Cobber Dome Tournament Tussle

Freshman Caitlin Culleton gets ready to hit the ball during the Cobbers' game with Finlandia. She went 2-for-2 in the game and hit .333 for the 2-day tournament.
Freshman Caitlin Culleton gets ready to hit the ball during the Cobbers' game with Finlandia. She went 2-for-2 in the game and hit .333 for the 2-day tournament.

STORY LINE: Concordia split their final two games on Day 2 at the annual Cobber Dome tournament after starting the 4-game invite by dropping a pair of 3-0 decisions. Concordia lost 3-0 to Bethany Lutheran and Finlandia on Wednesday and then turned around and beat Finlandia 2-1 on Thursday before ending the tournament with a 12-5 loss to Division II Bemidji State.

RECORDS: Concordia's 1-3 record at the Dome Tournament brings their overall mark to the .500 level at 7-7. CC is now 17-11 in the seven years they have been hosting the games at the West St. Paul Dome.

BETHANY LUTHERAN RECAP: Concordia struggled in the batter's box in the opener of the tournament as they were held without a hit, or a base runner, until there were two outs in the top of the seventh inning. The Bethany Lutheran pitcher had a perfect game going until Elizabeth Asp doubled down the left field line. The Vikings scored their three runs with single-score frames in the second, fifth and sixth frames. Cobber pitcher Megan Gavin struck out five and allowed six hits.

FINLANDIA 1 RECAP: The Cobbers ran into another outstanding pitching performance in their second game on Wednesday. Concordia was able to get more runners on the bases but never came up with a run as they fell 3-0. Finlandia scored all three runs in the first inning and then pitcher Denia Bent made that hold up as CC put runners on third base on only two occasions. Freshman Caitlin Culleton went 2-for-2 from her No.9 spot in the order while senior pitcher Kelly Riordan only allowed one earned run and four hits in six innings of work.

FINLANDIA 2 RECAP: Concordia rode the arm of pitcher Megan Gavin to their win in the opener on Day 2. Gavin struck out 10 Finlandia batters and gave up just two hits as she went the distance to record the win. Both teams scored single runs on very strange, and identical, circumstances in the first inning. Both teams got the runner who would come around to score on base by a throwing error after an attempted bunt down the third base line. Both teams would then put runners on second and third and score when the third strike was dropped and the catcher threw the ball to first base to record the out. In both instances, the runner on third broke for home and was safe to score the run.

The Cobbers came up with the game-winning run in the bottom of the fourth inning when Brooke Swarthout walked with the bases loaded and freshman Madison Kostelecky came home from third base.

BEMIDJI STATE RECAP: The last game of the tournament was the lone offensive explosion of the two days as the teams combined for 17 runs and 20 hits. The Cobbers took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first and then the Beavers tied the game with a single score in the bottom of the inning. Bemidji State would then break the game open with a 9-run third inning. The biggest blow was a 1-out grand slam. Concordia then countered with four runs in the fourth before BSU finished off the scoring with a pair of runs in the bottom of the fifth. The biggest hit for CC in the fourth was a 2-out, 2-run single off the bat of freshman Maria Pake.

TURN UP THE AC: Elizabeth Asp and Caitlin Culleton led the Cobber offense in the four games. They both hit .333 in multiple-game appearances. Asp was 3-for-9 and had a single hit in all three games she played. Culleton went 2-for-6 in her two games. Asp is now second on the team in hitting with a .481 average and she has at least one hit in all 10 games she has played. Her 10-game hitting streak is the longest of the season for any CC player. Culleton continues to hit .333 in her first collegiate season. She played in six games and has four hits.

FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH: Concordia started six freshmen as position players in their game against Bemidji State and those six first-year players combined to record six of the team's seven hits. Maria Pake and Madison Kostelecky both went 2-for-3. Pake had a pair of RBI while Kostlecky drove in one run. The other three rookie starters were Culleton, Callie AhlgrenMadison Terlinden and Emily Bukkila. Pake continues to lead the team in batting with a .489 average. Pake and Kostelecky are two of the three Cobber players who have played in all 14 games this season. Kostelecky leads the team with 12 RBI.

GAVIN WATCH: Sophomore pitcher Megan Gavin pitched in three of the four games. She allowed five earned runs in 16.0 innings pitched and fanned 16 batters. Gavin has a team-leading 1.72 ERA for the season and has struck out 76 batters. Her strikeout total matches her season mark from last year when she had 26.2 more innings pitched and finished with a 3.43 ERA.  

UP NEXT: Concordia's schedule has the Cobbers hosting Mayville State on Tuesday, Mar. 26 but those games will be pushed back to a later date. CC will then open MIAC play when they travel to Minneapolis to take on Augsburg on Saturday, Mar. 30 at 1 p.m.