2015 - Softball Schedule/Results

29-23 overall, 10-10 GPAC - Season Stats


  March 3 Kansas Wesleyan University (2) Salina, Kan. L, 0-15 (5 inn.)
L, 0-8 (6 inn.)
Spring Break Trip: March 8-13 (All times are Mountain)
  March 8 Great Falls UniversityAudio-Webcast.png Tucson, Ariz. W, 8-3
  March 8 Bemidji State University (Minn.)Audio-Webcast.png Tucson, Ariz. W, 13-8
  March 9 University of Saint Francis (Ill.)Audio-Webcast.png Tucson, Ariz. W, 10-4
  March 9 Olivet Nazarene University (Ill.) Audio-Webcast.png Tucson, Ariz. L, 6-7
  March 9 Ashford University (Iowa) Audio-Webcast.png Tucson, Ariz. L, 6-17 (5 inn.)
  March 10 University of Jamestown (N.D.) Audio-Webcast.png Tucson, Ariz. L, 2-6
  March 10 Aquinas College (Mich.) Audio-Webcast.png Tucson, Ariz. L, 6-8
  March 10 Baldwin Wallace University (Ohio) Audio-Webcast.png Tucson, Ariz. W, 9-8 (8 inn.)
  March 11 College of Saint Mary Audio-Webcast.png Tucson, Ariz. W, 10-3
  March 11 Valley City State University (N.D.) Audio-Webcast.png Tucson, Ariz. W, 2-1
  March 11 Robert Morris University (Ill.) Audio-Webcast.png Tucson, Ariz. W, 9-1 (6 inn.)
  March 12 Arizona Christian University (2) Audio-Webcast.png Scottsdale, Ariz. L, 2-11 (5 inn.)
L, 3-5 
  March 18 Peru State College (2) Audio-Webcast.png Seward, Neb. W, 8-5
L, 6-9
  March 21 Dordt College* (2) Audio-Webcast.png Seward, Neb. W, 8-5
L, 7-9
  March 28 Northwestern College* (2) Concordia webcast scheduled Seward, Neb. W, 5-1
W, 6-5
  March 30 Briar Cliff University* (2) Concordia webcast scheduled Seward, Neb. W, 7-2
W, 9-8
  March 31 Presentation College (2) Concordia webcast scheduled Seward, Neb. W, 12-7
L, 5-7


  April 3 Doane College* (2) Concordia webcast scheduled Crete, Neb. L, 1-8
L, 0-2 
  April 6 York College (2) Concordia webcast scheduled Seward, Neb. W, 6-3
W, 8-6
  April 7 Hastings College* (2) Concordia webcast scheduled Hastings, Neb. L, 5-8
W, 4-3
  April 8 Bellevue University (2) Concordia webcast scheduled Seward, Neb. CANCELED
  April 14 Central Christian College (2) Concordia webcast scheduled Seward, Neb. W, 6-3
W, 12-0 (5 inn.)
  April 15 Nebraska Wesleyan University* (2) Concordia webcast scheduled Seward, Neb. L, 4-5
L, 2-11 (5 inn.)
  April 21 Midland University* (2) Concordia webcast scheduled Fremont, Neb. L, 9-10 (8 inn.)
L, 0-7
  April 22 Mount Marty College* (2) Concordia webcast scheduled Seward, Neb. W, 8-2
W, 7-2
  April 25 Dakota Wesleyan University* (2) Mitchell, S.D. L, 2-8
W, 16-6 (5 inn.)
  April 26 Morningside College* (2) Sioux City, Iowa L, 2-10 (6 inn.)
W, 2-0


GPAC Tournament: April 29-30, May 2
  April 29 Midland University Fremont, Neb. W, 8-4
  April 29 Nebraska Wesleyan University Fremont, Neb. W, 6-1
  April 30 Midland University Fremont, Neb. L, 5-6
  April 30 Midland University (Elimination Game) Fremont, Neb. W, 8-0 (5 inn.)
  May 2 Morningside College (Game 1) Sioux City, Iowa W, 7-3
  May 2 Morningside College (Game 2) Sioux City, Iowa W, 6-5
    Concordia wins GPAC Championship Series, 2-0    
NAIA Championships: Opening Round: May 11-13; World Series: May 22-28
  May 11 (1) Oklahoma City University Oklahoma City, Okla. L, 0-13 (5 inn.)
  May 12 Grand View University (Iowa) Oklahoma City, Okla. W, 6-4
  May 12 (1) Oklahoma City University Oklahoma City, Okla. L, 2-9

*Indicates Great Plains Athletic Conference Games

%Indicates Great Plains Athletic Conference Tournament Games

 All Home Games in BOLD

2015 Bulldog Softball Roster








Previous School

Taylor Flodman

R/R IF 5-3 Jr. Eagle, Neb. Colorado at Colo. Springs

Rebecca Schiffer

R/R OF 5-2 So. Scottsdale, Ariz. Notre Dame Prep

Elizabeth Plasek

R/R OF 5-4 Fr. Bee, Neb. Aquinas Catholic

Claire Hoy

R/R IF 5-2 Jr. Fort Collins, Colo. Rocky Mountain


Justine Hansen





Tekamah, Neb.



Regan Doiel





Millard, Neb.

Millard West

Lexye Bruegman

R/R P/1B 5-11 So. Lincoln, Neb. Lincoln North Star


Danielle Harstad





Lewiston, Minn.


Naomi Greder

R/R P/OF 5-8 Sr. Sloan, Iowa Westwood Community


Julia Tyree





Benicia, Calif.


Jordana Goncalves

L/R P 5-8 Fr. British Columbia, Canada Yale

Rebecca Walker

R/R 1B/3B 5-5 Sr. Brush, Colo. Brush

Palmer Bosanko

R/R OF/SS 5-4 So. Henderson, Nev. Foothill


Shelby Schacher 





Grand Island, Neb.

Grand Island Northwest


Michaela Woodward





Cortland, Neb.


MaKenna Tracy

L/L OF 5-5 So. Hickman, Neb. Peru State

Courtnay Serve

L/R MI 5-2 So. Reno, Nev. North Valleys


Alex Kentner





Doniphan, Neb.



Amanda Snider

R/R 1B/OF 5-8 Jr.

Republic, Mo.


Kerrigan Anspauch

L/R OF 5-3 Fr. Grand Island, Neb. Central Catholic

Diana Mendoza

L/R OF 5-2 So. Santa Clarita, Calif. Saugus

Bri Liebelt

L/R MI 5-5 Jr. Parker, Colo. Lamar CC


Molly Madsen





Thornton, Colo.

Legacy High


Jen Schenaman





Lincoln, Neb.

Lincoln North Star

Autumn Owens

R/R IF 5-6 Fr. Henderson, Nev. Green Valley


Liz Maxwell





Fullerton, Calif.

Orange Lutheran


Clarissa Beving





Hartley, Iowa


Katie Rosenbaum

R/R OF 5-6 Fr. Lincoln, Neb.

Lincoln North Star 


Kylie Harpst

R/R P 5-5 Jr. Lincoln, Neb. Pittsburg State

Season preview: 2015 Concordia softball

At a glance
2014 Record: 32-16 overall; 12-8 GPAC (T-3rd)
Head Coach: Todd LaVelle (32-16, 2nd year)
Key Returners: INF/OF Palmer Bosanko, OF Regan Doiel, 1B Molly Madsen, OF Diana Mendoza, UTIL/P Julia Tyree, 3B Rebecca Walker
Key Losses: P Amanda Beeson, OF Brittany Hudler, INF Shelby Morose, C Amber Topil
Key Newcomers: P Jordana Goncalves, C Shelby Schacher, P Michaela Woodward
2014 GPAC All-Conference: Amanda Beeson (second team), Molly Madsen (second team), Amber Topil (honorable mention)

By Jake Knabel, Director of Athletic Communications

The Concordia University softball team eyes even greater heights in 2015 following a 2014 campaign in which it made a thrilling run to the GPAC tournament championship game to clinch the program’s first-ever national tournament berth. A season that surprised many brought 32 wins and enhanced expectations entering year two under head coach Todd LaVelle. Last season the Bulldogs were slotted seventh in the GPAC preseason coaches’ poll. This offseason they received the most first-place votes and were picked second.

LaVelle and company believe the 2015 roster is stocked with greater overall talent. A strong returning nucleus is expected to be joined by a group of eight newcomers on the varsity roster. The right people are in place for another run at the top of the league standings.

“Since day one when I came in here my expectations have been high,” LaVelle said. “I don’t coach to get second place or third. Last year we wanted the first-place trophy and we were probably one run away. This year is no different. Our goal is to win the conference. Our goal is to get 40 wins. Our goal is to make it to the national tournament. With that being said, we’re not going to surprise anyone this year and we know that."

While four-year stalwarts such as ace pitcher Amanda Beeson and starting catcher Amber Topil have graduated, a large portion of last season’s starting lineup returns. LaVelle has a pair of senior captains back at the corner infield spots in two-time second team all-conference choice Molly Madsen at first base and third baseman Becca Walker, who batted .313 in her first season as a Bulldog.

When she’s not pitching, junior captain Julia Tyree will also see time in the infield as potentially the team’s primary second baseman. The three captains were all key components of the late-season run in 2014 and carry a quiet confidence into the new year.

“We’re very confident,” Madsen said. “Even though we lost some key players last year, I feel like we gained a bunch of good players with the freshman class and some of the transfers we had come in. Even though we have some leadership voids without Amanda (Beeson) and Amber (Topil), we have other people who can step up and realize it’s their turn to take on that responsibility. I think we’ve done a good job establishing those roles. Everyone’s going to come together.”

The shortstop spot will be filled most frequently by Palmer Bosanko, who put together a solid freshman season while splitting time between right field and short. Bosanko took over as Concordia’s main shortstop over the final 11 games and looked like a natural fit.

LaVelle also has more than enough options for his three outfield spots. Athletic and rangy standouts in senior center fielder Regan Doiel and sophomore left fielder Diana Mendoza provide plenty of speed. Both hit above .300 last season while combining for 25 stolen bases.

“I would put Regan and Diana up against anyone in the conference,” LaVelle said. “They’re excellent outfielders. As a matter of fact, Diana was recruited as a catcher. She would be a great catcher, but I just can’t afford to take her out of the outfield. Regan has held down the center field spot for several years at Concordia and done an excellent job.”

That leaves an opening in right field where Bulldog fans should expect to see newcomers such as British Columbia native Jordana Goncalves and Peru State College transfer MaKenna Tracy. LaVelle likes the bat of Goncalves, who will also get opportunities in the circle. Meanwhile, Tracy already possesses experience at the NAIA level after hitting .393 with four home runs in 28 games last season as a Bobcat.

The competition to replace Topil at catcher includes freshman Shelby Schacher, the Nebraska high school Class B record holder for career RBIs, as well as another rookie and two seniors in Clarissa Beving and Liz Maxwell. Says LaVelle of Schacher, “She does a good job behind the plate and she has a really good bat. We’re excited about her.”

The expectation LaVelle has for his group of position players is to score more. Last season Concordia ranked third among GPAC teams in runs per game (5.40), but the Bulldog skipper has reason to believe the 2015 squad will be even more prolific.

“Our offensive production’s got to be better,” LaVelle said. “We’d like to be around .330 (batting average) and be a scoring threat up and down the lineup. In the offseason we looked at some of our weaknesses and that was one of them. We did go out and hire who I feel is one of the best hitting instructors in the state of Nebraska – Coach Doug Dawson. He’s done an excellent job in the offseason preparing the girls with their hitting. I think you will see the production of our offense taken up a notch or two.”

An expected increase in run scoring will help a youthful pitching staff that will attempt to make up for the loss of Beeson. Norris High School first team all-state hurler Michaela Woodward has the potential to take over the role of ace pitcher. Woodward impressed LaVelle during the fall exhibition season and appears to have the ability to shoulder a heavy load in her first collegiate season.

Tyree represents the most experienced option in the circle. She’s thrown more than 200 innings over her first two collegiate seasons. Last year the native of Benicia, Calif., went 10-3 with a 4.00 ERA. Competition will also come from Goncalves and returnee Lexye Bruegman, who worked 32 innings as a freshman.

Madsen says newcomers such as Goncalves, Schacher and Woodward have made seamless transitions. A strong unit last season from a chemistry standpoint, Concordia hopes to foster the same winning culture in 2015.

“The way they were able to come in and get along with the chemistry we already had on the team, it kind of felt like we had already been playing with each other for a while,” Madsen said. “They are very mature and are able to step up and bring what we need to the table.”

