TUCSON, Ariz. – Complete games from each of its three starting pitchers fueled a trio of victories for the Concordia University softball team in The Grand Canyon State on Wednesday. The Bulldogs allowed a combined five runs in earning wins over College of Saint Mary, 10-3, Valley City State University (N.D), 2-1, and Robert Morris University (Ill.), 9-1 (six innings).
Second-year head coach Todd LaVelle’s squad has now won four-consecutive games. Concordia owns a mark of 7-4 on the current 13-game road trip and sits at 7-6 overall.
“We needed it. We played loose and had fun today,” LaVelle said. “We came into the day with the strategy of giving each pitcher their own game and I think that helped them relax.
The Bulldogs returned to their winning ways on the strength of their pitching staff. The triplet of Jordana Goncalves, Julia Tyree and Michaela Woodward combined for 20 innings of work and a total of just 12 hits allowed.
In the day’s opening contest, the Bulldogs faced a 2-1 deficit entering the fifth inning against in-state College of Saint Mary. That’s when the offense caught fire in striking for four runs in the fifth, three in the sixth and another two in the seventh to open up a 10-2 lead. The offensive attack was led by the likes of Diana Mendoza (three hits) and Tyree, who blasted her first home run of the season as part of the three-run sixth.
The 10 runs were plenty of support for British Columbia native Goncalves, who went the distance in a seven-inning complete game. She piled up 10 strikeouts while scattering six walks and four hits.
In its second game of the day, Concordia made a pair of third-inning runs stand up thanks to the work of Tyree in the circle. The native of Benicia, Calif., tossed a complete game of her own. She limited the Vikings to just four hits. She struck out only two, meaning the defense behind her had to convert 19 batted balls into outs.
The Bulldogs got their runs on a Becca Walker sacrifice fly that scored Regan Doiel and a Woodward RBI double. Five hits proved to be enough for Concordia.
In the third game, the Bulldog bats came alive once again. Freshman Autumn Owens drilled her second home run (three-run blast) of the trip and also doubled and scored in the second inning. Concordia enacted the eight-run rule in the sixth inning with a pair of runs. The ninth run came on Owens’ grounder that eluded the shortstop.
Woodward picked up the win over Robert Morris with a six-inning complete game. She also collected two run-scoring singles in continuing her red-hot work at the dish. Woodward is one of several freshmen who have seen extensive action in Arizona.
“We’ve started four and sometimes five freshmen,” LaVelle said. “We knew it would take some time for them to get comfortable. Their stats speak for themselves. They’re playing well and I’m excited to see what they can do as the season moves on.”
The Bulldogs will close their 13-game Arizona road trip on Thursday with a doubleheader at Arizona Christian University in Scottsdale. First pitch is slated for 3 p.m. MST / 5 p.m. CDT. The team will then enjoy a spring training Major League Baseball game on Friday before flying out of Arizona on Saturday.
Live audio of Thursday’s doubleheader will be provided by the Concordia Sports Network with Mike Meyer calling the action.
LaVelle hopes Wednesday’s momentum carries into Thursday.
“Obviously I’m proud of them,” LaVelle said. “The trip didn’t start out the way we wanted it to but we bounced back today and got it done. I think we’re starting to come together.”