News and notes:
Registration open for Bulldog Golf Classic: The 23rd annual Bulldog Golf Classic is set for Friday, July 22 at Woodland Hills Golf Course in Eagle, Neb. Team payment and registration is due by July 8. Teams can be registered by clicking HERE.
Outdoor track begins season Saturday: Following top-five national finishes at the 2016 indoor championships, the Bulldogs get the outdoor season started on Saturday with the Hastings Invite. Head coach Kregg Einspahr’s program will host for the first time this outdoor season when the Concordia Invite takes place on April 9. For a preview of the outdoor season, click HERE.
Football opens up spring ball: The Concordia football program opens up spring ball tonight (March 29) under the direction of Vance Winter, who enters his eighth season as head coach in 2016. The Bulldogs return a total of 17 starters (10 offense, seven defense) from last year’s squad that went 6-4 overall. Roughly 85 athletes will participate this spring. For more on the 2016 team, click HERE.
Winter wrap up: Last week we put a bow on the winter sports season by summarizing the top moments and performers from men’s and women’s basketball, indoor track and field and wrestling. Read the full recap HERE.
Summaries: M Basketball | W Basketball | Wrestling
Boellstorff takes off in junior season: Cody Boellstorff won the weight throw national title while enjoying a monster indoor season for Bulldog track and field. The two-time national champion has reached impressive heights thanks to improved throwing mechanics and confidence. For more on the native of Waverly, Neb., click HERE.
Women’s basketball ranked 19th in postseason poll: For the 66th-straight poll, the Concordia women’s basketball program received a top-25 national ranking. Head coach Drew Olson’s squad checked in at No. 19 in the postseason ranking released last week by the NAIA. The Bulldogs have been ranked in every poll since the 2011-12 preseason rankings.
Tennis hosts GPAC opener Saturday: Head coach Joel Reckewey’s squads have been idle since a busy stretch of matches three-straight days, March 9-11. During which, both the Bulldog men and women went 1-2. The Concordia men are now .500 at 6-6 overall while the women are 2-10. The Bulldog tennis programs will host Morningside at 12 p.m. on Saturday in their GPAC opener. For more information on Concordia tennis: MEN | WOMEN.
Bulldog Coaches Show airs every Thursday at 4 p.m. CT: New this year is the Bulldog Coaches Show, which runs for a half hour every Thursday beginning at 4 p.m. CT on KOOL 103.5 FM. The show can also be heard live via 104.9 Max Country’s website or by downloading the TuneIn Radio app and then searching “KOOL.” Throughout the 2015-16 season, Bulldog football, men’s and women’s basketball and volleyball contests were aired live on Max Country.
Concordia Sports Network: Live webcasts for most home varsity contests can be accessed by visiting http://www.cune.edu/csn at game time. Check team schedules/results pages for webcast dates. Scrimmages, exhibitions and junior varsity events are not broadcasted.
- A combination of cancelations and postponements caused Concordia to go 11-straight days without playing a game. That streak ended on Monday with the team’s GPAC-opening doubleheader at Northwestern. After relinquishing an eighth-inning lead in a 4-3 loss in game 1, the Bulldogs responded with a 7-2 victory over the Red Raiders (10-11, 1-1 GPAC) in game 2. Third-year head coach Todd LaVelle’s squad now owns records of 14-5 overall and 1-1 in conference play. To read recaps of recent action, click HERE.
- Last week Concordia vaulted to No. 2 in the official GPAC rankings. It remained in that spot in the rating released on Monday (March 28) via NAIA.org. The Bulldogs, picked fifth in the league’s preseason poll, got off to an impressive 12-2 start this season and won nine of 10 games during its road trip in Tucson, Ariz. In last week’s national rankings, Concordia appeared among “others receiving votes,” placing it 36th in the nation. It was the first time the Bulldogs received national votes since the April 8, 2014, poll. The 2014 team, a national qualifier, garnered votes in the national poll for four-straight weeks from March 18 – April 8. No Concordia softball team has ever cracked the top 25.
- Transfers Kylie Harpst and Taylor Huff have adjusted to Concordia and NAIA softball with little problem. The former Lincoln North Star High School teammates, who were then coached by LaVelle, are tearing it up at the plate. Both homered in Monday’s doubleheader. Harpst is now batting .453 with two home runs, three doubles, two triples, 19 RBIs and a .656 slugging percentage. Huff is hitting .393 with two homers, eight doubles, two triples, 23 RBIs and a .689 slugging percentage.
- Five Bulldog regulars rank within the top 18 among GPAC players in batting average: Harpst (fifth), Michaela Woodward (11th, .397), Huff (12th, .393), Autumn Owens (15th, .390) and Diana Mendoza (18th, .387). Three other starters are batting above .300: Megan Ruppert (.362), Leah Kalkwarf (.315) and Julia Tyree (.304). Concordia’s .367 team average is the best in the GPAC and ninth highest among all NAIA softball teams.
- The Bulldogs have had a shot to win each of their first 19 games. Their five losses have come by a combined margin of eight runs. None of those defeats have been by margins of more than two runs. Thus far, 11 of 19 contests have been decided by two or fewer runs. Concordia is 6-5 in those games.