While this year’s team has a larger target on its back to open the campaign, the 2015 Bulldogs feel more comfortable and prepared in year two under LaVelle. That added bonus will serve as a key factor for a Concordia team that will try to live up to enhanced preseason hype.

“Last year we were kind of flying by the seat of our pants,” LaVelle said. “Everything was new. I had never been in the college ranks before and never been to the different venues. I didn’t know how it all worked. It’s definitely a more relaxed environment now. I feel like we’re way ahead in practice right now than we were a year ago.”

The Bulldogs are scheduled to open the 2015 season on Tuesday, March 3 when they travel to play a doubleheader at Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kan. First pitch is slated for 3 p.m.

Softball opens 2015 with pair of losses at defending KCAC champ Kansas Wesleyan

SALINA, Kan. – Following a thrilling run to the 2014 national tournament, the Concordia University softball team returned to the diamond for opening day of the 2015 season. In a doubleheader played in Salina, Kan., host Kansas Wesleyan University dominated with wins by scores of 15-0 and 8-0 on Tuesday afternoon.

Head coach Todd LaVelle’s squad, which went 32-16 with a GPAC tournament runner-up finish last season, mustered only four combined hits while being shut out by Coyote pitchers Courtney Williams and McKenzie Draper.

On the other hand, defending Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference champion Kansas Wesleyan (10-2) churned out 21 hits on the day. The Coyotes tagged Concordia hurler Michaela Woodward, who made her collegiate debut, for eight earned runs on 11 hits in 2.1 innings. Four different Coyotes collected two hits apiece in game 1, which featured five RBIs from Stephanie Patterson.

Freshman catcher Shelby Schacher emerged as one of the bright spots for the Bulldogs. The Grand Island native went 3-for-4 with a walk on the afternoon. Senior first baseman Molly Madsen had the team’s only other hit against a Kansas Wesleyan team that went 38-9 overall in 2014.

Woodward came back to throw game 2. The Norris High School product gave up eight runs (all earned) over 5.1 innings of work in the capper, which finished in six innings with the inaction of the eight-run rule. Woodward was one of six players to appear as Bulldogs for the first time on Tuesday.

The Bulldogs now look forward to their spring break trip to Tucson, Ariz., where they play 13 games over a five-day stretch from March 8-12. That slate begins with Great Falls University and Bemidji State University on Sunday. Mike Meyer will provide audio play-by-play for each game during The Grand Canyon State swing. Click HERE at game time to access the webcast audio broadcasts.

Walker, Woodward lead pair of wins to open Tucson trip

TUCSON, Ariz. – A hectic 13-games-in-five-days stretch began on Sunday for the Concordia University softball team. The Bulldogs kicked off their Arizona road trip with wins by scores of 8-3 over Great Falls University (Mont.) and 13-8 over NCAA Division II Bemidji State University.

Second-year head coach Todd LaVelle’s squad evened up its overall record at 2-2 on the young season.

Freshmen played a big role in the win over Great Falls (14-8). Rookie Michaela Woodward, who tripled in both games, earned her first career victory in the circle. She went a combined 5-for-7 at the plate and also closed out the second game in relief. Fellow freshman Autumn Owens nailed her first career home run versus Great Falls and additional first-year Bulldogs in Jordana Goncalves (3-for-5 in game 2) and catcher Shelby Schacher also pitched in.

Senior Becca Walker, who has already moved around between shortstop and third base, went 4-for-4 as part of a 19-hit Bulldog attack unleashed upon the Beavers. Walker matched Woodward with a 5-for-7 performance on the day.

It was the type of offensive outburst LaVelle expects from a team that entered 2015 with lofty expectations.

“That’s what we know we can do,” LaVelle said. “We some youngsters step up today and we have several veterans who can do better than what they did today. If we’re clicking one through nine we will have a pretty potent lineup.”

In the day’s second contest, Concordia rallied all the way back from an 8-3 deficit. The Beavers (3-4) piled on seven runs on only two hits in the bottom of the second inning to build the five-run advantage. Concordia eventually regained the lead in the top of the seventh with a five-run frame that gave the Bulldogs 10 unanswered tallies. Both Molly Madsen and Julia Tyree had run-scoring singles in the inning.

Defensively, Concordia improved immensely compared to its season-opening doubleheader when it was swept at Kansas Wesleyan University on March 3. LaVelle praised sophomore Courtnay Serve, who turned in two diving catches, for her work at second base. Serve spelled Tyree, who was scratched from the lineup after a grounder in warm ups hit her in the mouth and cause her to need stitches.

Concordia’s deep and talented roster did not blink after losing Tyree for one game – or after its humbling twin bill at Kansas Wesleyan.

“We talked about it a little bit in practice,” LaVelle said. “We had to let that one go and chalk it up as a learning experience. We knew we were a better team than what we showed. Our girls are confident. We really didn’t dwell on it. Our expectations are high.

“As happy as I am about today, we need to improve. We can be better on the base paths and clean some things up defensively. We’ll learn a lot about our team over the next four-five days.”

LaVelle opened his first season as head coach with nine-consecutive wins in Tucson. The 9-0 start for the 2014 team set a school record for the longest unbeaten run to begin a season.

The Bulldogs continue play from Tucson on Monday with a trio of games:
11 a.m. MST / 1 p.m. CDT vs. University of Saint Francis (Ill.)
1:30 p.m. MST / 3:30 p.m. CDT vs. No. 13 Olivet Nazarene University (Ill.)
6 p.m. MST / 8 p.m. CDT vs. Ashford University (Iowa)

All 13 games of Concordia’s Arizona trip can be heard live via Stretch Internet. Mike Meyer provides the play-by-play.

‘Dogs go 1-2 on day 2 of Arizona trip

TUCSON, Ariz. – A lengthy winning streak in the city of Tucson came to an end on Monday for the Concordia University softball team. The Bulldogs roared back for a 10-4 win over the University of St. Francis (Ill.) in a late-morning affair. Concordia then fell by scores of 7-6 to No. 13 Olivet Nazarene University (Ill.) and 16-6 to Ashford University (Iowa).

Second-year head coach Todd LaVelle’s squad is 3-2 on the current road trip and 3-4 overall.

Down 2-1 in the top of the seventh in Monday’s opening contest, the Bulldogs erupted for nine runs to turn a tight game into a comfortable lead. Concordia loaded the bases after three-straight one-out singles by Molly Madsen, Shelby Schacher and Becca Walker. Concordia tied then tied the game on Palmer Bosanko’s sacrifice squeeze bunt in which the Cougars failed to record an out on.

As part of the seventh-inning outburst, starting pitcher/second baseman Julia Tyree added a two-run single and designated player/relief pitcher Michaela Woodward struck for her first career homer – a two-run shot to left. Walker, who scored a run in the frame, recorded two of the team’s six hits in the victory.

“In the first game we played really well overall,” LaVelle said. “We came back and hit the ball fairly well. We battled and got a bunch of runs and put the pressure on them. When we went up two it kind of broke their back. Then we exploded for more.”

Saint Francis freshman pitcher Morghan Dieringer had been working on a gem until running into trouble in the seventh inning. She ended up being tagged seven runs (five earned) and the loss. On the other end, Woodward picked up a win for the third-straight game by tossing 2.1 innings in relief of Tyree.

In rematch of last year’s meeting in Tucson (a 5-1 Concordia win over then No. 10 Olivet Nazarene), the Tigers held on for a 7-6 win over the Bulldogs. LaVelle’s squad made a late push by putting up two runs in the sixth and one in the seventh.

“We were up for that one emotionally against a highly-ranked team,” LaVelle said. “We jumped out to a 3-0 lead and it could have easily been 4-0 or 5-0. We missed the location on a pitch and they hit a two-run homer that got them going. Our kids kept battling. We had our chances at the end. Overall I was pleased with the first two games.”

The loss to Olivet Nazarene snapped a 15-game Concordia win streak in contests played in the city of Tucson. That stretch dated back to 2011. Last season LaVelle’s bunch opened 2014 by winning all nine games in Tucson.

Ashford sent Concordia to a second-straight defeat in Monday night’s clash. The Eagles took advantage of sloppy Bulldog defense and won by the run rule after five innings. Concordia cut an eight-run deficit to four, but never got any closer.

The Bulldogs turn around quickly on Tuesday as they begin action at 9 a.m. local time in Tucson. Concordia’s stretch of 13 games in five days continues with contests on Tuesday:
9 a.m. MST / 11 a.m. CDT vs. University of Jamestown (N.D.)
11 a.m. MST / 1 p.m. CDT vs. Aquinas College (Mich.)
3:30 p.m. MST / 5:30 p.m. CDT vs. Baldwin Wallace University (Ohio)

Live audio from each of the team's 13 games in Arizona can be heard via the Concordia Sports Network.

Big guns continue hot hitting in Tucson tripleheader

TUCSON, Ariz. – An extra-inning win over Baldwin Wallace University salvaged a 1-2 day as a hectic stretch in Tucson, Ariz., continued on Tuesday for the Concordia University softball team. Concordia freshman Michaela Woodward kept up her torrid hitting on the road trip to highlight day three of five under the Arizona sun.

Second-year head coach Todd LaVelle’s squad moved to 4-4 on the road trip and 4-6 overall. The afternoon victory over Baldwin Wallace, a 9-8 eight-inning contest, snapped a four-game skid. Losses on Tuesday came at the hands of the University of Jamestown (N.D.), 6-2, and Aquinas College (Mich.), 7-6.

“We’re getting a lot of people experience and at bats right now,” LaVelle said. “Even though we’re not winning as much as we’d like, a lot of players are getting valuable time. That’s only going to help us when we get back to Nebraska and get ready for conference games.”

The Bulldogs, who have seen three of their last five games decided by a single run, ended the day on a positive note when sophomore left fielder Diana Mendoza surfaced in the clutch with a one-out walk-off single with the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth, sending Baldwin Wallace (2-4) to defeat.

As part of collegiate softball rules, freshman Shelby Schacher was placed on second to begin the bottom of the eighth. A sacrifice bunt by Becca Walker was sandwiched in between intentional walks to Woodward and Molly Madsen. That set the stage for Mendoza’s heroics.

The walk-off win provided relief for a Bulldog team that had relinquished a 6-1 lead and fell behind 8-7 in the top of the sixth. The trio of Madsen (3-for-4, two doubles, run, RBI), Woodward (2-for-4, two RBIs, run) and Julia Tyree (2-for-3, double, RBI, run) were instrumental in building the lead.

Tyree also came to the rescue as a pitcher. She started in the circle and then returned to the rubber after Lexye Bruegman and Woodward struggled. Tyree earned the win by going 5.1 innings in which she allowed just a single run on four hits.

Concordia had its chances to win the second game of the day, jumping out to a 3-0 lead over Aquinas when Woodward delivered an RBI double in the top of the first. Becca Walker added a run-scoring single as part of the three-run frame.

Several hitters such as Madsen, Tyree, Walker and Woodward have thrived in the hot Arizona weather.

“They’re swinging it with a lot of confidence right now,” LaVelle said. “What we need to do is shore up our defense. We had several errors and walks today. Those things are fixable. We’re still trying some things. I think we’re really close. We’re definitely not pushing the panic button.”

In Tuesday’s opening contest, the Jimmies (5-6) led the entire way after striking for three runs in the top of the first. The Bulldogs got as close as 3-2 before Jamestown added a pair of runs in the fourth. In the defeat, Tyree (2-for-4) and Woodward (2-for-3, two RBIs) collected two hits apiece. The rest of the Concordia bats were stifled by Jimmie pitcher Brittany Rheault, who fired all seven frames.

Wednesday will mark the third-straight tripleheader of games for the Bulldogs. The Wednesday slate includes:
9 a.m. MST / 11 a.m. CDT – College of Saint Mary
11 a.m. MST / 1 p.m. CDT – Valley City State University (N.D.)
3:30 p.m. MST / 5:30 p.m. CDT – Robert Morris University (Ill.)

Live audio from each of the team's 13 games in Arizona can be heard via the Concordia Sports Network.

LaVelle says the team chatted for a long time after the day’s second loss. The Bulldog skipper placed an emphasis on getting back to having fun. That approach will carry the team into Wednesday’s action.

Bulldog hurlers silence opposing bats in 3-0 day

TUCSON, Ariz. – Complete games from each of its three starting pitchers fueled a trio of victories for the Concordia University softball team in The Grand Canyon State on Wednesday. The Bulldogs allowed a combined five runs in earning wins over College of Saint Mary, 10-3, Valley City State University (N.D), 2-1, and Robert Morris University (Ill.), 9-1 (six innings).

