Owens, Bulldogs rediscover hitting strokes in split with Midland

By Jacob Knabel on Apr. 25, 2016 in Softball

SEWARD, Neb. – Hoping to gear up for another late-season run, the Concordia University softball team piled up 21 hits while putting itself in position for a doubleheader sweep of Midland on Monday evening. However, the Bulldog rally fell short in game 2 and Concordia settled for a split for the seventh time during GPAC play. Following a 7-3 win in the opener, the Bulldogs dropped game 2, 6-5.

There were plenty of encouraging signs for third-year head coach Todd LaVelle’s squad in light of recent sluggish outings. Concordia now sits at 28-15 overall and 9-9 within the conference, tying it for fifth in the league standings.

“This was nice to see. Our girls came out and competed and that’s all we’ve asked,” LaVelle said. “We played well the first game. Michaela (Woodward) pitched a great first game and kept them off balance with her changeup most of the night. We hit the ball well. Even in the second game I thought we hit the ball hard.”

Sophomore third baseman Autumn Owens enjoyed a productive night, going 4-for-5 with three RBIs at the dish. She drove in the day’s first run with an RBI single in the top of the first of game 1. Two innings later she added another run-scoring base hit as part of a three-run third that included NiCole Dobernecker’s two-run single. Leah Kalkwarf also chipped in a two-run knock up the middle as Concordia built a 7-1 lead.

Joining Owens with four hits in the doubleheader were Kalkwarf (4-for-6) and Kylie Harpst (4-for-8). The production was a welcome sight after Concordia had averaged only 2.7 runs per game over its previous six GPAC contests.

“Basically we needed to just get back in our rhythm,” said Owens, who leads the team with seven home runs this season. “We believed we could do it and believed in each other. We came up and did our jobs when we needed it.”

Woodward put together one of her best outings in GPAC play this season. She went the distance while striking out seven and limiting the Warriors (21-24, 9-9 GPAC) to four hits in game 1. She managed to limit the damage despite six walks. She really settled in in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings when she retired nine-straight hitters.

Satisfied with game 1, LaVelle used the exact same lineup in game 2. This time the Warriors had better success against Woodward, racking up 11 hits and four runs off her in 4.2 innings. Harpst ended up taking the loss after giving up two unearned runs in relief of Woodward.

Down 6-4 in the bottom of the sixth, Dobernecker connected on a solo blast, marking her third home run of the season. The native of Charter Oak, Iowa, went a perfect 3-for-3 with four runs driven in on the day. She played a key role although she did not start either contest.

Midland’s Skyler Peterson, a Seward native, was the pitcher of record in both games. After being charged with the loss in game 1, she fired four innings in relief in game 2 and picked up the win. Five different Warrior hitters notched exactly two hits apiece.

The Bulldogs are in the midst of the final week of GPAC regular-season play. Concordia will travel to College of Saint Mary (18-18, 6-14 GPAC) for a 4 p.m. doubleheader on Wednesday. Then on Saturday, five Bulldog seniors will be honored as LaVelle’s club hosts Dordt (22-20, 8-10 GPAC) for 1 p.m. twin bill.

Concordia hopes to soon lock up its spot in the eight-team GPAC tournament, where it has a record of 11-3 over the past two years.

“The GPAC has gotten a lot tougher in softball,” LaVelle said. “Anybody can beat anybody any given night. I think you’re seeing that with all the splits.”