(Ann Arbor, MI) Concordia Softball started the season off strong down south, played well within the WHAC, and ended their season in unfortunate fashion in the WHAC Tournament. The season was highlighted with a strong senior class that was Coach Greg Brierley's first recruiting class. Many of the Cardinals' top players were recognized for their play on the field and many records were set along the way.
The Cardinals started off just as hot as it was down south during their spring trip. They were able to post a 12-3 record over the duration of the trip and come back home with an impressive .308 (batting avg.) /.371 (on base %) /.467 (slugging %) as a team. Concordia defeated several NAIA teams that were receiving votes as well as NCAA D2 Bemidji State University. Cheyenne Brierley (SR/Milan, MI) (SR/Milan, MI) dominated on the mound earning 5 wins with her 43 strikeouts and .219 opponent batting average. Amy Trionfi (JR/Allen Park, MI) (JR/Allen Park, MI) and Samantha Capuzzi (SO/Temecula, CA) (SO/Temecula, CA) were a powerful one-two punch at the top of the order and Lindsey Pyle (JR/Pelham, AL) (JR/Pelham, AL) was perfect in the outfield without error. By the end of the trip they received Concordia Softball's first ever national ranking.
WHAC Regular Season
Concordia came back home clicking on all cylinders, but the weather put a damper on that, causing them to go 27 days without a game. This forced Concordia to play a total of 22 games in 17 days. The Lady Cards won 10 of their first 14 regular season games, with the four losses coming from an early road trip to UNOH and a home doubleheader against 11th ranked Davenport. Most of their wins in the first half of the season were by a margin of three runs or more. The remainder of the regular season proved to be tougher, as the Cards only won half of their eight games. The Cardinals would finish with an 11-7 record in the WHAC and have a total of 31 wins, which is the first time Concordia softball has had over 30 wins in the past 15 years. Their seven conference losses all came to teams in the top half of the WHAC (Davenport, Madonna, U-M Dearborn, and UNOH). The Cardinals' 11-7 record was good enough to place them fourth in the WHAC overall.
As the fourth seed in the WHAC Tournament, Concordia was slotted to play sixth ranked Siena Heights, whom they had swept in a doubleheader less than a week before the tournament. Samantha Eubanks (FR/Lomita, CA) (FR/Lomita, CA) pitched a solid outing, going five innings deep and only allowing one run in the third, but Concordia's bats were just as cold as Siena's. That one run proved to be enough for Siena Heights even after Jessica England (SO/Fowlerville, MI) (SO/Fowlerville, MI) pitched two scoreless innings in relief. The Cardinals totaled only six hits in the first round game as the offense could not figure out Kelsie Abbot of Siena Heights.
Now in the losers' bracket, Concordia was set to face eighth seed, Lourdes University, who had only won five games in the WHAC regular season. Cheyenne Brierley took the mound for the Cardinals and gave up one run in the second inning and two in the fourth. In the third inning Brierley gave herself some run support, hitting in Samantha Capuzzi and Jessica Barjaktarovich (SR/Richmond, MI) (SR/Richmond, MI) with a single. Samantha Capuzzi hit a solo shot to left field to tie the game in the fifth, but the Gray Wolves were able to plate two more runs in the bottom of the fifth to regain the lead. The Cardinals offense was unable to produce in the last two innings, scoring no runs, resulting in a 3-5 loss to Lourdes. Lourdes would go on to lose to Davenport in the championship, but were still able to earn a bid to nationals because Davenport received their bid for winning the regular season.
Season Team Leaders
Batting Avg. .380 Amy Trionfi
On Base % .420 Amy Trionfi
Slugging % .627 Samantha Capuzzi
Hits 62 Amy Trionfi
Runs 46 Amy Trionfi
Home Runs 7 Samantha Capuzzi
Extra Base Hits 23 Samantha Capuzzi
Stolen Bases 16 Jenna Lowney (FR/Novi, MI) (FR/Novi, MI)
Putouts 281 Elizabeth Barkel (SO/Clinton, MI) (SO/Clinton, MI)
Assists 310 Elizabeth Barkel
Wins 9 Cheyenne Brierley
ERA 1.73 Cheyenne Brierley
Opp. Batting Avg. .233 Cheyenne Brierley
Strike Outs 67 Jessica England
Awards and Records
Several players on the Concordia softball team were recognized for their outstanding play throughout the season by WHAC coaches, who elected them for All-Conference honors. A record number of seven Cardinals were given a total of nine conference awards.
Cheyenne Brierley was nominated to First Team All-Conference for her work on the mound, collecting 10 wins from the 17 games she started. She finished the regular season with an ERA of 1.59 and opposing batters hit .228 against her. Cheyenne also received All-Defensive Team recognition for her time behind the plate as a catcher, recording 141 put outs and a .966 fielding percentage. After four seasons with the Cards, Cheyenne will leave her mark in the record books for all-time stats as she graduates. She is fourth in career hits (178), ninth in doubles (30), and fourth in RBIs (92).