Second-year head coach Todd LaVelle’s squad has now won four-consecutive games. Concordia owns a mark of 7-4 on the current 13-game road trip and sits at 7-6 overall.

“We needed it. We played loose and had fun today,” LaVelle said. “We came into the day with the strategy of giving each pitcher their own game and I think that helped them relax.

The Bulldogs returned to their winning ways on the strength of their pitching staff. The triplet of Jordana Goncalves, Julia Tyree and Michaela Woodward combined for 20 innings of work and a total of just 12 hits allowed.

In the day’s opening contest, the Bulldogs faced a 2-1 deficit entering the fifth inning against in-state College of Saint Mary. That’s when the offense caught fire in striking for four runs in the fifth, three in the sixth and another two in the seventh to open up a 10-2 lead. The offensive attack was led by the likes of Diana Mendoza (three hits) and Tyree, who blasted her first home run of the season as part of the three-run sixth.

The 10 runs were plenty of support for British Columbia native Goncalves, who went the distance in a seven-inning complete game. She piled up 10 strikeouts while scattering six walks and four hits.

In its second game of the day, Concordia made a pair of third-inning runs stand up thanks to the work of Tyree in the circle. The native of Benicia, Calif., tossed a complete game of her own. She limited the Vikings to just four hits. She struck out only two, meaning the defense behind her had to convert 19 batted balls into outs.

The Bulldogs got their runs on a Becca Walker sacrifice fly that scored Regan Doiel and a Woodward RBI double. Five hits proved to be enough for Concordia.

In the third game, the Bulldog bats came alive once again. Freshman Autumn Owens drilled her second home run (three-run blast) of the trip and also doubled and scored in the second inning. Concordia enacted the eight-run rule in the sixth inning with a pair of runs. The ninth run came on Owens’ grounder that eluded the shortstop.

Woodward picked up the win over Robert Morris with a six-inning complete game. She also collected two run-scoring singles in continuing her red-hot work at the dish. Woodward is one of several freshmen who have seen extensive action in Arizona.

“We’ve started four and sometimes five freshmen,” LaVelle said. “We knew it would take some time for them to get comfortable. Their stats speak for themselves. They’re playing well and I’m excited to see what they can do as the season moves on.”

The Bulldogs will close their 13-game Arizona road trip on Thursday with a doubleheader at Arizona Christian University in Scottsdale. First pitch is slated for 3 p.m. MST / 5 p.m. CDT. The team will then enjoy a spring training Major League Baseball game on Friday before flying out of Arizona on Saturday.

Live audio of Thursday’s doubleheader will be provided by the Concordia Sports Network with Mike Meyer calling the action.

LaVelle hopes Wednesday’s momentum carries into Thursday.

“Obviously I’m proud of them,” LaVelle said. “The trip didn’t start out the way we wanted it to but we bounced back today and got it done. I think we’re starting to come together.”

Schacher, Tracy go deep on final day of Arizona trip

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – A grueling 13-games-in-five-days stretch came to an end on Thursday for the Concordia University softball team. The Bulldogs migrated from Tucson to Scottsdale and dropped a pair of games that took place on the home diamond of Arizona Christian University. The Firestorm won by scores of 11-2 (five innings) and 5-3.

Second-year head coach Todd LaVelle’s club finished with a record of 7-6 on its 13-game spring break trip. Concordia sits at 7-8 overall.

“We played a lot of games and saw a lot of things,” LaVelle said. “Even though we’re pretty tired and beat up right now, I think it was a positive trip. We’re excited to get back home and see what we can do. I’m happy with what took place here. We got a lot of valuable experience. Like I told our team, you don’t win a conference title in Arizona. We made steps towards getting better.”

Concordia owned a 2-1 lead in game 2 until a nightmare of a bottom of the fifth saw the Firestorm throw four runs on the board. Starting pitcher Michaela Woodward had set down eight hitters in a row until issuing a walk with one out in the fifth. The free pass put a big inning in motion for Arizona Christian, which greeted reliever Julia Tyree with three-consecutive hits. Tyree was tagged with the loss.

Center fielder Regan Doiel went 2-for-3 with a run out of the No. 9 spot in game 2. Right fielder MaKenna Tracy, a transfer from Peru State College, drilled a game-tying homer in the top of the second. The Bulldogs then took a brief lead in the top of the fifth on Woodward’s sacrifice fly.

The biggest highlight of game 1 from a Concordia perspective came courtesy of freshman Shelby Schacher, who got her team on the board with the first home run of her career. The Bulldogs’ other run came on Becca Walker’s RBI triple that scored Tyree.

The Concordia offensive attack was limited to a total of nine hits on the day. Arizona Christian’s Jasmine Aguilar threw a five-inning complete game in the opening contest. She allowed two runs on three hits.

Woodward finished with a pitching line of 4.2 innings, four hits, two runs (both earned), two walks and six strikeouts. Fellow freshman Jordana Goncalves covered all 4.2 innings of game 1 in the circle before the eight-run rule went into effect.

The Bulldogs will fly back to Nebraska on Saturday and then prepare for a busy stretch of home games. Their home opener is scheduled for Wednesday, March 18 when Peru State College visits Plum Creek Park for a 5 p.m. doubleheader. Concordia is slated for six home dates between March 18 – 31.

Bulldogs settle for split in home-opening doubleheader

SEWARD, Neb. – The Concordia University softball team made its 2015 home debut on Wednesday evening at Plum Creek Park, where the Bulldogs relinquished a late lead in game 2 and settled for a doubleheader split with visiting Peru State College. Concordia took game 1, 8-5, before dropping a 9-6 decision in game 2.

Second-year head coach Todd LaVelle’s squad remains one game below .500 overall (8-9). LaVelle and company came away from their latest outing disappointed in their inability to close out the second game.

“When you’re up you definitely want to shut the door and finish the game,” LaVelle said. “The first game I felt like we played pretty well. We took better approaches at the plate and hit the ball fairly well. They had some errors, but I think we forced some of those by hitting it hard.

“In the second game – you never want to go down like that. That’s kind of what’s been happening to us leading up to this game. We seem to have an error or two and the heads go down and we just can’t get out of it.”

Concordia capitalized on seven Peru State (5-7) errors for a win in game 1. The Bulldogs put up crooked numbers with three runs in the first and another five in the fourth. Freshman third baseman Autumn Owens, who went 2-for-5 on the day, got the scoring started in the fourth with a leadoff blast to left center – her team-leading third homer of the season. Julia Tyree also drove in a run with an RBI single during an inning in which three different Bobcat infielders committed an error.

Tyree (2-for-3), Diana Mendoza (2-for-3) and Becca Walker (2-for-4) each had two hits apiece in the victory. The solid offensive attack helped make a winner out of freshman pitcher Michaela Woodward, who battled through 5.2 innings. Tyree then recorded the final four outs to earn the save.

In game 2, Tyree coaxed 17 ground outs as part of a solid performance through six innings. Things then unraveled in the seventh after a pair of errors extended the frame. Trailing 6-1, Peru State exploded with three-straight home runs, including a grand slam by Sydney Webb, to highlight an eight-run top of the seventh. Brittany McNeese powdered one of her two homers on the day during the outburst that put the Bobcats in front, 9-6.

Owens, who flashed a rocket arm on each of her six assists from the hot corner in game 2, surfaced as a bright spot in the loss. The rookie from Henderson, Nev., is one of several first-year Bulldogs making a big impact early in the season.

“Obviously Autumn’s playing really well,” LaVelle said. “She had the one error but she probably robbed two or three hits by playing a great third base. I’m happy with all of our defensive positions. We made most of the plays tonight. We just have to play seven innings instead of five.”

The Bobcats’ eight-run seventh made up for another seven errors that pushed their Wednesday total to 14 miscues. Seward native Lauren Johnson worked around those mistakes, allowing only two earned runs in a complete-game effort.

Eight different Bulldogs collected at least one hit in game 2. Senior center fielder Regan Doiel went 2-for-3 with a pair of infield knocks.

The Bulldogs will be back at home to open up the conference season on Saturday when Dordt (4-14) visits Seward for a 1 p.m. doubleheader. Concordia is scheduled to host five more twin bills yet in the month of March.

Woodward stays hot in GPAC-opening split with Dordt

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.

Tracy, Woodward power doubleheader sweep of Northwestern

SEWARD, Neb. – Behind the hot hitting of MaKenna Tracy and some impressive work in the circle by Michaela Woodward, the Concordia University softball team swept visiting Northwestern in a Saturday afternoon doubleheader at Plum Creek Park. Woodward totaled 12 strikeouts and belted her second homer of the season as the Bulldogs wiped away the frustrations of their previous two twin bills by taking decisions by scores of 5-1 and 6-5.

Second-year head coach Todd LaVelle’s squad, now 4-2 at home, climbed above .500 overall at 11-10. Concordia owns a 3-1 league record after collecting two confidence-building wins over the Red Raiders (10-14, 3-3 GPAC).

“Obviously it’s huge,” LaVelle said. “We needed that. It’s been a rollercoaster since last Saturday. They always say that the best medicine for defeat is to play again and get a win. We had a couple games canceled this past week so we had to ride that low rollercoaster all week. We met before and talked about what we had to do.

“These 14 young ladies came out and played great ballgames.”

Woodward, who earned the win in game 1 and the save in game 2, allowed just a single run on four hits over her seven-inning complete game to begin the Saturday affair. She blew away eight Red Raider hitters in the opening contest. She then added a homer in the third inning of the capper.

“My curveball was definitely moving a lot,” Woodward said. “And I could locate really well. I came back in with the screwball and the rise so I really tried to keep them off guard.”

The freshman pitcher from Courtland, Neb., got plenty of help from Tracy, who took a liking to the leadoff spot in the lineup. Now 11 for her last 16 at the plate, the Peru State College transfer went 5-for-8 with four RBIs on Saturday. Her two-run triple broke a 3-3 tie in the bottom of the fourth inning of game 2. She also played a starring role in Concordia’s game 1 five-run second inning when she singled in a pair of runs.

“What a great job MaKenna has done,” LaVelle said. “She’s playing lights out. I think some of the pieces are coming together. We need to keep it going.”

Unlike game 2 losses in their previous two doubleheaders, the Bulldogs were able to shut the door on Northwestern. After starting pitcher Julia Tyree ran into trouble in the top of the sixth, Woodward protected the team’s one-run line by throwing bullets in relief. She recorded the final four outs on strikeouts to earn her first career save.

At the bottom of the Concordia lineup, center fielder Regan Doiel enjoyed a 3-for-6 day with two runs. Out of the No. 2 hole, Becca Walker drove in three runs on Saturday. As a team, the Bulldogs notched a combined 18 hits on the day. As part of a balanced lineup, seven different players collected at least one hit in both ends of the doubleheader for Concordia.

The Bulldogs return to action on Monday when they host Briar Cliff (11-7, 1-1 GPAC) for another GPAC doubleheader. First pitch is set for 4 p.m. from Plum Creek Park.

Madsen walk-off winner completes sweep of Briar Cliff

SEWARD, Neb. – The Concordia University softball team continued its hot start to GPAC play by rattling off a combined 22 hits in a doubleheader sweep of visiting Briar Cliff on Monday evening. The Bulldogs won by scores of 7-2 and then 9-8 in a wild game 2 at Plum Creek Park.

Monday’s pair of wins came on the heels of two Saturday afternoon victories over Northwestern. Second-year head coach Todd LaVelle’s improved to 13-10 overall and 5-1 in conference play despite some late inning drama in the capper that Concordia had hoped to avoid.

“We need to clean up some errors and some of our approaches at the plate, but we’re going to take the wins tonight,” LaVelle said. “We said we know we have to get better, and I’m not so sure we got better tonight. We have more conference foes down the road that are going to push us. I felt like we were coming off a high and a lot of confidence on Saturday.”

A negative trend reared its ugly ahead once again on Monday as Concordia relinquished an 8-4 lead that it held going into the seventh inning of game 2. But the Bulldogs responded to Briar Cliff’s game-tying push with a Molly Madsen bases loaded, walk-off single in the bottom half of the frame to bump their winning streak to four.

An offensive attack that entered the game ranked third in the GPAC in both batting average and runs per game provided the lift Concordia needed for two more wins. Junior Julia Tyree went 5-for-8 on the day with three RBIs and a pair of runs. Her RBI triple got Concordia on the board in the bottom of the first and helped it rally back after the Chargers struck for three runs in the top half of the frame in game 2.

“I’m feeling pretty comfortable,” Tyree said. “It helps when you go in there and have the confidence to get the job done that you have before you. I’m feeling pretty good.”

