Concordia’s run at a GPAC Tournament Championship and a trip to the NAIA National Tournament fell short on Friday, as the Bulldogs dropped two games and were eliminated from tournament play. Midland University picked up a 1-0 win over Concordia in the winner’s bracket championship game on Friday afternoon. The Bulldogs then lost to Morningside College by the score of 5-1 in the loser’s bracket championship game on Friday evening. Concordia ends the 2011 campaign with a 27-17 record.
With the 5-1 win over the Bulldogs, Morningside advanced to Saturday’s championship game against Midland. Morningside would have to defeat Midland twice to win the tournament championship. However, the Mustangs already qualified for Nationals by winning the GPAC regular season title. Therefore, both Morningside and Midland will represent the GPAC at this year’s NAIA Championships.
Concordia entered Friday’s action as one of two remaining undefeated teams in the tournament. The Bulldogs earned wins over Northwestern and Morningside on the opening day of tournament action. With a win over Midland, Concordia would have clinched a spot in the tournament championship on Saturday. The Bulldog offense struggled in both games, however, and Midland and Morningside took advantage.
Midland and Concordia combined for just seven hits, as pitchers Lyndsi Eckelberry and Nicole Sempek controlled the game. Midland scored the only run of the game in the top of the sixth. Shannon DePuy led off the inning with a double. Following a sacrifice bunt by Kendall Mayher, Kali Reinsch delivered what would be the game-winning RBI single.
Concordia’s best chance to score came in the bottom of the sixth. Nicole Mapes (Greeley, Colo.) and Natalie Svoboda (Lincoln, Neb.) each singled in the inning to put runners at first and second with two outs. However, Eckelberry struck out Clarissa Eloge (Rising City, Neb.) to end the scoring threat. The Bulldogs went down in order in the bottom of the seventh, and Midland held on for the win.
Eckelberry allowed just three hits with no walks and 10 strikeouts to improve to 16-15 on the year. Sempek (Columbus, Neb.) was solid on the mound but suffered the loss to drop to 16-8 on the year. She allowed the one run on four hits with no walks and eight strikeouts. Svoboda, Mapes and Amber Topil (Seward, Neb.) had the only hits for the Concordia offense.
The offensive struggles continued in the 5-1 loss to Morningside, as Emma Remy was in total control on the mound for the Mustangs.
Morningside broke through with three runs in the bottom of the second. The Mustangs used three hits and a key Concordia error to take the lead. Courtney Vaughn singled and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt. A single by Emily Wassom put runners at first and third with one out. A Bulldog error plated Vaughn and advanced Wassom to third. Alison Kusler followed with a fielder’s choice RBI groundout to increase the Mustang lead to 2-0. Two batters later, Kylie Helmink delivered an RBI double to make the score 3-0.
The Mustangs poured it on with two more runs in the fourth. Mackenzie Neely had the big hit in the inning with a 2-run single to score Erin Bohlmann and Helmink.
Concordia scored its lone run in the top of the seventh. Topil led off with a double, and following a double by Amanda Baldwin (Wilber, Neb.), Kelsey Timmerman had an RBI sacrifice fly to score pinch runner Ashli Ellis (York, Neb.).
Sempek suffered the loss and finished the season with a 16-9 record. She allowed three runs (just one earned) on three hits and a walk in 1.2 innings of work. Sempek started on the mound in all four tournament games for Concordia. Amanda Beeson (Waverly, Neb.) allowed two runs on four hits with two walks and three strikeouts in 4.1 innings of relief. Nobody had more than one hit for the Bulldogs offensively. Concordia left seven on base in the loss.
For Morningside, Remy improved to 19-2 on the year after allowing just the one run and six hits with one walk and three strikeouts. Helmink was 2-for-2 with an RBI and a run scored, while Neely drove in two for Morningside College.