Early flurry keys senior day victory

By Jacob Knabel on Apr. 26, 2017 in Softball

SEWARD, Neb. – While celebrating senior day, the Concordia University softball team blitzed College of Saint Mary in the early innings and rode the early outburst to victory in what turned out to be a single, seven-inning affair. Behind Michaela Woodward, making her 22nd start in the circle this season, the Bulldogs defeated the Flames, 9-3, at Plum Creek Park on a bone chilling Wednesday evening. Concordia and College of Saint Mary will play the second game at 5 p.m. CT on Thursday (April 27).

Fourth-year head coach Todd LaVelle’s squad has moved to 30-11 overall and to 12-5 in the GPAC (second place). This marks the third time in LaVelle’s tenure that the Bulldogs have reached the 30-win mark.

The only senior that has been in the program all four years has been left fielder Diana Mendoza, a constant during LaVelle’s tenure. Mendoza says the team’s run of 17 wins in their last 21 games has been about having fun.

“We’re having fun and we’re playing how we’re meant to be playing,” Mendoza said. “It’s how we should have been playing from the beginning. It’s awesome being on a team with how much chemistry we have.”

Mendoza and each of the other four seniors in uniform were part of Wednesday’s starting lineup. All five were significant contributors. Kylie Harpst went 2-for-3 with a pair of doubles, three runs scored and two RBIs. Megan Ruppert went 2-for-4 with two runs, AJ Wygant added a hit and an RBI and Mendoza was 1-for-2 with a couple of grabs in the outfield.

In the circle, Michaela Woodward, who will graduate early, was her usual bullish self. She surrendered six hits and five walks, but made big pitches with runners on base. She struck out six while running her season record to 16-7.

Woodward got the run support she needed when the Bulldogs picked on Flames ace Nicki Larsen by scoring three times in the first inning and four more times in the second. Larsen was tagged for eight earned runs and 10 hits.

Out of the No. 6 spot in the Concordia lineup, freshman Ronee Watson recorded a 2-for-4, three RBI day that also helped make up for the absence of slugging third baseman Autumn Owens. Seven different Bulldogs notched at least one hit.

Larsen led the College of Saint Mary (16-19, 9-8 GPAC) offensive attack with two hits. The Flames are now sitting in fifth place.

The Bulldogs will have just two games remaining after they finish up with the Flames on Thursday. The nonconference doubleheader with Bethany College that had been scheduled for Thursday has been canceled to make way for the contest with College of Saint Mary. Concordia is also slated to play at Dordt (18-17, 11-7 GPAC) at 1 p.m. CT on Saturday.