Concordia got all seven of its game 1 runs off starter Hannah Hustad in the first three innings. The Bulldogs put up four runs in the first when Tyree doubled in a run, Shelby Schacher sent one home with a base hit and Madsen singled in two more tallies.

The Bulldogs ignited for three more in the third to chase Hustad from the game. Tyree drove in another run with a single and Becca Walker delivered a two-run knock through the left side of the infield.

Tyree and company built their 8-4 game 2 lead by tacking on two runs each in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings. Briar Cliff then made it a tense finish by scoring four times in the seventh, ultimately tying the game with Deanna Ayala’s two-run double with one out in the seventh.

Freshman Michaela Woodward, who got the win in both games, induced a lineout right back to the circle and a ground out to short to preserve the tie in the seventh. After allowing only one earned run in 5.1 innings during game 1 action, Woodward was tagged with two earned runs and a blown save in relief of Tyree in the second contest.

Madsen finished 3-for-7 with three RBIs on the day. Concordia left fielder Diana Mendoza went 4-for-6 and Woodward went 3-for-7. Meanwhile, Katlin Briley topped the Chargers with a five-hit day.

Tyree pushed her batting average to .412 (28-for-68) after Monday’s action.

“Molly and Jules came through,” LaVelle said. “You’re not going to keep good players down for long. I’m happy for them.”

The Bulldogs complete a run of 10-straight home games on Tuesday when they host Presentation College (6-16) in a doubleheader set to begin at 2 p.m. from Plum Creek Park. Concordia is 6-2 at home this season.

Bosanko catches fire in split with Presentation

SEWARD, Neb. – The Bulldog bats stayed hot, racking up a combined 24 hits, including three home runs, while splitting a pair of games with visiting Presentation College (S.D.) on Tuesday afternoon. The closing of a 10-game homestand saw the Concordia University softball team take game 1, 12-7, before falling, 7-5, in game 2.

Second-year head coach Todd LaVelle’s squad, which had a five-game win streak snapped in Tuesday’s capper, moved to 14-11 overall and 7-3 at Plum Creek Park.

“Just like last night, I want to clean up a few things,” LaVelle said. “It just doesn’t seem like we can put a full seven-inning game together whether it be at the plate, some errors or our pitching staff walking hitters. That’s the frustrating part. We know these girls have it. They have the talent to do it.”

Concordia’s offensive talent was on full display in the opening contest. Moved back to shortstop in the second game on Tuesday, sophomore Palmer Bosanko shook off early-season struggles by going 3-for-3 with three runs and two RBIs in game 1. She then hit a two-run homer in game 2 that tied the score, 3-3, in the bottom of the fourth.

Bosanko was the catalyst for an offense that got production up and down the lineup. On the day, Becca Walker went 4-for-7 with two runs and three RBIs, Michaela Woodward went 4-for-7 with an RBI, Shelby Schacher went 3-for-7 with a home run and Julia Tyree also connected on a home run.

But Bosanko’s performance stood out as the day’s biggest highlight.

“She had an exceptional day,” LaVelle said. “That was good for her. She’s one young lady that loves this game. She would practice four hours if I let her. She always wants to do her best. It was good for her to see a lot of success today. I’m proud of her.”

In game 2, Concordia trailed by a run as late as the fifth inning when the Bulldogs exploded for six tallies as part of a wild bottom half. Schacher initiated the onslaught with a solo homer (second of the season) to left field. Bunt singles by both Bosanko and Jordana Goncalves also scored runs and MaKenna Tracy knocked in two more with a base hit.

Goncalves worked two scoreless innings in relief before running into trouble with back-to-back hit batters to begin the seventh. LaVelle then called on Woodward, who recorded the final three outs of the game and ensured there would be no drama like there had been a night earlier.

Following Bosanko’s homer in the second contest, Presentation (10-18) built a four-run lead with two runs apiece in the fifth and seventh innings. Shortstop Brenda Botzenhart went 2-for-4 and homered in the Saint win.

Goncalves, the winning pitcher in game 1, took the loss in game 2 when she allowed seven runs (six earned) on eight hits and seven walks over six innings.

The Bulldogs return to conference action on Friday when they travel to nearby Doane (18-6, 4-0 GPAC) for a 1 p.m. doubleheader in Crete. The Tigers are receiving votes in the national poll and sit atop the league standings with a 4-0 GPAC record.

“We’ll be up for Doane,” LaVelle said. “It will be nice to see someone who’s playing really well and see how we stack up against them. We’ll give them everything I got.”

Concordia cut down by hot Doane team

CRETE, Neb. – The Concordia University softball team faced a stiff conference test in going up against the GPAC’s top-rated squad in a Friday afternoon doubleheader. Host Doane used an impressive defensive performance to sweep the Bulldogs, taking decisions by scores of 8-1 and 2-0 in Crete, Neb.

Second-year head coach Todd LaVelle’s bunch slipped to 14-13 overall and 5-3 in conference action.

“I tip my hat to Doane,” LaVelle said. “They probably have the best defensive team that we’ve seen in the conference. Their shortstop robbed us a couple times and their outfielder made a diving catch. Plus their top four hitters are all tough outs.”

The Tigers (21-7, 7-1 GPAC) put two runs on the board in the bottom of the first off Concordia game 1 starting pitcher Julia Tyree and never trailed at any point on the day. The Doane pitching combo of Ellie Doughty and Mala Lemay covered all 14 innings of the doubleheader, scattering 12 hits and six walks.

Concordia managed eight hits in the second game, but floundered with runners in scoring position. Lemay consistently wiggled out of jams and stranded the bases loaded in the third, fourth and fifth innings.

The lack of offensive production spoiled a solid outing from freshman Michaela Woodward, who went all six innings in the circle in the capper. She allowed two runs (one earned) on five hits and four walks while striking out six.

The only Bulldog run of the day came on first baseman Molly Madsen’s RBI double off Doughty in the top of the fifth of game 1. Madsen went 4-for-5 with a pair of walks on the day. In addition, Woodward turned in a solid 3-for-7 performance at the plate.

On the opposing side, Doane’s Nos. 1, 3 and 4 hitters (Nicole Fernandez, Heather Ramirez and Sam Valadez) went a combined 8-for-11 with five runs and four RBIs in the opening contest. Fernandez (.480) and Valadez (.440) are both hitting well above .400 on the year. Fernandez collected two hits in both games.

While the absence of clutch hits doomed Concordia in game 2, LaVelle sees progress in his team that relies on several young players in key spots.

“We hit it hard and they made all the plays,” LaVelle said. “They make you earn everything you get. On the other hand, we had a costly error in the second game.

“We’re right there. We know what we need to do now to be at No. 1 in the conference. We’re not getting too stressed out about today.”

After taking the Easter weekend off, the Bulldogs return to action on Monday when they host York College (4-19). The nonconference doubleheader is slated to begin at 5 p.m. from Plum Creek Park. Concordia has a home record of 7-3.

Owens, Tyree slug Concordia to pair of wins over York

SEWARD, Neb. – Three different Bulldogs homered as the Concordia University softball team swept a doubleheader from visiting York College at Plum Creek Park on Monday evening. The tandem of Julia Tyree and Autumn Owens went a combined 7-for-8 at the plate to power wins by scores of 6-3 and 8-6.

Second-year head coach Todd LaVelle’s squad jumped to 16-13 overall and 9-3 at home. The latest outing helped put behind two conference losses at Doane three days earlier.

“The girls played with some heart tonight,” LaVelle said. “They battled back. Every time York scored we seemed to answer. Our pitchers are tired. We have a couple banged up and we were trying to save Michaela (Woodward) for (Tuesday). It was really a good team effort tonight in both games.”

Tyree launched her team-leading fourth home run as part of a two-hit, four-RBI performance in game 1. Her blast in the top of the first knotted the score after the Panthers (4-21) had pushed across a pair of runs to open the evening. Then in the second, catcher Shelby Schacher drove the ball over the center field fence to put Concordia in front for good.

The Bulldogs tacked on two more in the second courtesy of a Tyree walk with the bases loaded and a Woodward sacrifice fly. Tyree also singled in a run in the fourth to provide insurance for game 1 starting pitcher Jordana Goncalves.

The freshman right-hander from British Columbia, Canada, went 6.1 innings, allowing three runs (two earned) on five hits and five walks. She gave way in the seventh for Tyree, who nailed down the final two outs for her second save of the season.

Owens emerged as the star of game 2. The rocket-armed third baseman drilled a booming solo homer to left in the bottom of the second and later chipped in an RBI single in both the fourth and fifth innings in her 3-for-3 effort.

“Coach put me in the game to get a job done. It’s my job to get that done,” said Owens, a Henderson, Nev., native. “I just had a clear mind and did what I needed to do for my team.”

With Owens and Tyree slugging away, Concordia built an 8-2 advantage in the night cap.  But York roared back with four runs in the top of the sixth. Both Brittany Rayls and Courtney Lovelace cracked two-run hits to make it a tense affair.

With the Panthers angling for the come-from-behind win, LaVelle turned to Woodward with one out in the top of the sixth. She promptly struck out the first two hitters she faced. After then allowing a leadoff single in the seventh, Woodward set down the next three hitters to notch her second save. Tyree (4-5), who went five innings, picked up the win despite allowing six earned runs on seven hits and two walks.

Concordia finished with a total of 19 hits on the day. Standouts other than Owens and Tyree included Schacher (2-for-3 in game 1) and outfielder MaKenna Tracy (1-for-2 with three runs in the opener).

The red-hot Tyree (team best .438 batting average) is 12-for-20 with two home runs and eight RBIs over her last eight games.

A stretch of three doubleheaders in as many days continues on Tuesday when the Bulldogs return to GPAC action with a twin bill at Hastings (17-11, 5-1 GPAC). First pitch is set for 5 p.m. from the Smith Softball Complex in Hastings. The doubleheader will provide another measuring stick against one of the league’s top teams.

“I’d say Doane right now is the favorite in the conference and Hastings is right behind them,” LaVelle said. “We have a chance to see where we stack up and we’ll give them everything we can.”

Seventh-inning rally allows for split at Hastings

HASTINGS, Neb. – A wild seventh-inning rally allowed the Concordia University softball team to snatch a road win and earn a doubleheader split with host Hastings (18-12, 6-2 GPAC) on a chilly Tuesday evening. Following an 8-5 loss in the opening contest, the Bulldogs responded with a 4-3 come-from-behind victory in the night cap.

Second-year head coach Todd LaVelle’s snapped a three-game conference skid with the game 2 win. The Bulldogs are now 17-14 overall and 6-4 in conference action.

“I think we grew up a lot,” LaVelle said. “Our girls needed (the win in game 2). We were playing a little uptight the past couple weeks and I think this can help us get the monkey off our backs. To play two games without an error against that caliber of competition is really exciting.”

Down to their final three outs and trailing 3-1, Concordia went to a small-ball approach. Bri Liebelt and Shelby Schacher got the inning started with back-to-back singles. Pinch hitter Liz Maxwell then laid down a sacrifice bunt that resulted in a run and no outs due to a Hastings error. In the proceeding sequence, Schacher scored after a ball got away from the catcher and Maxwell came around for the go-ahead run on MaKenna Tracy’s squeeze bunt.

The Bulldogs had a found a way to manufacture runs after recording only a single hit through game 2’s first six innings against Bronco starter Chloe Boeka.

“Against a good pitcher you have to try to get her out of her rhythm,” LaVelle said. “We moved some runners into scoring position and it just opened everything up. They had to start defending. We rolled the dice a little bit, but it made sense to go with small ball.”

In an effort to give the Bulldogs their best possible chance against a Bronco squad that entered the night with wins in six of their previous eight outings, LaVelle used ace pitcher Michaela Woodward for every inning of both games. In game 2, Woodward held Hastings scoreless until allowing a run apiece in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings.

After the Bulldogs edged in front 4-3, Woodward shut the door in the seventh by retiring the Broncos’ 1, 2 and 4 hitters in the lineup. The Cortland, Neb., native scattered eight hits and three walks while striking out five over seven innings in game 2. She ended the night with a 10-6 record on the season.

“We wanted to see how she would do pitching back-to-back games because we’ll need her to do that down the stretch,” LaVelle said. “I thought she handled it well. She kept her composure and showed what a competitor she is. She gave up some home runs but didn’t let it affect her.”

Concordia got off to a rousing start in game 1 when second baseman Becca Walker delivered a three-run homer in the top of the first. Designated player Julia Tyree remained hot by adding her team-leading fifth home run in the third.

