ORANGE CITY, Iowa – There were some tense moments on Wednesday (May 4) evening, but the Concordia University Softball team kept its season alive thanks to the help of a seventh-inning, elimination game rally. As part of the GPAC Tournament’s Northwestern Bracket, the seventh-seeded Bulldogs endured an 8-0 run-rule loss at the hands of second-seeded Northwestern before holding off sixth-seeded College of Saint Mary, 6-5, in Orange City, Iowa. Kylie Shottenkirk enjoyed a 6-for-6 day that included an RBI single during Concordia’s season-saving rally.
The postseason victory marked the first in the career of Head Coach Tatum Edwards whose squad remains at .500 overall (23-23). The season will be on the line from here on out as part of the double-elimination format.
“Going into the second game we knew it was win or go home,” Edwards said. “I wasn’t going to put any pressure on them to feel that. I just said, ‘Let’s just go out and have fun and compete for each other.’ I felt like we played loose and had a good time in the dugout. Jerzi (Rowe) pitched well and we competed. This game can bring the best out of you. I hope it does for us tomorrow.”
In what was the fourth and final game of the day in Orange City, the Bulldogs squandered a 2-0 lead and trailed 3-2 heading into the seventh. Senior second baseman Kylee Nixon sparked the ensuing rally with a leadoff double. Nixon came home to tie the game on Julia Van Wey’s RBI single. Concordia kept the line moving as Zoie Isom drove in a run with a sacrifice fly, Shottenkirk singled home another and Grace Boganowski added a sac fly. Camry Moore also collected a pair of RBIs in the win.
Edwards counted upon the sophomore lefty pitcher Rowe to complete the game and hang onto a 6-3 lead. That advantage became tenuous when CSM’s Emma Hofmaier and Macy Homes delivered an RBI double apiece to make it a one-run ballgame. With the potential tying run at second – and the potential walk-off run in the batter’s box – Rowe recorded a strikeout and a flyout to right to seal the deal. Rowe showed toughness while scattering 10 hits (no walks) in the seven-inning complete game.
As part of the victory, outfielder Caitlyn McGarvie remained white hot for Concordia. The Valparaiso, Neb., native went 3-for-3 with three runs, a triple and a walk against College of Saint Mary. A nine-game hitting streak for McGarvie has raised her season batting average all the way up to .400. Meanwhile, the freshman Shottenkirk put together one of her finer days yet as a Bulldog. She went 2-for-2 in the first game and 4-for-4 in the second game on Wednesday. The Flames ended their season at 14-28 overall.
Said Edwards of McGarvie, “She’s having really, really good swings and barreling up good pitches. She’s covering all parts of the plate – she’s hitting everything. She’s just doing a really good job with her approach. Watching her be this consistent for this long has been great. As far as Kylie Shottenkirk, she’s found her swing. She was struggling for a little while, but she’s a gamer. She wants the bat in her hand. Seeing her trust her swing again has been fun to watch.”
Northwestern (37-10-1) managed to put six runs on the board against Concordia ace Camry Moore. The Red Raiders ended the day’s first contest early thanks to Sydnee Isom’s two-run single in the bottom of the fifth. On the other side of the pitching matchup, Northwestern’s Kameryn Etherington threw a five-hit, five-inning shutout. Jordyn Kramer helped back Etherington with a two-run homer in the first.
The Red Raiders proceeded to fall by a 5-3 score in their matchup with third-seeded Mount Marty. That puts the Lancers in the driver’s seat in the Northwestern Bracket. Concordia and Northwestern now get set for a rematch at 12 p.m. CT on Thursday from the NWC Softball Diamond. It will be an elimination game for both sides.
In one previous instance in program history, the Bulldogs rebounded from a run-rule loss in the opening game of the GPAC tournament in the process of making a run to nationals. The 2014 team fell by the run rule to Midland before rattling off victories in five-straight elimination games. The ’14 squad finished as the GPAC tournament runner up. The current Concordia team must win three times on Thursday in order to reach the GPAC Championship Series.