Woodward stays hot in split at Wesleyan

By Jacob Knabel on Apr. 13, 2016 in Softball

LINCOLN, Neb. – After letting an extra-inning lead melt away in game 1, the Concordia University softball team salvaged yet another GPAC doubleheader split with both of Wednesday evening’s contests being decided by a margin of a single run. Host Nebraska Wesleyan won game 1, 4-3, in nine frames before the Bulldogs bounced back with a 5-4 victory in the capper.

Third-year head coach Todd LaVelle’s squad has played 13 one-run games already this season. Five of Concordia’s first 12 conference games have gone to extra innings. The Bulldogs are now 26-11 overall and 7-5 in GPAC action.

“It’s the same song, second verse,” LaVelle said. “We’re right there. Again we had the lead. In the first game I was definitely proud of the girls for battling and coming back and tying it up. This time we went nine innings. We got out of some jams and in the games you lose you have to look at the positives. We did what we do best and that’s regroup and battle in the second game.”

Wednesday marked the third time that Concordia has lost the opening contest of a conference twin bill and then won the second. In game 2, the Bulldogs built a 4-0 second-inning advantage behind Leah Kalkwarf’s RBI double, Kylie Harpst’s RBI single and Taylor Huff’s two-run base hit. Then in the sixth, Autumn Owens mashed her seventh homer of the season to make it a 5-2 lead.

With Kylie Harpst aiming for a complete game, the Bulldogs held on in the bottom of the seventh. With the potential tying run on third, Harpst coaxed Danelle Snyder into a fly out to right, inciting an exhale from LaVelle’s bunch.

“I’ve been around a lot of teams in my life that would have lost two,” LaVelle said. “We’ve come back and won a lot of second games. That shows their resilience. We came out and took a 4-0 lead. We never panicked.”

Each of Concordia’s last four losses have now been of the walk-off variety. The Bulldogs were seemingly on their way to a game 1 victory after back-to-back homers by Huff and Michaela Woodward staked them to a 3-1 lead in the top of the ninth. Heartache ensued as Madi Francis’ infield single off Harpst chased home the winning run in the bottom half.

Woodward tossed 8.1 innings in game 1 while allowing three runs on six hits and five walks. She struck out seven. In a winning effort, Harpst scattered 11 hits and a walk in a complete game performance in the circle.

The red-hot Woodward went 4-for-6 at the plate. Harpst was 3-for-8. The Bulldogs collected 14 total hits on the evening.

The Bulldogs will be back at Plum Creek Park on Saturday to host Dakota Wesleyan (27-17, 10-6 GPAC) for a 1 p.m. doubleheader. Concordia has lost only one of its six home contests thus far in 2016. Picked 11th in the preseason coaches’ poll, the Tigers currently sit in third place in the league standings.