TUCSON, Ariz. – The Concordia University softball team blew one team away and then rallied for a nail-biting win to close its first day of action in Tucson, Ariz., on Sunday night. After a 12-1, run-rule victory over Aquinas College (Mich.) in the opener, the Bulldogs got a walk-off RBI single from Autumn Owens to complete a 5-4 win over the University of Michigan-Dearborn late in the evening.
Third-year head coach Todd LaVelle’s squad went 21 days without playing entering the Tucson Invitational. Now on a three-game win streak, Concordia has moved to 5-2 overall.
“We’re going to have quite a few of those games down here,” LaVelle said of the tense night cap. “That was a good one to win. The girls showed a lot of enthusiasm throughout the day and did what they had to do.”
The Concordia bats were quieted in game 2. That is until there were two outs in the bottom of the fifth inning with Michigan-Dearborn leading 3-0. Kylie Harpst spurred the rally with an RBI double. Julia Tyree followed a two-run single to even up the score at 3-3. Taylor Huff then singled in the go-ahead run.
Down to their final out in the top of the seventh, the Wolverines (4-4) got a clutch base hit to tie it up, 4-4. In the bottom half, the Bulldogs loaded the bases to set the stage for Owens, who capped a perfect start to the trip. The bags were chalk full of Bulldogs after Harpst doubled, Michaela Woodward was intentionally walked and Bri Liebelt got drilled by a pitch.
It was something of a game of attrition. Said LaVelle, “Both teams nearly drained the bench. We brought 19 players and all 19 contributed in both games.”
Harpst, a Lincoln native, enjoyed a big day. She homered and got the win in the circle in the rout of Aquinas. After four innings of work in the first game, Harpst gave way to AJ Wygant for the final frame of the five-inning victory. Then in game 2, Woodward fired all seven innings.
“Everybody played well. We were really relaxed at the plate,” LaVelle said of the win over Aquinas. “I felt we were really disciplined and hit the ball extremely well, something we’ve been working on for the last two weeks of practice.”
The Bulldogs will be back in action in The Grand Canyon State on Monday when they have a trio of contests scheduled. The tripleheader begins with a matchup with Siena Heights University (Mich.) (2-2) at 11:30 a.m. MT / 12:30 p.m. CT and continues with contests versus the University of Great Falls (Mont.) (5-2) at 2 p.m. MT / 3 p.m. CT and Ashford University (Iowa) (8-6) at 6:30 p.m. MT / 7:30 p.m. CT.