SEWARD, Neb. – The Concordia University softball team is ready to flush its home-opening doubleheader that resulted in a pair of losses that came at the hands of Northwestern on March 18. The Bulldogs are scheduled to play six games this week, including four at Plum Creek Park. Up first is Tuesday’s visit from rival Doane.
This week’s schedule
Tuesday, March 21 – vs. Doane (15-11, 0-0 GPAC), 5 p.m.
Thursday, March 23 – vs. Nebraska Wesleyan (13-5), 5 p.m.
Saturday, March 25 – at Briar Cliff (7-14, 1-1 GPAC), 1 p.m.
The two home doubleheaders will be shown live on the Concordia Sports Network.
Fourth-year head coach Todd LaVelle’s squad allowed leads to slip away in both ends of last week’s home twin bill with the Red Raiders, who scored all of their 17 runs in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings. In the 13-9 game 2 loss, Concordia pounded out 13 hits. Ronee Watson delivered a 3-for-4 performance, Megan Ruppert went 3-for-4 with four RBIs and Autumn Owens knocked in three runs while going 2-for-4 at the plate.
The offensive outburst was a positive sign for a Bulldog team still trying to find its groove at the plate. So far, four players own batting averages north of .300: Watson (.368), Ruppert (.357), Owens (.356) and Michaela Woodward (.345). Owens has been the team’s biggest slugger, cracking four home runs and 18 RBIs. She’s slugging .644 and has collected nine extra base hits.
Woodward will look to regain the pitching touch she showcased throughout the Tucson Invitational, where she allowed only two earned runs through 23.1 innings. After firing four shutout innings to begin game 1, Woodward struggled the rest of the day against Northwestern hitters. She was tagged for eight earned runs in the second game. Even with that rough outing, Woodward owns a 2.30 ERA and 44 strikeouts in 61 innings this season.
The Tigers, a national qualifier in 2015 and 2016, received votes in the NAIA preseason poll. Renae Littrell’s squad owns a win over No. 25 San Diego Christian. The Tiger offensive attack has been spurred by Nicole Fernandez, who is batting .400. Nebraska Wesleyan is in its first season as a member of the Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. Prairie Wolf pitchers own a 1.96 ERA. Ace LeighAnn Novotny is 8-3 with a 1.62 ERA over 65 innings. Briar Cliff was picked to finish 10th in the GPAC. The Chargers also opened up conference play over the weekend and split a twin bill with Hastings.
Next week Concordia will play exclusively against GPAC opponents. The Bulldogs will be at Hastings at 5 p.m. CT on March 29 before hosting conference favorite Morningside at 1 p.m. on April 1.