SEWARD, Neb. – The Concordia softball team hopes to keep the positive vibes flowing this week as it looks ahead to a pair of GPAC doubleheaders. The Bulldogs had the Easter weekend off after sweeping a twin bill from Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference leader Kansas Wesleyan University on April 13. Head coach Todd LaVelle’s squad has won five games in a row and 13 of its last 16.
This week’s schedule
Tuesday, April 18 – at Midland (13-19, 3-7 GPAC), 5 p.m.
Saturday, April 22 – vs. Mount Marty (10-17, 4-10 GPAC), 1 p.m.
With eight games left on the GPAC schedule, Concordia remains in the hunt for its first GPAC regular-season championship since 2008. In a cluster near the top, the Bulldogs (26-10, 8-4 GPAC) are tied for second place with College of Saint Mary and Dordt. Tenth-ranked Morningside is in the cat bird’s seat with a league record of 8-2. One of those losses came against Concordia.
This year’s squad has a chance to be the best yet under LaVelle. The 2017 Bulldogs own a .722 winning percentage. If that number held up, it would mark the third highest winning percentage in program history. The No. 1 spot on that list is held by the 1998 squad that went 33-10 overall. The ’05 group that went 36-19 continues to own the program record for most wins in a single season. With 26 wins at the moment, the 2017 Concordia team ranks in a tie for 11th on the school single-season list.
Sophomore second baseman Leah Kalkwarf has been a force during the recent run of success. The Omaha native owns a nine-game hitting streak, during which she’s gone 15-for-30 (.500) with 10 runs, eight RBIs, five doubles, a triple and a home run. She belted her first long ball of the season while going 3-for-5 in the doubleheader versus Kansas Wesleyan. Over the course of her hitting streak, Kalkwarf has raised her batting average from .276 to .333.
Concordia has averaged 7.2 runs during its five-game win streak and continues to rate as one of the top offensive teams in the GPAC. Among conference teams, the Bulldogs rank second in runs per game (6.1), second in batting average (.324), second in hits per game (9.1), third in slugging percentage (.458) and third in stolen bases per game (1.08). Seven Bulldog regulars are hitting better than .300: Megan Ruppert (.407), Autumn Owens (.357), Taryn Thomas (.347), Ronee Watson (.345), Kalkwarf (.333), Michaela Woodward (.330) and Kylie Harpst (.301).
Midland has slid back in the GPAC standings since placing second in 2015 when it went 14-6 in conference play. Despite leading the conference in batting average (.348), the Warriors are tied for eighth in the GPAC standings. They rank ninth in team ERA (4.99). Meanwhile, Mount Marty has increased its competitive level behind ace pitcher Amber Krasue, who owns a 1.86 ERA over 86.1 innings. The Lancers have picked up wins this season over the likes of Doane and Hastings.
The Bulldogs are scheduled to close out their home schedule next week when College of Saint Mary (April 26) and Bethany College (April 27) visit Seward. Both doubleheaders are set to get started at 5 p.m. CT.