OMAHA, Neb. – Timely hitting and strong pitching helped carry the Concordia University Softball team to a game two victory at College of Saint Mary in the doubleheader played in Omaha on Tuesday (April 25). One rough inning prevented the Bulldogs from having any chance in game one. The Flames won by the run rule, 10-2, in five innings before Concordia responded with a 4-2 win. Sophomore Hanna Bowers delivered a two-run double that proved to be the game-winning hit in game two.
Head Coach Brock Culler’s squad is in the midst of its final week of the 2023 season. The Bulldogs (15-28, 4-16 GPAC) are aiming to finish strong while also building momentum for next year.
“Defensively we played really well and Jerzi (Rowe) threw really well,” Culler said of the game two win. “Then we put Jessie (Bestenlehner) in she closed that thing out for us. The middle infield double play we turned in the seventh was just huge – and Hanna Bowers just keeps swinging it for us.”
Following the run rule in game one, the second contest started inauspiciously when CSM put two runs on the board in the bottom of the first. However, the pitching and defense of the Bulldogs ruled the final six innings as Rowe and Bestenlehner combined to stamp out the Flames. Offensively, Bowers drove in each of the team’s first three runs, the first of which came on a sacrifice fly in the third. Then in the fifth, Bowers chased Deleesi Bartling and Delanie Voshell home with a two-bagger. An insurance run came in the top of the seventh when Aubrey Bruning singled in Emma Kirby.
The Gretna, Neb., native Rowe fired scoreless second, third and fourth innings while earning the 20th pitching victory of her career. When Rowe ran into trouble in the fifth, Culler turned to the freshman Bestenlehner, who went three innings to pick up the save. Bestenlehner entered the game with two on and no out in the fifth and proceeded to induce a strikeout, a pop out and a strikeout. The Millard South High School product also coaxed a critical 6-4-3 double play in the seventh to squelch a potential threat. The Bulldog defense played error free over the final six innings.
The win helped lessen the sting from game one. As Culler mentioned, ace pitcher Megan Eurich was hitting her spots. The Flames simply caught fire in the third inning when they plated nine runs on eight hits. CSM (6-33, 3-17 GPAC) later ended the game by the run rule with a fifth-inning homer from Daisy Lowther. Aubrey Bruning led Concordia in game one by going 2-for-3 with a stolen base and a run. Meanwhile, Caitlyn McGarvie walked twice and stole a base.
By day’s end, Bowers’ season batting average stood at .362. She’s been a consistent force at the top of the lineup and has a bright future ahead as just a sophomore out of Surprise, Ariz.
Said Culler of Bowers, “Her approach to everything is so business-like. When she gets to the plate, she knows exactly what pitch she wants. When she gets it, that’s what she goes after. She’s just swinging it so well.”
The Bulldogs will wrap up the 2023 regular season on Saturday with a trip to Sioux Center, Iowa. The doubleheader with Dordt (32-10, 13-5 GPAC) is slated to get underway at 1 p.m. CT from the Open Space Softball Complex. The two sides split a twin bill last season in Seward.