TUCSON, Ariz. – An extra-inning win over Baldwin Wallace University salvaged a 1-2 day as a hectic stretch in Tucson, Ariz., continued on Tuesday for the Concordia University softball team. Concordia freshman Michaela Woodward kept up her torrid hitting on the road trip to highlight day three of five under the Arizona sun.
Second-year head coach Todd LaVelle’s squad moved to 4-4 on the road trip and 4-6 overall. The afternoon victory over Baldwin Wallace, a 9-8 eight-inning contest, snapped a four-game skid. Losses on Tuesday came at the hands of the University of Jamestown (N.D.), 6-2, and Aquinas College (Mich.), 7-6.
“We’re getting a lot of people experience and at bats right now,” LaVelle said. “Even though we’re not winning as much as we’d like, a lot of players are getting valuable time. That’s only going to help us when we get back to Nebraska and get ready for conference games.”
The Bulldogs, who have seen three of their last five games decided by a single run, ended the day on a positive note when sophomore left fielder Diana Mendoza surfaced in the clutch with a one-out walk-off single with the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth, sending Baldwin Wallace (2-4) to defeat.
As part of collegiate softball rules, freshman Shelby Schacher was placed on second to begin the bottom of the eighth. A sacrifice bunt by Becca Walker was sandwiched in between intentional walks to Woodward and Molly Madsen. That set the stage for Mendoza’s heroics.
The walk-off win provided relief for a Bulldog team that had relinquished a 6-1 lead and fell behind 8-7 in the top of the sixth. The trio of Madsen (3-for-4, two doubles, run, RBI), Woodward (2-for-4, two RBIs, run) and Julia Tyree (2-for-3, double, RBI, run) were instrumental in building the lead.
Tyree also came to the rescue as a pitcher. She started in the circle and then returned to the rubber after Lexye Bruegman and Woodward struggled. Tyree earned the win by going 5.1 innings in which she allowed just a single run on four hits.
Concordia had its chances to win the second game of the day, jumping out to a 3-0 lead over Aquinas when Woodward delivered an RBI double in the top of the first. Becca Walker added a run-scoring single as part of the three-run frame.
Several hitters such as Madsen, Tyree, Walker and Woodward have thrived in the hot Arizona weather.
“They’re swinging it with a lot of confidence right now,” LaVelle said. “What we need to do is shore up our defense. We had several errors and walks today. Those things are fixable. We’re still trying some things. I think we’re really close. We’re definitely not pushing the panic button.”
In Tuesday’s opening contest, the Jimmies (5-6) led the entire way after striking for three runs in the top of the first. The Bulldogs got as close as 3-2 before Jamestown added a pair of runs in the fourth. In the defeat, Tyree (2-for-4) and Woodward (2-for-3, two RBIs) collected two hits apiece. The rest of the Concordia bats were stifled by Jimmie pitcher Brittany Rheault, who fired all seven frames.
Wednesday will mark the third-straight tripleheader of games for the Bulldogs. The Wednesday slate includes:
9 a.m. MST / 11 a.m. CDT – College of Saint Mary
11 a.m. MST / 1 p.m. CDT – Valley City State University (N.D.)
3:30 p.m. MST / 5:30 p.m. CDT – Robert Morris University (Ill.)
Live audio from each of the team's 13 games in Arizona can be heard via the Concordia Sports Network.
LaVelle says the team chatted for a long time after the day’s second loss. The Bulldog skipper placed an emphasis on getting back to having fun. That approach will carry the team into Wednesday’s action.