Bulldog softball hopes to make another GPAC tournament run

By on Apr. 28, 2015 in Softball

Bulldog softball hopes to make another GPAC tournament run

GPAC tournament info

SEWARD, Neb. – A year after winning five-consecutive GPAC tournament elimination games to qualify for the program’s first ever national tournament, the Concordia University softball team eyes another late-season run. As the No. 7 seed the Bulldogs (23-20, 10-10 GPAC) will play at second-seeded Midland (24-21, 14-6 GPAC) in Fremont, Neb., at 2 p.m. CT on Wednesday.

Unlike past seasons when all GPAC tournament qualifiers met at a single sight, top seeds Doane and Midland both welcome three other conference squads in four-team sections of the 2015 event. As the regular-season champion, Doane has already clinched one of the conference’s two automatic bids to the national tournament. The other berth will go to the GPAC tournament champion – or runner up if the Tigers capture the tournament title.

As part of a roller-coaster campaign following the 2014 breakthrough, second-year head coach Todd LaVelle’s squad has not won or lost more than five-consecutive games. Despite coming up short of their preseason placement of second in the league coaches’ poll, the Bulldogs have clinched the program’s 19th winning season over the past 20 years (1996-2015).

“This should give us a great springboard into the conference tournament,” LaVelle said of the team’s regular-season ending win. “Now everyone is 0-0. I think any of the eight teams could win it. It’s going to come down to who gets hot.”

While inconsistency has been a theme in 2015, junior Julia Tyree has blossomed into one of the top hitters in the conference. The native of Benicia, Calif., needs two more long balls to tie Clarissa Eloge’s program single-season record of nine (2009 and 2010). Tyree leads Concordia in the following categories: batting average (.429), runs (33), hits (51), doubles (10), home runs (seven), RBIs (35), total bases (84), slugging (.706), walks (19) and on-base percentage (.539).

In the circle, freshman Michaela Woodward dominated in her latest outing. She fired a one-hit shutout in a 2-0 victory on Sunday that snapped Morningside’s nine-game winning streak. Woodward struck out a career high 12 hitters and improved to 14-10. She will be counted on to shoulder much of the pitching load in postseason play.

As a hitter, Woodward ranks second on the team to Tyree in batting average (.376). Three other Bulldog regulars sport batting averages above .300: Becca Walker (.353), MaKenna Tracy (.326) and Shelby Schacher (.312).

In this season’s meeting between Concordia and Midland, the Warriors earned a doubleheader sweep in Fremont on April 21. The Bulldogs relinquished a 9-6 eighth-inning lead in a 10-9 extra-inning defeat in game 1. Midland then won 7-0 in game 2 behind Sarah Leimser’s four-hit shutout.

Fueled by shortstop and leadoff hitter Kayla Ritzdorf (conference-leading 19 doubles), the Warriors possess one of the GPAC’s top offensive attacks. Outfielder Sherise Burnside (team high five homers) provides middle-of-the-order thump for a team with the second most home runs among GPAC squads. Ace pitcher Sammy Hislop (53-37, 2.94 ERA in 101 career games) has been one of the league’s top pitchers over the past four years.

The other two teams headed to the ‘Midland Bracket’ are third-seeded Hastings (27-21, 12-8 GPAC) and sixth-seeded Nebraska Wesleyan (18-20, 11-9 GPAC). The complete conference tournament schedule can be viewed below.

Last season the Bulldogs were run-ruled in their opening game of the GPAC tournament and then proceeded to win five-straight elimination games to reach the conference championship and earn an automatic berth to the national tournament. Amber Topil clinched the national tournament bid with a two-out, two-run, walk-off home run off Hislop in the bottom of the eighth of a 10-8 victory over Midland on May 2, 2014.

Midland Bracket Information

All games played in the Midland Bracket at Christensen Field will be broadcast on the Midland Athletics Livestream,here. Commentary will be provided for each Midland game, with the remainder of the contests TBA.

Admission: $8 for Adults and $3 for Students (Each day, with no All-Tournament pass). No seasons passes allowed, with the exception of NAIA issued passes being valid. Visiting school staff/faculty must pay as well.

(*NOTE that GPAC Students with ID are free, but high school and other students are $3.)

Other important information for coaches and teams can be found, here. For fan information regarding lodging and local restaurants, click here.

*GPAC rank in parentheses

Concordia (23-20, 10-10 GPAC)
Head coach: Todd Lavelle (55-36, 2nd year)
Runs/game: 5.88 (5th)
Batting average: .308 (4th)
Slugging percentage: .422 (5th)
ERA: 5.10 (9th)
Opponent batting average: .302 (8th)
Fielding percentage: .947 (6th)
Top hitter: Julia Tyree (.429 BA, 7 HR, 35 RBI, .539 OBP, .706 SLG)
Top pitcher: Michaela Woodward (14-10 W-L, 4.88 ERA, 140.2 IP, 178 H, 70 BB, 119 K) 

Midland (24-21, 14-6 GPAC)
Head coach: Keith Kramme (530-494-1, 20th year)
Runs/game: 5.98 (4th)
Batting average: .315 (3rd)
Slugging percentage: .454 (2nd)
ERA: 4.60 (8th)
Opponent batting average: .291 (6th)
Fielding percentage: .951 (3rd)
Top hitter: Kayla Ritzdorf (.392 BA, 4 HR, 34 RBI, .478 OBP, .634 SLG)
Top pitcher: Sammy Hislop (12-9 W-L, 4.01 ERA, 136 IP, 126 H, 86 BB, 171 K) 

2015 GPAC Softball Tournament Brackets

DOANE BRACKET – Ledon Softball Complex

Wednesday, April 29
Game #1 (4) Northwestern (22-22, 12-8) vs. (5) Morningside (23-18, 11-9) – 10:00 a.m.
Game #2 (1) Doane (31-9, 17-3) vs. (8) Dordt (19-26, 9-11) – 12:00 p.m.
Game #3 Winner Game #1 vs. Winner Game #2 – 2:00 p.m.
Game #4 – Loser Game #1 vs. Loser Game #2 – 4:00 p.m.

Thursday, April 30
Game #5 – Winner Game #4 vs. Loser Game #3 – 12:00 p.m.
Game #6 – Winner Game #3 vs. Winner Game #5 – 2:00 p.m.
Game #7 – if necessary* Game #6 Winner/Loser rematch – 4:00 p.m.

MIDLAND BRACKET – Christensen Field

Wednesday, April 29
Game #1 – (3) Hastings (27-21, 12-8) vs. (6) Nebraska Wesleyan (18-20, 11-9) – 12:00 p.m.
Game #2 – (2) Midland (24-21, 14-6) vs. (7) Concordia (23-20, 10-10) – 2:00 p.m.
Game #3 – Winner Game #1 vs. Winner Game #2 – 4:00 p.m.
Game #4 – Loser Game #1 vs. Loser Game #2 – 6:00 p.m.

Thursday, April 30
Game #5 – Winner Game #4 vs. Loser Game #3 – 12:00 p.m.
Game #6 – Winner Game #3 vs. Winner Game #5 – 2:00 p.m.
Game #7 – if necessary* Game #6 Winner/Loser rematch – 4:00 p.m.

GPAC Softball Tournament Championship Series 

Saturday, May 2
Doane Bracket Winner vs. Midland Bracket Winner (at highest seed)
(Best 2 of 3 Format)
11:00 a.m. (Game 1), 1:00 p.m. (Game 2), 5:00 p.m. (Game 3, if necessary)