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Home Sports Bulldogs Pursue Nationals with Depth of Team

by Savanah Baker


Concordia’s softball team hopes to use the depth of its roster and the variety of team leaders to fine-tune its performance and return to the national tournament this season.

The Bulldogs are ranked third in the Great Plains Athletic Conference behind Doane College and nationally ranked (14) Morningside College.

“We split with (Doane) and had our chances…but we left too many runners on base,”  coach Todd LaVelle said. “We need to work on getting timely hits and getting those girls back across the plate with RBI hits.”

The Bulldogs lead the GPAC in batting average (.354), slugging percentage (.506), runs scored per game (7.30), hits per game (10.21), RBI per game (6.46), triples per game (0.54) and total triples (18).

“From a coaching standpoint, we have been in every game. The games [we lost] were just by one or two runs,” LaVelle said. “We just need to fine-tune some things, and I think we will see those numbers turn more positive.”

This positive mentality courses through the entire team.

“We have more depth here than we’ve ever had in my career here,” said Julie Tyree, senior captain and first baseman. “Anyone can be playing at any time, and those still on the bench are cheering (the players) on and supporting them.”

The team does not rely on any one person to lead them. The Bulldogs start a lineup from freshmen to seniors, and all are provided with opportunities to lead.

“I always give the seniors plenty of say, and they have the ability to assume that leadership role,” LaVelle said. “But, that being said, we welcome everybody. It does not have to be by grade or age, because all these girls have a lot of experience. We stress the team concept a lot…and somebody every day takes a turn at the leadership role.”

This assumption of leadership allows the Bulldogs to capitalize on varying abilities on the field. Eight of the players in the starting rotation are ranked in conference for both offensive and defensive work.

“We can totally win conference both in season and during the tournament,” Tyree said. “I’m not just saying that because this is my team, but I’ve seen how good these girls can be, and if we work together, we can win anything, make it to nationals again and go farther than before.”

The Bulldogs qualified for the national tournament the last two years under LaVelle, but each time were knocked out in the opening round. LaVelle does not find this disheartening; instead, he considers it a learning opportunity.

“A lot of coaches monitor success in wins and losses…but I think a successful game and a successful season is when (the girls) play to their ability,” LaVelle said. “We have girls who have high abilities and can win a lot of games. We want to be GPAC champs and go to the national tournament, but we need to do the necessary steps to get better first.”

The Bulldogs have six games remaining before the beginning of the GPAC tournament. Their next game will be April 23 in Yankton, South Dakota, as they take on the Mount Marty Lancers.


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