- In 2015 Woodward started 13 of 20 GPAC regular-season games and then all six conference postseason contests. Her workload will be lesser this season with Harpst joining the pitching staff. On Monday Woodward got the ball in game 1 and fired 6.1 innings before giving way to Harpst, who covered the final 8.1 innings required of Concordia pitchers at Northwestern. The two have split starting assignments down the middle with Harpst making 10 starts and Woodward nine. Woodward has tossed slightly more innings (60.2 to 57).
- As a team Concordia ranks inside the top five among GPAC teams in the following statistical categories: batting average (1st, .367), slugging percentage (1st, .521), hits per game (1st, 10.4), triples (1st, 10), runs per game (2nd, 7.5), fielding percentage (2nd, .962), home runs (4th, 10), stolen bases (4th, 30) and doubles (4th, 33).
- Woodward owns the longest active hitting streak on the team having hit safely in 11-straight games. Her hitting streak dates back to the Tucson Invitational on March 7. Over the 11-game stretch, the native of Cortland, Neb., has gone 17-for-37 (.459) with a home run, two doubles, a triple and eight RBIs. She is a .393 hitter over 211 career at bats as a Bulldog.
- Four GPAC contests remain on the slate for this week. Concordia will take on preseason GPAC favorite and defending regular-season league champion Doane (11-6, 0-0) in a doubleheader set for 3 p.m. in Crete on Wednesday. On Saturday, the Bulldogs finally open up their home schedule as Briar Cliff (9-11, 0-0 GPAC) visits Plum Creek Park for a 1 p.m. first pitch. Though conference play is underway, Concordia still has four non-league doubleheaders left on its 2016 schedule.
- Due to cancelations, Concordia played just a single doubleheader last week. In a rematch of a twin bill a week earlier, the Bulldogs were swept by 12th-ranked Tabor College (Kan.) (25-8) in Seward on March 22. Second-year head coach Ryan Dupic’s squad was outscored by a combined total of 28-11 by the visiting Bluejays. With the scheduled four-game series at Clarke University (Iowa) (March 24-25) wiped out by inclement weather, Concordia now stands at 14-14 overall. To read recaps of recent action, click HERE.
- Though the Bulldogs struggled to keep Tabor off the scoreboard, they continued their own solid work at the plate. While scoring 11 combined runs, Concordia collected 16 hits and eight walks. A home run apiece came from senior Taylor Dudley (game 1) and freshman Johnny May (game 2). May, a native of Johnston, Iowa, has two home runs over his last three games. Meanwhile, Dudley had gone the first 112 games of his career without hitting a long ball. As a team, Concordia has 16 home runs over its first 28 games.
- Designated hitter Christian Montero continued his hot hitting while going 3-for-5 in last week’s doubleheader. He’s now hit safely in 12 of the last 13 games. After a 4-for-27 (.148) start to his season, Montero has heated up by going 27-for-62 (.435) since then. The native of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic ranks as one of the most prolific hitters in the GPAC: second in RBIs (30), fourth in home runs (5), sixth in total bases (53) and ninth in slugging (.596).
- No. 3 hitter Kaleb Geiger has been similarly hot. Last week he was named the GPAC player of the week on the heels of a 7-for-11, four-game stretch that included a pair of home runs. The first baseman from Sedalia, Colo., has at least one hit in 11 of the last 12 games. His slash line of .397 average / .533 on-base percentage / .721 slugging is best on the team across the board. Geiger has boosted his on-base percentage with a team high eight hit-by-pitches.
- On the flip side, Concordia hurlers took a hit last week while surrendering 24 earned runs on 29 hits and 15 walks in the twin bill with Tabor. Starters Casey Hall and Neil Ryan combined for only three innings and were tagged for nine earned runs. Ryan is trying to regain the form he had last season when he went 4-2 with a 2.76 ERA over 45.2 innings as a freshman. His ERA in 2016 sits at 6.83 through 27.2 innings.
- After sitting out six games due to injury, center fielder Alex Alstott returned to the lineup last week. The native of Fort Dodge, Iowa, led the GPAC last season in slugging percentage, on-base percentage and triples. So far in 2016, he’s struck out 20 times in 48 at bats. Alstott also started slow in 2015, hitting .179 (5-for-28) over the first nine games. He then hit .404 (42-for-104) over his last 32 games of the campaign.
- Despite the cancelation of four games last week, the Bulldogs remain on track to fly by last year’s school single-season record of 289 runs scored. Concordia currently ranks 24th nationally with an average of 7.7 runs per contest. At that clip, assuming no additional cancelations, the Bulldogs are on pace for 393 runs in 2016. Concordia has already reached double figures in runs scored eight times this season.
- The team’s most effective starting pitcher has been right-hander Mark Harris, who sports a 2.20 ERA and 3-2 record across 28.2 innings. He also owns a Bulldog best 25 strikeouts. Harris did not pitch last week after last getting the ball on March 20 in game 1 of the doubleheader sweep of Grace University. Harris moved to the starting rotation this season after serving as one of the team’s top relievers in 2015.
- Barring poor weather conditions, a stretch of 10-straight days without a game will end on Saturday (1 p.m. CT) when Concordia hosts Dakota Wesleyan (12-9, 0-0 GPAC) to open its GPAC season. The Bulldogs will also be back at Plum Creek Park the following day when they welcome Briar Cliff (14-12, 0-0 GPAC) for a 1 p.m. first pitch. Both opponents qualified for the national tournament in 2015.