SEWARD, Neb. – It’s been a rivalry week of sorts for the Concordia University softball team, which has earned bragging rights in eastern Nebraska. Two days after sweeping a doubleheader from Doane, the Bulldogs did the same to Nebraska Wesleyan. In a twin bill that took place at Plum Creek Park in Seward on Thursday, Concordia won by scores of 5-4 and 11-4.
Fourth-year head coach Todd LaVelle’s squad effectively responded after being swept by Northwestern in its GPAC opening doubleheader last weekend. The Bulldogs are now 17-7 overall and riding a four-game win streak. Suddenly hot Concordia pounded out 13 hits in both of Thursday’s games.
“Offensively we had a great night,” LaVelle said. “In that first game we kind of got ourselves in a little trouble and it could have been a lot worse so I was proud of our pitching staff. There were a lot of times they had runners in scoring position and we worked out of it. On the flip side, it’s tough to bunt someone over when we know, any given time they can hit the gaps.”
Kalkwarf shined with both the bat and the glove. The sophomore second baseman from Omaha enjoyed a 5-for-8 day (four RBIs) at the plate and robbed a Prairie Wolf of a hit in game 1 with a sprawling stab up the middle. She also made a fine running grab while motoring into shallow center field.
It was one of Kalkwarf’s finest performances as a Bulldog.
“I finally got my hitting together and cleared my head up there,” Kalkwarf said. “I hit rock bottom a few weeks ago. I’m ready to keep going.”
Concordia faced deficits in both ends of the doubleheader. Game 1 came down to the final at bat. With the game tied 4-4 in the bottom of the seventh, a Kalkwarf single was sandwiched in between walks by Ronee Watson and Taryn Thomas. Two batters later, Jamie Lefebure waited out a walk that forced in the walk-off run.
Concordia singled Nebraska Wesleyan (13-7) to death in game 2. Twelve of the 13 hits went for just a single base, but the Bulldogs strung them together four splurges of four runs in the third and three in the fifth. For good measure, they added two more in the sixth to run away from the Prairie Wolves.
Kalkwarf and Lefebure made it exceedingly difficult for Wesleyan to roll the ball through the infield. Lefebure ranged way over near the bag at second on one particular 6-3 putout and also started a double play that got her team out of a jam in the sixth inning of the night cap.
“I can missed it actually,” Kalkwarf said of spending much of this season at short before moving over to her more familiar second base role. “It’s good to be back. I feel comfortable there. I love having Jamie right there. We work perfect together. We communicate together.”
On the heels of an eight-RBI performance versus Doane, Harpst stayed hot by going 3-for-7 with four runs scored on Thursday. In addition, Michaela Woodward belted a home run for the second-straight home date. Woodward worked four innings in relief of Harpst in game 2 and picked up the pitching victory.
LaVelle used three different pitchers in game 1. After some first inning struggles, freshman Delaney Nance settled in and covered 3.1 innings (two runs allowed). AJ Wygant also threw 3.1 innings before Harpst got the final out of the seventh on a strikeout.
Now a full-fledged NCAA Division III affiliate, Nebraska Wesleyan totaled 17 hits on the night. Morgan Shipley was 4-for-7 out of the No. 2 spot.
Weather permitting, the Bulldogs are scheduled to return to conference action on Saturday with a road trip to Sioux City, Iowa, to play Briar Cliff (7-14, 1-1 GPAC) in a doubleheader. First pitch is set for 1 p.m. CT. The Chargers split with Hastings in their first conference twin bill of 2017.