Top-ranked Oklahoma City denies Concordia of first national tournament win

By Jacob Knabel on May. 12, 2015 in Softball

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – Making its second-straight appearance at the opening round of the national tournament, the Concordia University softball team fell victim to powerfully-built Oklahoma City University on Monday. The top-ranked Stars got a third-inning grand slam from Jocelin Diaz to power a 13-0, run-rule shortened win over the Bulldogs at Ann Lacy Stadium in Oklahoma City, Okla.

Concordia is now 0-for-3 in three tries at the opening round in its two appearances under head coach Todd Lavelle. The Bulldogs (28-22) will get another shot on Tuesday as part of the double-elimination tournament.

“We want to be the best of the best at some point,” LaVelle said. “We know we still have a ways to go and we know these are all stepping stones to get there. I’m not disappointed to the point where there’s no rebounding from this, but I don’t feel like all 12 girls that played tonight competed like they could have.”

Freshman Michaela Woodward made her eighth-straight start in the circle for Concordia and struggled to figure out the strike zone. She walked six and surrendered the back-breaking blast to Diaz. The Stars (53-4), who entered the tournament ranked second nationally with an average of 9.1 runs per game, backed up their No. 1 national ranking with 14 hits off Woodward.

For the first time since April 26, someone other than Woodward (19-12) appeared in the circle for Concordia. Freshman Jordana Goncalves relieved Woodward with a runner on second and two outs in the top of the fourth. Goncalves acquitted herself well, firing 1.1 scoreless innings while striking out two.

The Bulldogs had their best chance to score in the bottom of the third when they loaded the bases with back-to-back singles by Becca Walker and Diana Mendoza and then a walk by Julia Tyree to begin the frame. Oklahoma City starter Abby Meador buckled down and retired the next three hitters to keep the Bulldogs off the scoreboard.

Mendoza collected two of Concordia’s four hits on the evening. Owens and Walker notched a base hit apiece. On the other side, Diaz went 3-for-3 with six RBIs. McRae Cayton also went 3-for-3 while adding two runs and two RBIs for the victors. Meador threw three innings (six strikeouts) and earned the win.

Oklahoma City, champion of the Sooner Athletic Conference, has won eight national championships and finished national runner up five times under 29th-year head coach Phil McSpadden.

Concordia faces a win-or-go-home situation on Tuesday when it takes on Grand View University (Iowa) at 3 p.m. CT. The Vikings (33-12), winners of the Midwest Collegiate Conference, fell by an 8-5 score in nine innings to No. 17 Concordia-Oregon on Monday. In the winner’s bracket, Oklahoma City is set to play Concordia-Oregon at 12 p.m. on Tuesday.

“We don’t have much time to sit and dwell on it,” LaVelle said. “That’s what we talked about. We kept the postgame positive. We came down here and Concordia supported us with a lot of fans and financially. We want to do them proud. They need to dig a little deeper.”

Each of the 10 opening round site winners advance to the NAIA Softball World Series, held May 22-28 in Sioux City, Iowa.