SEWARD, Neb. – Freshman Michaela Woodward picked up the pitching victory and game 1 and collected her eighth and ninth multi-hit games of the season as the Concordia University softball team opened up the GPAC slate with Dordt on Saturday afternoon. Similar to their doubleheader three days earlier, the Bulldogs won the first contest, 8-5, before relinquishing the game 2 lead as part of a 9-7 defeat at Plum Creek Park.
Picked to finish second in the league standings, second-year head coach Todd LaVelle’s Bulldogs now sit at 9-10 overall and 1-1 in GPAC action.
“Whenever you’re at home in the GPAC, you want to get them both,” LaVelle said. “We have to tip our hats to Dordt. They came out and played us hard and never gave up. Both games we jumped out to big leads and they came back. We had some spectacular plays to shut that one down (in game 1).
“When we have the lead we have to extend it and play tougher.”
Woodward, who went a combined 5-for-7 in the twin bill to boost her team-leading batting average to .429, singled and scored during Concordia’s key five-run fourth in game 1. The big blow during the frame was delivered by second baseman Julia Tyree, who drilled a three-run homer (second of the season). Shortstop Becca Walker squeezed home a run and first baseman Molly Madsen plated another with a single.
Five different Bulldogs recorded two hits apiece in the victory over the Defenders (5-15, 1-1 GPAC): Regan Doiel (2-for-3, two runs, stolen base), MaKenna Tracy (2-for-3, two runs, stolen base), Shelby Schacher (2-for-3, RBI), Tyree (2-for-4, three RBIs, run) and Woodward (2-for-4, run). As a team, Concordia pounded out 13 hits in the conference-opening win.
Woodward (6-4) went all seven innings in the circle. She scattered 11 hits and a walk while striking out five. But her solid work as the team’s No. 1 pitcher has been overshadowed by her craftsmanship with the bat. The Norris High School product powdered two more doubles on Saturday to lift her season slugging percentage to .714.
“One thing that has always impressed me with Michaela is that she’s always ready to compete and be at her best,” LaVelle said. “Her body language is such a positive thing and she plays with so much confidence. Today I asked if she needed to come out and she told me, ‘Coach, no, I got this.’ She’s a freshman and when you hear that from your pitcher, you say ‘go get it.’”
Down 9-7 with two outs in the bottom of the seventh of game 2, Tyree lifted a fly ball of fair depth to left. Kassidy VanVoorst put the squeeze on the ball for the contest’s final out to complete Dordt’s rally back from four runs down.
For the second time in three games, Concordia failed to hold a four-run lead. Third baseman Erica White knocked home two of her three RBIs to help fuel a five-run fourth-inning for the Defenders, who grabbed a two-run advantage.
Dordt’s explosion immediately followed a six-run bottom of the third that had seemingly put the Bulldogs in control. Right fielder MaKenna Tracy, who equaled Woodward’s 5-for-7 day, belted a two-run homer (second of the season) to highlight the frame. Madsen drove in a run with a single and Schacher delivered a sacrifice fly and two more runs came around on Doiel’s base hit to left that got past the outfielder and rolled all the way to the fence.
Tyree was tagged with the loss after relieving freshman pitcher Jordana Goncalves. They surrendered a combined 12 hits and five walks.
The Bulldogs continue conference action on Tuesday when they play at rival Doane (16-6, 2-0 GPAC). First pitch is set for 3 p.m. from Crete. The Tigers received votes in this week’s NAIA national coaches’ poll.