Hastings freshman shortstop Corrin Ziepke upstaged them all by reaching base in seven of her eight plate appearances. She homered once in each game. Her two-run blast in the bottom of the sixth of game 1 was a back breaker that provided a three-run Bronco cushion.

At the plate, Woodward went 3-for-3 with an RBI in game 1. Tyree notched one hit both games to extend her hitting streak to seven.

The Bulldogs are scheduled to host a doubleheader for the seventh time this season when Bellevue University (22-8) visits Seward on Wednesday. The twin bill is slated to get underway at 5 p.m. from Plum Creek Park.

Goncalves fires five-inning no-hitter in trouncing of Central Christian

SEWARD, Neb. – Returning to action for the first time in a week, the Concordia University softball team got a five-inning no-hitter from freshman Jordana Goncalves as part of a doubleheader sweep of visiting Central Christian College on Tuesday evening. The Bulldogs won by scores of 6-3 and 12-0 over the Midlands Collegiate Athletic Conference foe.

Second-year head coach Todd LaVelle’s squad has won three-straight games and sports record of 19-14 overall and 11-3 at home.

“The first game we did not play well and the girls and the coaching staff knew it. It was nice to regroup the second game,” LaVelle said. “We saw Jordana pitched well. She had a no-hitter and really gave us five quality innings. That was impressive and that’s kind of what we expected out of her. Hopefully she can ride that momentum through the end of the year.”

Goncalves, a native of Mission, British Columbia, had plenty of run support to work with. Concordia pounded out 12 game 2 hits and put up three runs in the first, four in the second and five in the third. In continuing her torrid offensive season, junior Julia Tyree went a combined 4-for-5 with two doubles and three RBIs in powering the offensive attack.

But the most promising performance came via Goncalves. With Concordia still trying to develop depth behind ace pitcher Michaela Woodward, Goncalves held the Tigers without a hit. She walked three and struck out four in showing a glimpse of what she’s capable of moving forward.

“I felt confident and more relaxed tonight,” Goncalves said. “I knew my defense was behind me and they did a really good job backing me up.

“We don’t want it to be Woodward doing it all by herself. That was good.”

Four different Bulldogs backed Goncalves with two hits apiece in game 2: Regan Doiel (2-for-3), Diana Mendoza (2-for-2, three RBIs), MaKenna Tracy (2-for-3, three RBIs) and Becca Walker (2-for-3, two RBIs).

Tyree worked five innings in game 1 to move her record to 5-5. She allowed two runs (both earned) on six hits and one walk. Justine Hansen then recorded one out in her first varsity pitching appearance. She was followed by Woodward, who collected her third save while notching strikeouts for four of her five outs.

Central Christian, now 8-28 overall, actually outhit Concordia, 10-9, in game 1. Kristen Hall went 3-for-4 with an RBI to pace the Tigers in the opening contest.

LaVelle hopes his team is set to peak down the stretch.

“It’s going to come down to them wanting to play and wanting to finish well in the conference,” LaVelle said. “There’s no doubt they have the talent. We have a few losses, but I felt a lot of those losses were Concordia beating Concordia.”

A busy week at home continues on Wednesday when the Bulldogs host Nebraska Wesleyan (15-15, 8-4 GPAC) for a 5 p.m. doubleheader. The Prairie Wolves entered the week tied for third in the conference standings. They are the only team to defeat Doane in GPAC action.

Three-game win streak snapped by Nebraska Wesleyan

SEWARD, Neb. – Despite continued hot hitting from junior Julia Tyree, the Concordia University softball team fell twice at the hands of Nebraska Wesleyan in Wednesday night’s home doubleheader at Plum Creek Park. The Prairie Wolves, winners of eight of their last nine GPAC games, took decisions by scores of 5-4 and 11-2 in an eight-run rule shortened affair.

Second-year head coach Todd LaVelle’s squad, which entered the night with a three-game win streak, slipped to 19-16 overall and 6-6 in conference play. The Bulldogs are tied for fifth in the loss column in the conference standings.

The Bulldogs nearly came back from a 5-2 deficit entering the seventh inning of game 1. Concordia had life when Tyree stroked a two-run homer (sixth of the season) to center field with her team down to its final out against starter Marisa Garver. After hitting Michaela Woodward, Garver then retired Molly Madsen with a grounder to second to end the game.

Designated player Maddie Ethen powered the Nebraska Wesleyan (17-15, 10-4 GPAC) game 2 win with a pair of two-run homers. Ethen and company tagged Woodward for eight hits over 3.1 innings in the night cap. Woodward was then pulled for freshman Jordana Goncalves, who walked six hitters and allowed four runs in 1.2 innings of work.

Center fielder Regan Doiel emerged as a bright spot in the lopsided game 2 loss. She went 2-for-2 and drove in both Bulldog runs. Freshman Autumn Owens was the only other player to record a hit in the second contest with Garver again in the circle.

Tyree’s 0-for-1 (two walks) performance in game 2 put a halt to a 10-game hitting streak. Over the past 14 games, the native of Benicia, Calif., is 20-for-35 (.571) with five doubles, a triple, four home runs, 12 runs and 15 RBIs. The stretch of red-hot hitting has bumped her season average to a team high .453.

Like last week’s twin bill at Hastings, Woodward (10-8) started both ends of the doubleheader in the circle. She suffered the loss in each of Wednesday’s defeats.

The Bulldogs will close their 2015 home schedule on Sunday when they host Mount Marty (10-17, 3-11 GPAC) in a doubleheader set to begin at 1 p.m. Concordia will honor its six seniors as part of senior day.

Concordia drops two at Midland despite Schacher grand slam

FREMONT, Neb. – A pair of game 1 go-ahead extra base hits from freshman Shelby Schacher were not quite enough in a GPAC doubleheader at Midland that resulted in a pair of losses for the Concordia University softball team in Fremont, Neb., on Tuesday evening. The Bulldogs dropped a wild 10-9, eight-inning affair in game 1 prior to a 7-0 shutout loss in the night cap.

First-year head coach Todd LaVelle’s squad has fallen in four-straight conference games and now sits at 19-18 overall and 6-8 in league play (eighth place).

Concordia can take some solace in the mettle it showed to fight back and take a lead after facing a 5-0 game 1 deficit against Warrior ace pitcher Sammy Hislop.

“One of the positives is that we got down against one of the best pitchers in the GPAC and I felt we hit her pretty hard,” LaVelle said. “We had a lot of hits in that first game and she’s really shut down a lot of teams.

“It’s definitely a tough loss. We have to rebound and try to finish off the season strong. I think once you get to the conference tournament, anyone can win the GPAC.”

Schacher vaulted the Bulldogs into a 6-5 lead with a grand slam with one out in the top of the sixth, completing the rally from five runs down. Concordia set the table with back-to-back walks and then singles by Julia Tyree and Jordana Goncalves to begin the frame.

After Midland’s Liz Spooner tied the game, 6-6, with an RBI single in the bottom of the seventh, the Bulldogs busted loose with three runs in the top of the eighth. Schacher delivered an RBI double and freshman Autumn Owens belted a two-run double two batters later.

However, starting pitcher Michaela Woodward allowed the first four Warrior hitters in the eighth to reach and Nicole Andrews eventually provided the walk-off two-run single with one out. It was Concordia’s fourth GPAC loss of the season by two runs or less.

Goncalves started in the circle in game 2 and took the loss while allowing seven runs on eight hits and eight walks. She fanned seven Warriors.

Midland (18-19, 10-6 GPAC) struck for three first-inning runs in game 2 and then added three more insurance runs in the sixth in building a comfortable 7-0 margin. Both Andrews and Spooner drove in three runs in game 2. In the circle, Sarah Leimser fired a four-hit shutout for the victors.

Schacher led the Bulldog offensive attack (13 total hits on the night) with her 2-for-5, five-RBI effort in game 1. Owens enjoyed a 3-for-6 day at the plate.

The Bulldogs return home to host for the final time during the 2015 regular season when Mount Marty (10-21, 3-13 GPAC) visits Plum Creek Park for a doubleheader on Wednesday (April 22). Concordia will recognize its five seniors between games. Free hot dogs, brats, chips and water will be served to fans in attendance. In return, the softball program encourages fans to donate to a family that lost a member due to cancer.

Tyree drives in four more runs in sweep of Mount Marty

SEWARD, Neb. – In the final home date of the 2015 regular season for five seniors, the Concordia University softball team took care of business against an opponent that entered play with a six-game losing streak. The Bulldogs defeated vising Mount Marty by scores of 8-2 and 7-2 at Plum Creek Park on Wednesday evening.

Behind another big doubleheader from junior Julia Tyree at the plate, second-year head coach Todd LaVelle’s squad moved to 21-18 overall and 8-8 in conference action. Concordia finished with a home record of 13-5.

“We have five wonderful seniors who played their last games here at Plum Creek Park,” LaVelle said. “You always want to send them out on top and I think the underclassmen worked really hard to make that happen today. Mount Marty is a good team. They’re a lot better than their record shows. They’ve beaten some quality opponents like Nebraska Wesleyan. We knew we had to come and get things done.”

The Bulldogs never trailed at any point on Wednesday against the last-place Lancers (10-23, 3-15 GPAC). Concordia got two runs in the first inning of both contests while seeing production from its mainstays in the middle of the order. Tyree went 2-for-3 with a pair of RBIs in game 1 before teeing off with her team-leading seventh homer of the season in the first inning of game 2.

In the circle, Concordia freshman Michaela Woodward took care of all 14 innings and earned two wins to bump her overall record to 12-9. On the day she allowed three earned runs on 12 hits and three walks while striking out eight Lancer hitters.

In what’s been a roller coaster of a season, the Bulldogs trended back up on Wednesday.

“It was big to go out with these two wins because we’ve been kind of up and down,” senior Becca Walker said. “We had two losses yesterday but came out strong today. Hopefully it keeps getting better and springboards us into that next game.”

Walker played a hand in a three-run bottom of the sixth in game 2 that pushed a two-run lead to a five-run cushion. Woodward tripled and scored to get things started. Walker then singled through the left side and scored on fellow senior Molly Madsen’s double to the right center gap. Madsen came around on Autumn Owens’ ensuing RBI single.

Tyree went 3-for-6 with a home run and four RBIs on the day. Sophomore MaKenna Tracy turned in a 3-for-5 (two RBIs) performance, Woodward went 3-for-6 with three runs driven in and catcher Shelby Schacher plated one run in both ends of the twin bill.

Designated player Cassidy Janicek did the most damage for the Lancers. She enjoyed a 4-for-7 evening out of the cleanup spot.

All five Bulldog seniors saw action on Wednesday, including Clarissa Beving, Naomi Greder and Liz Maxwell, who started game 1 at catcher.

The Bulldogs will close the regular season this weekend with a road trip within the GPAC. They get it started with a 1 p.m. doubleheader at Dakota Wesleyan (9-31, 4-12 GPAC) on Saturday and a 2 p.m. twin bill at Morningside (20-17, 8-8 GPAC) on Sunday.

Senior reflections

Clarissa Beving
“These past four years spent with amazing young ladies, both past and present, has been a wonderful on and off the field. Thank you so much for this opportunity! God has truly blessed my life and time here at Concordia University by surrounding me with such wonderful, God-fearing and Christ-loving people.”

Naomi Greder
“The few short years here have been an amazing journey! I owe a huge thank you to all of the incredible people that have touched my life and helped make my college career unforgettable!  I have been blessed to receive so much more than just a degree from this institution. I couldn’t have asked for a better place to call my temporary home. I will always be proud to call myself a Bulldog!”

Molly Madsen
“I would like to thank Concordia for allowing me the opportunity to represent the university. I would also like to thank my family and friends for the love and support they have given me over the last four years and the coaching staff for always pushing me to be my best. I am grateful for the experiences I have gained and the lifelong friendships I have made during my time here.” 

Liz Maxwell
“Concordia has been an unexpected blessing to me. God works in mysterious ways and I sure am grateful He sent me here. The people that I’ve met have helped shaped me into the person that I am today. I’ll miss the team, the coaches, the road trips, and just getting to play the game that I love. I’m thankful for everyone and glad to know that I’ll always have a family here.” 

Becca Walker
“My Experience at Concordia has been one to remember. I am thankful for the friendships I have made and all of the unforgettable memories.”

Softball presents donation to umpire affected by tragedy

SEWARD, Neb. – Following Wednesday’s home regular-season finale, the Concordia University softball team presented a cash donation of $560 to local umpire Tom Morgan, whose wife recently died after a battle with cancer. The free-will donations were collected from fans in attendance and then given to Morgan. The softball program, with the support of head coach Todd LaVelle, wife Mindy and other local Seward businesses and individuals, supplied free hot dogs and chips in return for the donations.

