Seventh-inning rally allows for split at Hastings

By on Apr. 7, 2015 in Softball

Seventh-inning rally allows for split at Hastings

HASTINGS, Neb. – A wild seventh-inning rally allowed the Concordia University softball team to snatch a road win and earn a doubleheader split with host Hastings (18-12, 6-2 GPAC) on a chilly Tuesday evening. Following an 8-5 loss in the opening contest, the Bulldogs responded with a 4-3 come-from-behind victory in the night cap.

Second-year head coach Todd LaVelle’s snapped a three-game conference skid with the game 2 win. The Bulldogs are now 17-14 overall and 6-4 in conference action.

“I think we grew up a lot,” LaVelle said. “Our girls needed (the win in game 2). We were playing a little uptight the past couple weeks and I think this can help us get the monkey off our backs. To play two games without an error against that caliber of competition is really exciting.”

Down to their final three outs and trailing 3-1, Concordia went to a small-ball approach. Bri Liebelt and Shelby Schacher got the inning started with back-to-back singles. Pinch hitter Liz Maxwell then laid down a sacrifice bunt that resulted in a run and no outs due to a Hastings error. In the proceeding sequence, Schacher scored after a ball got away from the catcher and Maxwell came around for the go-ahead run on MaKenna Tracy’s squeeze bunt.

The Bulldogs had a found a way to manufacture runs after recording only a single hit through game 2’s first six innings against Bronco starter Chloe Boeka.

“Against a good pitcher you have to try to get her out of her rhythm,” LaVelle said. “We moved some runners into scoring position and it just opened everything up. They had to start defending. We rolled the dice a little bit, but it made sense to go with small ball.”

In an effort to give the Bulldogs their best possible chance against a Bronco squad that entered the night with wins in six of their previous eight outings, LaVelle used ace pitcher Michaela Woodward for every inning of both games. In game 2, Woodward held Hastings scoreless until allowing a run apiece in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings.

After the Bulldogs edged in front 4-3, Woodward shut the door in the seventh by retiring the Broncos’ 1, 2 and 4 hitters in the lineup. The Cortland, Neb., native scattered eight hits and three walks while striking out five over seven innings in game 2. She ended the night with a 10-6 record on the season.

“We wanted to see how she would do pitching back-to-back games because we’ll need her to do that down the stretch,” LaVelle said. “I thought she handled it well. She kept her composure and showed what a competitor she is. She gave up some home runs but didn’t let it affect her.”

Concordia got off to a rousing start in game 1 when second baseman Becca Walker delivered a three-run homer in the top of the first. Designated player Julia Tyree remained hot by adding her team-leading fifth home run in the third.

Hastings freshman shortstop Corrin Ziepke upstaged them all by reaching base in seven of her eight plate appearances. She homered once in each game. Her two-run blast in the bottom of the sixth of game 1 was a back breaker that provided a three-run Bronco cushion.

At the plate, Woodward went 3-for-3 with an RBI in game 1. Tyree notched one hit both games to extend her hitting streak to seven.

The Bulldogs are scheduled to host a doubleheader for the seventh time this season when Bellevue University (22-8) visits Seward on Wednesday. The twin bill is slated to get underway at 5 p.m. from Plum Creek Park.