Bulldogs fall twice while opening season at No. 17 Ottawa

By Jacob Knabel on Feb. 10, 2024 in Softball

OTTAWA, Kan. – In its 2024 season opening doubleheader, the Concordia University Softball team got an early measuring stick while up against the NAIA’s 17th-ranked team. Defending Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference champion Ottawa University dealt the Bulldogs defeats by scores of 8-0 (six innings) and 10-2 (five innings) in Ottawa, Kan., on Saturday (Feb. 10). The Braves have moved to 6-0 while sweeping doubleheaders from two GPAC opponents.

This marked the start of year two for Brock Culler as head coach of the Concordia program. Culler and his squad are confident there will be better days ahead.

“Ottawa is a really good team,” Culler said. “Our approach at the plate wasn’t very good today. We have to be a lot better than what we were today. In game two, you’re not going to beat any team with the stat line we had. We didn’t help ourselves out today. We have some things we have to get better at obviously. We’ve been practicing really well. We needed this – we needed to go out and see where we’re at.

Statistically, it was a tough day for the Bulldogs, who totaled a combined seven hits over the two contests. The circumstances were made more challenging as Concordia issued eight walks in the second game. There were two innings in particular that got away from the Bulldogs – the four-run first for Ottawa in game one and the eight-run second for the Braves in game two. A three-run homer for Reagan Hammons in the first inning of game one helped set the tone for undefeated Ottawa.

Concordia got its lone runs of the day in the second inning of game two. A pair of walks and a Jennifer Katz single loaded the bases for Aubrey Bruning. The lefty slapper drilled a liner off the pitcher for an RBI single and Hanna Bowers then followed with a sacrifice fly. The Bulldogs owned a 2-0 lead before the Braves responded in a big way. Taylor Glause contributed a double as part of the second game and Julia Van Wey moved within one hit of 100 for her career.

Freshman shortstop Laycee Josoff made her anticipated debut and collected two hits in the first game of the day. She was one of five Bulldogs to make their Concordia debuts on Saturday. In the pitching circle, Megan Eurich got the ball in game one and covered 5.1 innings, allowing eight runs (five earned) on nine hits. She struck out five and did not issue a walk. Freshman Kaylei Denison started game two and surrendered six runs in 3.1 innings. Taryn Ganstrom made relief appearances in both ends of the twin bill.

The opening doubleheader did not go how the Bulldogs had hoped, but they are going to use it as a lesson as they look to improve upon the 2023 season. Said Culler, “We’re a lot better offensive team than we showed today. That was a little frustrating, but we’re staying optimistic. We’re going to have a good week of practice. We’ll bounce back and play again next weekend.”

Up next will be the NAIA Kansas City Invite hosted by Avila University the weekend of Feb. 17-18. Concordia’s opponents over those two days will be Evangel University (Mo.), Bethel College (Kan.), St. Mary of the Woods College (Ind.) and Benedictine College (Kan.). The location will be the Home Field Complex in Kansas City.