A longtime high school softball coach (most recently at Lincoln North Star), LaVelle has known Tom as an umpire for 15 years. The death of Tom’s wife, who was diagnosed with cancer in January, forced him to quit umpiring so he could tend to his daughter, Sage, 14, a special needs child. Bulldog players gave Sage a team visor, shirt and autographed softball during the special postgame ceremony.

“Softball is a very tight group and the umpires are an extension of our family,” LaVelle said. “So when I heard that Tom could use a little extra help, it was an easy decision to do what we could here at Concordia. Talking with our team, we decided to place a jar for a free will donation in conjunction with our annual free hot dog feed. As you might have expected, the generosity of our campus and community of Seward once again supported someone in need. Our team captains wanted to give his daughter something special as well. After the presentation of the money and gifts, I overheard a CU fan say, ‘this is what softball is all about.’ I couldn’t agree more!”

Goncalves, Madsen drive in five apiece in split-salvaging game 2

MITCHELL, S.D. – After struggling to come up with clutch hits in the opening contest of Saturday afternoon’s doubleheader at Dakota Wesleyan, the Concordia University softball team took out its frustrations by piling up a season high 16 runs in game 2. The Bulldogs responded to the 8-2 loss with a 16-6, run-rule shortened thumping of the host Tigers to conclude the day.

Second-year head coach Todd LaVelle’s squad will head into the final day of the regular season in seventh place in the conference standings. Concordia sits at 22-19 overall and 9-9 in league play and could end up seeded anywhere from fifth through eighth at next week’s GPAC tournament.

“In the second game our girls responded,” LaVelle said. “They didn’t want to lose two on the road. We reminded them that our road record is not the best. Our hitting became contagious. Once we started getting some hits, then everyone was hitting up and down the lineup.”

Led by five RBI games by both freshman Jordana Goncalves and senior Molly Madsen, Concordia notched two runs or more in each of the first four frames in game 2. The Bulldogs ignited for six runs in the second and then five more in the third while pounding out 12 hits in the contest. Goncalves and Madsen both went 3-for-4 in the victory.

Concordia racked up nine hits in game 1 but also stranded nine runners on base. The Bulldogs struggled to crack pitcher Lorissa Loeppky, who left the bases loaded in the top of the second inning. Starting pitcher Michaela Woodward put Concordia on the board with an RBI single that scored Julia Tyree (leadoff double) in the third. Another run came across courtesy of an error by the Tiger third baseman.

Dakota Wesleyan (10-34, 5-15 GPAC) jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first thanks to an RBI double from Hailey Unger and a run-scoring single by Bailey Gummer. The Tigers maintained the lead the rest of the way with Unger (3-for-4, two doubles, four RBIs) supplying a significant portion of the production.

Concordia second baseman Julia Tyree put together another solid twin bill at the plate. She went a combined 3-for-7 with three runs and an RBI out of the No. 2 spot in the lineup. She was one of 10 different Bulldogs with at least one hit and one of six with at least one RBI on the day.

Woodward ended up working 9.1 of the 11 innings in the circle for Concordia. She allowed a combined 11 runs (10 earned) on 15 hits and four walks. She struck out 11 and was credited with one win and one loss on Saturday.

The Bulldogs close the regular season on Sunday when they travel to GPAC preseason favorite Morningside (22-17, 10-8 GPAC). After a slow start, the Mustangs have gotten on a roll and own an active eight-game winning streak. First pitch from Sioux City, Iowa, is slated for 2 p.m.

It will be a rematch of last season’s GPAC tournament title clash.

“We can be successful but we have to limit the errors and be into the game right away,” LaVelle said. “It’s important for us to start on top and play in the lead the entire game. Morningside is probably as hot as anyone right now.”

Woodward snaps Morningside win streak with one-hit shutout

SIOUX CITY, Iowa – In a rematch of last year’s GPAC tournament title clash, the Concordia University softball team split a road doubleheader with conference preseason favorite Morningside in Sioux City, Iowa, on Sunday afternoon. Following a 10-2, run-rule shortened loss in game 1, the Bulldogs followed the lead of ace pitcher Michaela Woodward in a 2-0 victory to conclude the regular season.

First-year head coach Todd LaVelle’s squad will enter the postseason with an overall mark of 23-20. At 10-10 in conference play, Concordia will be either the No. 7 or 8 seed (pending the result of Monday’s Dordt-Nebraska Wesleyan twin bill) in the GPAC tournament, which begins on Wednesday (April 29).

“It was a good team win,” LaVelle said of the regular-season finale. “Michaela pitched really relaxed knowing that her defense was working well behind her. It was definitely a pitching duel. Michaela threw with a lot of confidence and that’s nice to see going into the GPAC tournament.”

Woodward baffled the opposition in the finest outing of her freshman campaign. She snapped Morningside’s nine-game winning streak in the process of whirling a one-hit game 2 shutout that included a career best 12 strikeouts. She held the Mustangs (23-18, 11-9 GPAC) off the scoreboard despite walking four and hitting three batters. The lone Morningside hit was a Jacey Tomhave one-out single in the second.

All three of Woodward’s hit batters came in the bottom of the seventh with the Mustangs attempting to rally. The native of Cortland, Neb., stranded the bases loaded by fanning senior shortstop Taylor Daas for the game’s final out.

“It was freshman against senior with two outs and the bases loaded,” LaVelle said. “It was great to see Michaela have the confidence to go right at her.”

With Woodward bringing the heat in the circle, all Concordia needed was shortstop Becca Walker’s two-run, two-out single off Andrea Medinger in the top of the second. Walker’s clutch hit followed a prolonged plate appearance by Regan Doiel that resulted in a walk to load the bases. Medinger was pulled after two innings and gave way to Carlie Maasz, who allowed just a single hit over her five frames.

The work off Woodward helped the Bulldogs get over their run-rule loss in the opening contest at the Jensen Complex. Concordia took advantage of two Morningside fourth-inning errors and tallied two unearned runs to cut the deficit down to 4-2. But the Mustangs responded with two runs in the bottom half, one in the fifth and three more in the sixth off starting pitcher Jordana Goncalves. Anna Milone ended the game abruptly with an RBI single that enacted the eight-run rule in the sixth.

Walker had two of Concordia’s four hits on the day. Regan Doiel and Molly Madsen collected one hit apiece in game 1.

Official GPAC tournament pairings will be released on Monday. Concordia will be headed to one of two sites hosted by the league’s top-seeded teams – No. 1 Doane (31-9, 17-3 GPAC) and No. 2 Midland (24-19, 14-6 GPAC). Last season the Bulldogs earned an automatic bid to the national tournament by finishing runner up to Morningside at the GPAC playoffs.

“This should give us a great springboard into the conference tournament,” LaVelle said. “Now everyone is 0-0. I think any of the eight teams could win it. It’s going to come down to who gets hot.”

Seventh-seeded Bulldogs bust up Midland Bracket

FREMONT, Neb. – The lowest-seeded team in Fremont busted up the Midland Bracket on the opening day of the 2015 GPAC softball tournament on Wednesday. The Concordia University softball squad got a pair of wins from freshman pitcher Michaela Woodward on the way to upsets of host and second-seeded Midland, 8-4, and sixth-seeded Nebraska Wesleyan, 6-1.

Second-year head coach Todd LaVelle has now guided Bulldog teams to a 7-2 conference tournament record over the past two seasons. Seventh-seeded Concordia (25-20) is on a mission to recapture the magic from 2014 when it won five-straight GPAC elimination games to lock up the program’s first-ever bid to the national tournament.

“We told our girls that everybody’s 0-0,” LaVelle said. “This started a new season. I guess the biggest thing is that our girls believed in themselves. We’ve told them all year that they’re good and they can play to anybody’s level. They just played relaxed and they believed.”

Woodward fired all 14 innings in defeating teams the Bulldogs went a combined 0-4 against during the regular season. The righty from Cortland, Neb., extended her run of scoreless innings to 14 by blanking Midland through the first five frames. Over her two complete games, Woodward allowed five runs (all earned) on 11 hits and eight walks to go along with six strikeouts.

The Prairie Wolves managed only two hits off the hard-throwing rookie, who admitted she was tired after her strenuous but jubilant day in the circle.

“I’m not going to lie, I’m pretty tired,” Woodward said. “It was a lot hotter than normal.

“I don’t really know (what the key has been). The light switch kind of flipped on. Things are working better. Things are moving.”

Concordia upset the tournament’s No. 2 seed with an impressive offensive display that knocked Midland ace Sammy Hislop out of the game after 4.1 innings. Jordana Goncalves, Shelby Schacher and Julia Tyree collected two hits apiece as part of a nine-hit team total. Schacher generated the game’s first tallies with a two-run double off the right center wall in the top of the fourth that seemed to settle the Bulldogs in for the day.

Tyree, one of the GPAC’s top hitters this season, went 3-for-5 for the day and powdered a two-run, fifth-inning triple off the right field fence to extend the Concordia lead to 5-0 over the Warriors. An inning later MaKenna Tracy delivered a pinch-hit two-run single that put the Bulldogs on the brink of an eight-run rule victory. Midland avoided being run-ruled by scoring three in the bottom of the sixth.

Concordia did not wait as long to jump on top of the Prairie Wolves in a 5 p.m. start. A bases-loaded Becca Walker ground out put the Bulldogs up 1-0 in the top of the second against pitcher Marisa Garver. They struck for three more runs in the third courtesy of RBI singles from Woodward, Molly Madsen and Palmer Bosanko.

Woodward took it from there in another dominant effort in the circle. Now the Bulldogs are in the driver’s seat to make it to Saturday’s GPAC championship series at a site to be determined.

“Our confidence is really high,” Woodward said. “If we come out and play like we did today, we’ll do the same thing. Hopefully we’ll win and make it to Saturday.”

As a sign of Concordia’s ability to surface in big moments, the Bulldog defense went error free in the opening contest and routinely snuffed out potential rallies with solid play around the diamond. A bizarre 4-3-5 double play initiated by a diving Tyree at second was crucial in maintaining the lead in the win over Midland.

“We didn’t ever have that great big inning, but we just chipped away and kept going,” LaVelle said. “And we played great defense. Courtnay Serve and Palmer Bosanko both come in and played lights out even though they may not have gotten a lot of reps this year.

“The girls knew they could do this all year.”

The Bulldogs will try to keep the momentum going on Thursday. They will play an opponent to be determined at 2 p.m. in Fremont. One win will clinch a spot in Saturday’s conference championship series.

Rollercoaster ride accelerates into GPAC championship series

FREMONT, Neb. – It was worth the wait for Concordia University softball. It took a second try, but the Bulldogs staved off the host and No. 2 seed for another berth in the GPAC championship series. After Midland rallied for a 6-5 win to avoid elimination, Concordia put away the tired Warriors, 8-0 in five innings, to win the Midland Bracket of the 2015 conference tournament.

Second-year head coach Todd LaVelle’s squad (26-21) now looks forward to a rematch of the 2014 GPAC title clash when it challenges Morningside in a best-of-three series on Saturday. The winner will claim an automatic bid to the national tournament.

“It means a lot to the girls. They deserve this,” LaVelle said. “I’ve been fortunate with God’s grace to be able to coach a lot of teams and be in this position, but this is for the five seniors that we have. This is a goal they’ve had. The rollercoaster ride has been documented – and they never stopped believing in themselves.”

The Warriors (27-23) seemed to grab the momentum after Liz Spooner’s walk-off RBI single forced a Midland Bracket, winner-take-all contest. Head coach Keith Kramme’s bunch put itself in position to defend its own home turf, but the Warriors needed to win three games on Thursday, including two over a Concordia team that went 2-0 on the opening day of the double-elimination event.

Despite a regular season that came up short of expectations, a confident and fresher Bulldog team outlasted Midland in a battle of attrition.

“It feels really great just because we always do this to ourselves – we always have to make it harder for ourselves,” center fielder Regan Doiel said. “It feels so great. It feels so much better winning the second game, every time.”

Freshman pitcher Michaela Woodward, who held down all 25.2 tournament innings in the circle, erased doubts about whether she could handle the heavy workload by throwing a five-hit shutout in the deciding contest. She even singled in a pair of runs as part of a key three-run, fourth inning off Midland pitcher Sammy Hislop that provided a 4-0 Bulldog advantage.

