SEWARD, Neb. – While hosting for the first time in conference play, the Concordia University softball team scratched across a sufficient number of runs on an evening when its pitchers were stellar. Brittany Woolridge recorded her first shutout as a Bulldog and Grace Bernhardt was nearly as effective in game two. Their efforts allowed Concordia to notch wins by scores of 2-0 and 7-3 over visiting Hastings on Thursday evening (April 5).
After beginning GPAC action with three-consecutive nail-biting defeats, this was exactly what fifth-year head coach Todd LaVelle had hoped to see. The Bulldogs have improved to 13-12 overall and to 2-3 in league play.
“I was very proud of our pitching staff tonight. They did an awesome job,” LaVelle said. “This whole week we’ve been challenging the kids. The big thing we said is we need to play as one unit. It’s been one phase of our game, our hitting, that’s been doing really well. It was nice to see our pitching and defense step up. Every time we play Hastings the last five years it’s a battle.”
A native of Tucson, Ariz., Woolridge has had to adapt to the cold in her first two home appearances. She did just fine on Thursday when she rarely found herself in trouble. She scattered five hits (all singles) and walked only one hitter in a masterful performance. Even a seventh-inning error would not phase Woolridge, who induced a grounder right back to the circle to preserve the shutout.
Considering the team’s run scoring production to this point, the steady growth of Woolridge could make the Bulldogs a dangerous team down the stretch.
“It’s been hard. It’s just been frustrating,” said Woolridge of battling through injury at the beginning of the season. “But I definitely have my teammates to lean on and our coaching staff has helped me so much. Coming here has been a blessing.”
At the plate, freshman leadoff hitter Mackinsey Schmidt enjoyed a nice day. She delivered an RBI single to put Concordia in front in the third inning of game one. She went 4-for-7 in the doubleheader. After a rare 0-for-3 effort in game one, GPAC batting leader Hhana Haro heated up with a 3-for-4 game two that included a pair of doubles.
The Bulldogs turned a nerve-wracking 3-2 game two lead into a 7-2 advantage with a run in the fifth and then three in the sixth. The team’s final turn at bat got started with back-to-back doubles from Kenna Heath and Maddie Fousek.
Bernhardt tossed six innings and got the win in game two. She left the contest after allowing a single to begin the seventh. Baily Clear then got the final three outs. Bernhardt surrendered just one earned run on four hits and five walks. She struck out three while picking up her sixth victory of the campaign.
If weather allows, the Bulldogs will play at league favorite and 25th-ranked Morningside (15-8, 3-1 GPAC) on Saturday. The doubleheader is slated to begin at 1 p.m. CT in Sioux City, Iowa. One of last season’s highlight moments occurred when Leah Kalkwarf’s walk-off RBI singled lifted Concordia to a victory over the then 10th-ranked Mustangs in the second game of a twin bill.