Win streak extends to six with sweep at Briar Cliff

By Jacob Knabel on Mar. 26, 2017 in Softball

SIOUX CITY, Iowa – The Concordia University softball team completed a stellar week by sweeping a GPAC road doubleheader from Briar Cliff on Sunday. The Bulldogs jumped out to 6-0 leads in both ends of the twin bill and won by final scores of 12-5 and 9-5 in contests played in Sioux City, Iowa.

Fourth-year head coach Todd LaVelle’s squad went 6-0 over the past week, also taking two from Doane and Nebraska Wesleyan. Concordia has improved to 19-7 overall and to 4-2 in conference play.

The bats have come alive for the Bulldogs. During their win streak, they have averaged 8.3 runs per game. Concordia scorched Charger pitching for a combined 25 hits on Sunday. Freshman Ronee Watson drove in seven runs while going 4-for-6 with a double. In game 1, junior catcher Autumn Owens went 3-for-5 with four RBIs.

“I was proud of the girls. They played well,” LaVelle said. “They came mentally focused to play today. It was great that we started out well in both games. That’s what makes us pretty tough right now. We’re hitting extremely well. When you’re doing things like that, you can relax a little bit and just focus on making the routine plays on defense. It’s exciting to see us have that success in our first road test in the conference.”

Out of the No. 2 spot in the lineup, center fielder Megan Ruppert enjoyed a five-hit day. The Bulldogs collected 16 hits in game 1 behind multiple hit efforts from six different players: Ruppert (3-for-4), Owens (3-for-5), Janey Pasold (2-for-3), Watson (2-for-3), Leah Kalkwarf (2-for-4) and Michaela Woodward (2-for-4). Kylie Harpst registered one hit in both games and extended her hitting streak to six.

Big offensive innings were a theme on Sunday. In the opener, the Bulldogs tallied four runs in the first inning and then three more in both the fourth and fifth frames. In game 2, Concordia put forth three-run innings in the first, second and seventh. Jamie Lefebure supplied plenty of breathing room by blasting a two-run double in the top of the seventh of the capper.

In the circle, the Bulldogs got a complete game apiece from Woodward and Harpst. Woodward scattered 10 hits while allowing five runs (four earned). She struck out four batters and picked up her eighth win of 2017. Harpst is now 6-1 after her fifth complete game of the season. She worked around eight hits and surrendered only three earned runs.

Danielle Ishii put together a 4-for-7 day for Briar Cliff (7-16, 1-3 GPAC), which played at home for the first time in 2017. The Chargers split their conference opening doubleheader at Hastings on March 18.

It’s been quite a week for Concordia, now receiving votes in the national poll. The Bulldogs have responded impressively after losing twice to Northwestern on March 18.

“We’d like to have Northwestern back, but it was a wakeup call and it made us focus in and be a little more mentally tough,” LaVelle said. “We’re playing well in all aspects of the game. We’re being patient at the plate. We’re hitting strikes and we’re hitting them hard. In my four years at Concordia, I’ve not had a team hit this well. We know there’s work to be done. The girls are excited, but they know they can even play better.”

Another road GPAC doubleheader looms for the Bulldogs, who will be at Hastings (15-15, 2-2 GPAC) on Wednesday. First pitch is set for 5 p.m. CT. The Broncos earned a split at 10th-ranked Morningside on Sunday. Hastings took game 2, 3-2, in 10 innings.