After Woodward held the Warriors off the board in the bottom half of the fourth, Concordia put the game out of reach with four more runs in the top of the fifth. Jordana Goncalves (single), Doiel (single) and MaKenna Tracy (walk) set the table for a Diana Mendoza two-run double. Julia Tyree then laced a grounder that eluded the Midland first baseman and plated two additional tallies.

Woodward quickly retired the first two hitters in the fifth before back-to-back singles by Jami Redel and Kayla Ritzdorf gave the Warriors a glimmer of hope. The workhorse Woodward then got Jennie Sayker to foul out to third for the game’s final out.

Whatever method Concordia used to flush its first game on Thursday, it worked.

“Honestly I don’t remember what we said in there because I was kind of mad that we lost,” Doiel said. “But our team’s really good at getting it back together. We like to regroup and forget the game. We always forget and come back what we know how to do. We go back to the fundamentals.”

Doiel went 2-for-5 on the day while playing a stingy center field. She made the day’s biggest highlight reel play when she raced into left center and robbed Sherise Burnside with a sprawling catch. The diving grab thwarted a sure extra-base hit and left runners on first and second in the fourth inning of Thursday’s first contest.

Doiel and the Bulldogs committed just two errors over their four-game stay in Fremont. The team’s tremendous collective defensive effort backed Woodward, who allowed 11 runs on 23 hits and 15 walks over her 25.2 innings at the GPAC tournament.

At the plate, Woodward (2-for-4, two RBIs) and Mendoza (2-for-4, two runs, three RBIs) had two hits apiece in the victory. For Midland, Hislop enjoyed a monster first game as she went 3-for-3 with a double, home run and three RBIs.

The conference championship series features fifth-seeded Morningside versus seventh-seeded in Sioux City, Iowa. Saturday’s game times are set for 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. with the final game being an “if-necessary” contest. The Mustangs reached the conference championship by upsetting top-seeded Doane twice on Thursday. Morningside won by scores of 4-0 and 7-1.

“Obviously if Doane would have won it would have made a trip to nationals a little easier, but nothing’s been easy this year,” LaVelle said. “We’re going to welcome the challenge.”

Seventh-seeded Bulldogs knock off Morningside for GPAC tournament title

SIOUX CITY, Iowa – For the second time in program history, and for the first time since 2007, the Concordia University softball team has earned the distinction of GPAC tournament champion. The seventh-seeded Bulldogs completed their Cinderella run on Saturday by toppling five-time GPAC tournament defending champion and fifth-seeded Morningside in Sioux City, Iowa.

In a new tournament alignment for this season, the final two teams in the bracket were paired in a best-of-three series. Head coach Todd LaVelle’s squad needed only the minimum two games, winning by scores of 7-3 and 6-5 on Saturday. After an up-and-down regular season, Concordia (28-21) blazed through the conference bracket with a 5-1 postseason mark.

“Obviously it feels tremendous. Again, I’m so proud of these girls,” LaVelle said. “I told them at the end that I can go way back to the Nebraska Wesleyan doubleheader (April 15). We knew we didn’t play well. After the game we started about 9 o’clock and we practiced. Before that practice I drew a line in the sand to see who was all in. They all went all in.”

The definition of a workhorse, freshman Michaela Woodward covered all 39.2 GPAC tournament innings in the circle for the Bulldogs. Not only that, Woodward unloaded on a Faith Schmidt offering for a no doubter of a three-run homer in the top of the third in game 2 that edged Concordia in front, 4-3.

She then denied the Mustangs each time they threatened to regain the lead over the final four frames of the championship-deciding contest. Woodward left a runner in scoring position in both the fifth and sixth innings by fanning a Mustang to thwart the threat. Then in the seventh, Morningside cut a three-run deficit (6-3) down to one with Kristina Neumann’s two-run double that hit the left-center fence.

A theme all season, nothing was going to come easy. With Neumann at second, Woodward coaxed McKenzie Anderson into a grounder to third baseman Autumn Owens, who lasered a throw across the diamond for the final out. Finally, it was time to exhale.

“It was a great feeling, especially to sweep them on their home field,” Schacher said. “They play here all the time so they’re used to it. It was a great feeling.”

Up against a smoldering hot Mustang team that allowed just seven combined runs in its first five postseason contests, Concordia’s bats rapped out 13 game 1 hits and chased Schmidt, Morningside’s ace, from the affair after 2.1 innings pitched. Freshman catcher Shelby Schacher powered a solo home run in the opener as part of her 3-for-8 day out of the cleanup spot.

One of three freshmen starters on Saturday, Schacher was at ease in the biggest games of her young collegiate career. The mix of young and old has come together at the right time.

“They grew up,” LaVelle said. “All tournament long we started four freshmen, two sophomores, a junior and two seniors. They jelled together and Woodward pitched well. She also trusted her defense. We had some tremendous plays. They hit the ball hard and Autumn Owens made some tremendous plays at third and so did Becca Walker at short and Courtnay serve at second.

“I’m happy for them. They deserve it.”

The Bulldogs opened up a 7-2 lead in the opening game by way of a four-run fourth-inning. RBI hits were collected by Schacher, senior Molly Madsen and Owens (two-run single). While the game seemed to have little flow, Concordia didn’t mind and Woodward consistently worked out of jams.

“Michaela Woodward is a stud,” Schacher said. “Her and I have built a pretty nice bond over this year. As a freshman she’s done a great job.”

At the plate, Woodward went 4-for-8 with three RBIs on the day. Five different Bulldogs notched two or more hits in the day’s first contest: Owens (3-for-4, two RBIs), Regan Doiel (2-for-4, RBI), Molly Madsen (2-for-4, run, RBI), Schacher (2-for-4, two runs, two RBIs) and MaKenna Tracy (2-for-4, one run, one RBI).

Woodward (19-11) is now tied for the fourth-most single-season wins in program history. She has equaled the 19 wins posted by ace pitcher Amanda Beeson in 2014.

Concordia will be sent to one of the 10 opening round sites for pool play at the 2015 national tournament. Four teams are assigned to each site with the 10 winners advancing to play at the 2015 NAIA World Series in Sioux City, Iowa, May 22-28.

The NAIA will announce opening round pairings on Tuesday (May 5). But for now, Concordia is celebrating a run that not many outside the program would have predicted.

“They’re going to celebrate as long as they want. They deserve it,” LaVelle said. “It’s been a whirlwind week. We told them they couldn’t celebrate. Now they can. We’ll go back to work next week. A lot of these girls had experience last year and I think they want to go down there and not only represent Concordia, but represent the GPAC well, and try to win some games.”

Woodward named GPAC player and pitcher of week

GPAC release

SEWARD, Neb. – The brightest star of Concordia’s thrilling GPAC tournament title run, freshman Michaela Woodward has swept GPAC weekly softball honors. On Tuesday the conference named the Cortland, Neb., native both the GPAC/Hauff Mid-America Sports Player and Pitcher of the Week, marking the first career collegiate honors for Woodward.

A workhorse in the circle, Woodward threw all 39.2 innings in six games over four days of GPAC tournament action for the champion Bulldogs. Routinely able to wiggle out of jams, Woodward allowed 19 runs on 36 hits and 21 walks while going 5-1 over six starts last week. She limited Nebraska Wesleyan to one run on two hits on April 29. The next day she threw a five-inning shutout as the Bulldogs eliminated second-seeded Midland.

At the plate, Woodward topped the Bulldogs with a .450 (9-for-20) GPAC tournament batting average. She connected on a key three-run blast that put Concordia on top of Morningside in the title-clinching victory on May 2. Woodward drove in eight runs last week out of the No. 3 spot in the lineup.

On the year, Woodward owns a 19-11 record and 4.54 ERA in 180.1 innings (most in the GPAC). Her 19 wins are tied for fourth most on the program’s single-season list. As a hitter, Woodward is batting .386 with three home runs and 38 RBIs (tied for the team lead).

Woodward and the Bulldogs will learn of their national tournament opening round assignment when the NAIA announces official pairings at 7 p.m. CT on Thursday.

Tyree, Woodward highlight softball all-conference choices

GPAC release

SEWARD, Neb. – After starring in Concordia’s GPAC tournament title run, junior Julia Tyree and freshman Michaela Woodward headline 2015 all-conference selections for head coach Todd LaVelle’s squad. Tyree garnered first team selection while Woodward was placed on the second team, as announced by the GPAC on Friday. Meanwhile, senior Molly Madsen received honorable mention.

Tyree, the program’s first choice on the GPAC first team since Nicole Sempek in 2012, has blossomed in her third season as a Bulldog. She is the team leader in hits (56), runs (37), doubles (11), home runs (seven), RBIs (38), slugging (.681), walks (22) and on-base percentage (.526). The native of Benicia, Calif., ranks among the top five players in the GPAC in batting average, on base and slugging.

Woodward, who hails from Cortland, Neb., has fired more innings (180.1) than any pitcher in the GPAC this season. She went 5-1 at the GPAC tournament to improve her overall season mark to 19-11. She also owns a 4.54 ERA and 133 strikeouts. At the plate, Woodward is hitting .386 with three home runs and 38 RBIs. She provided the key three-run blast in the victory over Morningside that clinched the GPAC title and trip to the national tournament.

Madsen, a two-time second team all-conference pick, is hitting .277 with 29 RBIs in her final season at Concordia. The native of Thornton, Colo., has recorded 333 putouts and a .983 fielding percentage as the team’s first baseman.

The Bulldogs (28-21) will return to action on Monday when they take on No. 1 Oklahoma City (52-4) in the opening round of the 2015 national tournament. Concordia is making its second-straight trip to the national tournament.

Underdog 'Dogs open national tournament Monday in Oklahoma City

SEWARD, Neb. – Following a six-hour bus ride on Sunday, the Concordia University softball team will prep for its showdown with the NAIA’s No. 1-ranked team. The Bulldogs and national tournament opening round host Oklahoma City (52-4) will go head-to-head at 7 p.m. CT from Ann Lacey Stadium in Oklahoma City, Okla., on Monday. Oklahoma City is one of 10 opening round sites.

Concordia will also play again at either 12 p.m. or 3 p.m. Tuesday in the double-elimination bracket. No. 17 Concordia University (Ore.) (40-16) and Grand View University (Iowa) (33-11) were also assigned to the Oklahoma City Bracket.

With each of the other three teams in the pool either nationally-ranked or receiving votes in the final coaches’ poll, head coach Todd LaVelle’s squad enters the tournament as a decided underdog in its second-straight appearance on the national stage.

“It’s very exciting. Whoever you play this time of year is going to be a good team and a quality opponent,” LaVelle said. “Obviously Oklahoma City being ranked No. 1 for the last eight weeks in a row is a tough draw, but everything has been tough this year. We’ll welcome the challenge and go down there, play loose and see what we can do. We’ll see how we stack up. I don’t think we’ll be nervous.”

Oklahoma City is coached by NAIA Hall of Famer Phil McSpadden, who has guided the Stars to more than 1,400 wins and eight national championships in his 29 seasons leading the program. McSpadden’s 2015 squad is a powerful one that averages 9.1 runs (second in the NAIA) and is hitting .391. Oklahoma City won the Sooner Athletic Conference championship with a league record of 25-1.

On the other hand, LaVelle’s squad is hitting its stride after a regular season that fell short of expectations. The Bulldogs blazed through the GPAC tournament by winning five of six games, including two over Morningside in the conference championship series. Concordia is led by junior slugger Julia Tyree (.415 BA, first team all-conference) and freshman pitcher Michaela Woodward (second team all-conference).

Seven returning Bulldogs saw action in both of last season’s opening round national tournament games played in Shawnee, Okla. Concordia fell by scores of 4-3 to host and sixth-ranked St. Gregory’s University and 3-1 to Bellevue University. Under a different format, the Bulldogs advanced to NAIA regional tournaments six-straight years from 2003 to 2008.

At 28-21, Concordia has posted the seventh-highest single-season win total in program history. Five Bulldog softball teams have reached the 30-win plateau with the 2005 team (36-19) being the current record holder for victories in a season.

The opening round hosts include: Auburn University (Ala.), Central Methodist (Mo.), Concordia (Calif.), Lindsey Wilson (Ky.), LSU Alexandria (La.), Oklahoma City, Oregon Tech, St. Gregory's (Okla.), USC Beaufort (S.C.) and William Carey (Miss.). Three of these institutions, Central Methodist, LSU Alexandria and Oregon Tech, are playing as hosts for the first time since the format began in 2013.

The 40-team field is comprised of 31 automatic qualifiers, four Opening Round host berths and five at-large berths. The 19 conferences, including the Association of Independent Institutions (A.I.I.), received one berth per six teams and two berths per ten teams. In addition, two unaffiliated groups receive two berths each.

