracked yet another RBI single to provide Tyree a two-run cushion.
Doane got one run in the bottom of the first and then one in the third to tie the score. The Tigers took the lead when Kelsey Huenink drew a bases-loaded walk with two outs in the fifth.
Madsen and Topil, Concordia’s Nos. 5 and 6 hitters in the lineup, starred at the plate. Madsen went 4-for-7 on the day with three RBIs and a run. Topil turned in a 4-for-8 performance with two RBIs and a run.
“It was nice to get a win to open the conference,” Greene said. “We should have had two. Last one we had plenty of opportunities, we just didn’t cash. We left a lot of runners on base. We left three on in the last inning. That’s just something you don’t want to do very often.”
The game time temperature hovered around 50 degrees with a steady wind from the south that blew out to left field in Crete.
Concordia will close the weekend with a pair of games at the Morningside Invitational Softball Tournament on Friday. The Bulldogs play Dakota State University (S.D) (8-6) at 11 a.m. and then Mayville State University (N.D.) (2-8) at 1 p.m. Both games will take place in Sioux City, Iowa.