The 10 Opening Round champions will punch their ticket for the 35th annual NAIA Softball World Series in Sioux City, Iowa, on the Morningside College campus from May 22 - 28. Those programs will participate in a double-elimination format on one championship field. Last year, Auburn Montgomery defeated William Carey, 10-6, to record its first-ever softball championship.

For more information on the 2015 NAIA Softball National Championship, click here.

NAIA Championship Opening Round
At Oklahoma City University
Ann Lacy Stadium

Monday, May 11 
Game 1: No. 2 Concordia (Ore.) (40-16) vs. No. 3 Grand View (Iowa) (33-11), 4 p.m.
Game 2: No. 1 Oklahoma City (52-4) vs. No. 4 Concordia (Neb.) (28-21), 7 p.m.

Tuesday, May 12
Game 3:
 Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2, 12 p.m.
Game 4: Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2, 3 p.m.
Game 5: Winner Game 4 vs. Loser Game 3, 6 p.m.

Wednesday, May 13
Game 6: Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 5, 12 p.m.
Game 7: If Necessary, 3 p.m.

Ticket Information
*Tickets will be available on site one hour prior to the start of the first game
Single-Session Adult: $10.00
Single-Session Student (Ages 18 and under): $7.00

Follow the tournament live

Live Video:

Live streaming video of each game in the tournament will be provided at a rate of $8.95 per day with a $19.95 tournament pass. Go to www.ocusports.com for information.

Web Sites:
OCU athletic web site: http://www.ocusports.com
2015 NAIA Championship Opening Round Oklahoma City Bracket: http://bit.ly/1GUNJle
Live video: http://bit.ly/1zI80eb
OCU visitors guide: http://bit.ly/12Cv47g

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

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.

Bulldogs notch program's first-ever national tourney win; eliminated from postseason

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – Tuesday turned into a historic day for Concordia University softball as the program recorded its first-ever national tournament victory. Facing an elimination game, the Bulldogs knocked off Grand View University (Iowa), 6-4, in their school’s fourth game over the past two years in the opening round. Then in a rematch with No. 1-ranked Oklahoma City, the host Stars won 9-2.

Head coach Todd LaVelle’s squad ends the 2015 campaign with an overall record of 29-23. That victory total ties for the sixth most in a single-season in program history. LaVelle hopes the national tournament win provides a springboard for future success on the grand stage.

“We’re extremely proud of these girls, not just for what they did today but for what they did all season,” LaVelle said. “At the end of the year you wrap up the whole season and there were so many things that these girls did well that propelled them to here on the national stage. We talked about it a year ago that just getting here wasn’t good enough.”

Concordia built a 5-0 advantage despite leaving eight runners on base through the game’s first four frames. After Grand View (33-13) scored four-straight runs to make it a tight game, Becca Walker squeezed home a seventh-inning run and starting pitcher Michaela Woodward shut the door in the bottom half. The Bulldogs then celebrated their first national tournament victory.

After seeing its ace pitcher knocked out of the tournament via a line drive off the face on Monday, Grand View fell behind in the top of the first and trailed the rest of the way. Both Woodward and Molly Madsen drove in a run apiece with RBI singles. Sophomore Diana Mendoza, Madsen and Woodward each collected two hits in the win.

Mendoza, the Bulldog left fielder, continued her great work in Oklahoma City on Tuesday. She went 5-for-11 for the tournament with two hits apiece in the first two games of the event.

“It’s great being part of it – first time in school history,” Mendoza said of Tuesday’s win. “I was shaking the whole time, but it just pumps me up that I was part of it.”

The top-ranked Stars (54-5) picked up where they left off Monday when they pounded Concordia by a 13-0 score. In the opening frame of Tuesday’s elimination game, Oklahoma City rocked Woodward for six runs on six hits.

Behind reliever Jordana Goncalves, the Bulldogs settled in after the rough first inning. The powerful Stars, eight-time national champs in school history, went scoreless in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings. Concordia managed to allow just five earned runs on 11 hits over seven innings.

Concordia got its only two runs in the loss on Mendoza’s two-run single up the middle. After recording eight hits versus Grand View, the Bulldogs rapped out six hits against Oklahoma City.

The 2016 Bulldog squad will move on without five departing seniors, including starters in first baseman Molly Madsen and shortstop Becca Walker. Both played their final games as Bulldogs on Tuesday. Madsen was a three-time all-conference honoree during her four-year career.

“For the five seniors this is the last hurrah,” LaVelle said. “But you know what, what a way to go out. They went out fighters and they went out winners. It’s a great thing and a great building block for the future of Concordia softball.”

The Oklahoma City bracket will come down to the Stars and No. 17 Concordia-Oregon. The Cavaliers sit in the driver’s seat after upsetting Oklahoma City, 3-1, in Tuesday’s opening game.

Bulldog softball climbs higher with never-be-satisfied approach

In 2014 then first-year head coach Todd LaVelle guided the Concordia University softball team to its first-ever national tournament appearance. A year later the Bulldogs captured the program’s first-ever win on the national stage. In addition, Concordia’s 61 wins over the past two seasons are the third most over a two-year stretch in the more-than 40-year history of Bulldog softball.

Under LaVelle, Concordia has taken a never-be-satisfied approach. Perhaps cliché, maybe a bit cheesy, but slogans such as “why not us?” and “we can do this” have served as unifying rallying cries. Even in a campaign that had come with disappointment until a seemingly improbable GPAC tournament title, the 2015 Bulldogs managed to do something no other team in school history had ever accomplished.

“We talked about it a year ago that we were going to come in here and just getting here wasn’t good enough,” LaVelle said after his squad’s postseason run concluded on Tuesday. “We got embarrassed a little bit (by Oklahoma City University on Monday) against a good team. The girls could have folded. They didn’t. They came back and were eager to play. They were loose and they beat a very good Grand View team.”

Under LaVelle, Concordia has shown a tendency to rise to the occasion in big games. The Bulldogs have reached the GPAC championship series in each of the past two seasons and they own a 10-3 conference tournament record during that stretch. Last year the ‘fightin’ LaVelles’ came up just short in a 4-3 loss to No. 6 St. Gregory’s University in the program’s first-ever national tournament game.

On Tuesday, Concordia stayed alive in the Oklahoma City bracket by sending Grand View (receiving votes nationally) packing with a 6-4 victory that had come on the heels of a blowout loss to the No. 1-ranked Stars. It was another example of how quickly LaVelle and company can turn things around even at the bleakest of moments.

“We just didn’t think about it too much,” sophomore Diana Mendoza said of the loss on Monday. “We just shook it off real quick. We went to iHop, had some fun and then came back the next day like it didn’t happen.”

After leading Lincoln North Star High School to a record of 171-91 and a state runner-up finish during his tenure, LaVelle has cultivated a roster that now believes it can win not just at the conference level, but on the national scale. And he’s kept alive a winning tradition. Concordia softball has produced above .500 records in 19 of the last 20 seasons.

Now the question is what’s next. LaVelle has his sights set on doing what it takes to eventually reach the NAIA Softball World Series, which hosts the last 10 teams left standing after the completion of opening-round play.

“I told the coaching staff and the players that I want to come away from this saying what can we do to be at the next level,” LaVelle said. “Now we’ve won a game, we’ve been here. We want to be competing to get to the final 10. I think they’re starting to know what it takes. We’re probably going to have to work a little bit harder.

“It’s been a great experience. A lot of teams have been home for a week or 10 days. We were still playing. It was a great learning experience for everybody.”

LaVelle will be able to build his 2016 team around standouts such as Mendoza, slugger Julia Tyree, ace pitcher Michaela Woodward and an exciting group of recruits. Transfers Taylor Flodman (formerly of NCAA Division I Creighton University) and Kylie Harpst (formerly of NCAA Division II Pittsburg State) are expected to be key contributors. Both practiced and traveled with the team in 2015 but did not appear in any games.

This year’s late-season run will provide a springboard for another campaign that will come with high expectations.

Said Mendoza, “We’ve got a lot of new players coming in so I think we’re going to do a lot better next year, too.”

Softball places four on scholar-athlete list

SEWARD, Neb. – Four Concordia University softball players have been named 2015 Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athletes, as announced on Wednesday by the NAIA. Three of the four are repeat honorees: seniors Clarissa Beving, Naomi Greder and Liz Maxwell. Junior Danielle Harstad is a first-time scholar-athlete.

In order to be nominated by an institution’s head coach or sports information director, a student-athlete must maintain a minimum grade point average of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale and must have achieved a junior academic status. A total of 402 softball student-athletes across the nation were named scholar-athletes by the NAIA.

Concordia University ranks as the NAIA’s all-time leader in number of Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athletes with 1,110 and counting. The 2014-15 season has produced 90 Bulldog scholar-athletes. During the 2013-14 academic year, Concordia garnered 101 Scholar-Athlete honorees (most in the NAIA) and 17 NAIA Scholar-Teams (tied for fourth nationally).

Concordia University, Nebraska, founded in 1894, is a fully accredited, coeducational university located in Seward, Neb., that currently serves over 2,200 students. Concordia offers more than 50 professional and liberal arts programs in an excellent academic and Christ-centered community that equips men and women for lives of learning, service and leadership in the church and world.

2015 Concordia softball Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athletes

  • Clarissa Beving, Sr. | Hartley, Iowa | Middle Level Education
  • Naomi Greder, Sr. | Sloan, Iowa | Early Childhood/Elementary Ed
  • Danielle Harstad, Jr. | Lewiston, Minn. | Art Education
  • Liz Maxwell, Sr. | Fullerton, Calif. | Elementary/Special Ed

Woodward highlights softball All-Nebraska selections

SEWARD, Neb. – Freshman pitcher Michaela Woodward starred during the Concordia softball team’s late-season run to a second-straight national tournament appearance. In recognition, she was named to the Omaha World-Herald’s All-Nebraska NAIA Softball Team. Fellow Bulldogs Molly Madsen, Julia Tyree and Becca Walker received honorable mention from the Omaha news outlet.

A workhorse in the circle, Woodward logged 194.2 innings while posting a record of 20-13 to go along with a 4.89 ERA and 137 strikeouts. She fired every single Bulldog pitch over the team’s six-game GPAC tournament title chase. At the plate, she batted .392 with three home runs, 39 RBIs. She had a .439 on-base percentage and a .562 slugging percentage.

Tyree established herself as Concordia’s most consistent hitter. She posted team highs of a .397 batting average, seven home runs, .514 on-base percentage and .652 slugging percentage. Madsen, a two-time second team all-conference choice, batted .282 with 30 RBIs as a senior. Walker hit .315 with a homer and 31 RBIs in her final collegiate season.

Head coach Todd LaVelle’s squad went 29-23 and collected the program’s first-ever national tournament win in 2015.

All-Nebraska NAIA Softball Team
C: Sayde Woten, Bellevue, Fr., .327
1B: Heather Sabata, Hastings, Jr., .350
2B: Ashley Gigax, Bellevue, Sr., .424
3B: Sam Valadez, Doane, So., .362
SS: Kayla Ritzdorf, Midland, Sr., .387
OF: Nicki Larsen, CSM, Fr., .500
OF: Chloe Boeka, Hastings, So., .469
OF: Rachel Kubik, Neb. Wesleyan, Jr., .443
OF: Jennie Sayker, Midland, Sr., .302
UT: Shelby Kindelin, Bellevue, Sr., .387
EH: Mariah Gibson, CSM, Jr., .344
P: Taylor Mohler, Bellevue, Sr., 22-7
P: Ellie Doughty, Doane, Jr., 21-8
P: Samantha Hislop, Midland, Sr., 14-11
P: Michaela Woodward, Concordia, Fr., 20-13

Honorary captain: Ashley Gigax, Bellevue

Honorable mention: Kelli Fisher, Sydney Robertson, Courtney Schendt, Alex Tooley, Bellevue; Mara Eeman, Jessica Gargano, Leah Kipfer, Jamie Zimmerer, College of St. Mary; Molly Madsen, Julia Tyree, Becca Walker, Concordia; Nicole Fernandez, Danielle Morrow, Heather Ramirez, Makaela Moore, Doane; Taylor Erlenbusch, Morgan Fisher, Corrin Ziepke, Hastings; Nicole Andrews, Sherise Burnside, Sarah Leimser, Liz Spooner, Midland; Marisa Garver, Brittany Gentry, Betsy Reimer, Madi Francis, Nebraska Wesleyan; Toni Blackwell, Brittany Harward, Peru State; Chelsea Holland, Morgan Moore, Corrine Pearl, Brittany Rayls, York.