After a strong freshman campaign Samantha Capuzzi continued to impress by making First Team All-Conference this year. After being named WHAC Player of the Week early in the season, she capped of the regular season with an impressive stat line (.370/.413/.616). Capuzzi managed to bat .370 while hitting for power (6 home runs 2 triples, and 14 doubles). She is already fourth in career home runs for Concordia after two seasons with nine total homers. Samantha was also recognized for her prowess in center field by being named to the All-Defensive Team. With the "strongest arm" that Coach Brierley has ever seen for an outfielder, Capuzzi was able to record 53 putouts and 8 assists throughout the regular season. Samantha is highly ranked in single season statistics as well. Capuzzi is ninth in hits with 57, ninth in runs (37), seventh in RBIs (36), seventh in doubles (14), and 3rd in home runs (7).
Amy Trionfi did substantial damage for the Cardinals at the top of the lineup and was named to the First Team All-Conference by the coaches of the WHAC. Trionfi was one of the best leadoff hitters in the league posting an average of .387. The shortstop also hit for power, knocking 5 out of the park, along with 3 triples and 13 doubles during the regular season. Trionfi hit her way into the record books for many single season statistics. Amy is fourth in hits (62), second in runs (46), seventh in doubles (14), and fifth in home runs (5). She also has several impressive career statistics. The junior is seventh in batting average (.333), fifth in runs (103), ninth in hits (154), fifth in doubles (34), eighth in triples (8), seventh in home runs (8), and fourth in slugging percentage (.494).
A few other players made it into the Concordia record books this spring. Lindsey Pyle hit six home runs to be fourth in single season home runs for Concordia. Pyle is also eighth in career doubles (31), fourth in career home runs (9), and ninth in career slugging percentage (.460). Jenna Lowney swiped 16 bags this season, and that was enough to put her at seventh overall for single season stolen bases. Jessica Barjaktarovich (SR/Richmond, MI) has her name in the books for several career statistics. She is third in stolen bases (39), eighth in walks (46), and ninth in fielding assists (286). Corrina Rotondo (SR/Walled Lake, MI) holds many records for career pitching stats. Corrina is sixth in wins (30), fifth in games started (54), and seventh in innings pitched (302).
Concordia Athletics works hard to promote academics and takes pride in the accomplishments of student-athletes in the classroom. This year three seniors were honored with being named to the WHAC All-Academic Team. Jessica Barjaktarovich, Hunter Churchill (SR/Dundee, MI) (SR/Dundee, MI), and Victoria Shaddock (SR/Romeo, MI) (SR/Romeo, MI) were all recognized for their success both on the field and in the classroom. All three of these players are two time recipients and have helped Coach Brierley set a high standard for academics.
Brittany Linse (SR/South Lyon, MI) (SR/South Lyon, MI) was also recognized for her spirit of competition through the Champions of Character Award. Coach Brierley says "Her life consists of school, softball, working three jobs, and being a servant leader as she is always willing to help anyone out at any time. She is a happy-go-lucky individual and has taught me so much in the five years I have known her."
Softball Program Direction by Coach Brierley
This year's senior class was the coaching staff's first recruiting class, so that made this a special group of ladies. Coach said, "They were leaders on and off the field, and players looked up to them." He accredits this year's success to the hard work put in in the offseason and the "TEAM" coming together in January. "They worked hard in the classroom to allow them to spend time on the practice field during practice and setting up individual times with coaches. Each player fit into their roles very well, picked up players that were down, and stepped in when needed. The TEAM understood the definition of Success!!!"
Coach Brierley knows that losing seven great players and leaders (his seniors) will be a challenge, but he believes that the "TEAM" will be able to bounce back, better than ever. "The expectations are high. The attitudes going into this summer are high, and the incoming Cardinals are excited to get on campus, start their education, and get on the softball field to show the graduating seniors they will continue the success the seniors started 4 years ago moving forward
Coach is very excited about his fifth recruiting class that will be joining the team this year. "Let's just say the talent here is unbelievable. Two have won high school State Championships, four are First Team All-State members, and all the rest have received high school and state honors for their softball programs." He is certain that they are all "ready to show that they can play collegiate softball." To see this year's recruiting class, click here.
The Cardinals will have notable experience coming back for them as well, as they have seven returning starters. Add in the other returning players, that "are ready to step in," and you will find a veteran team that is ready to welcome in the newcomers.
As Coach Brierley said, "The future for CUAA Softball is looking good!"
Matt Korte, a CUAA sophomore, majoring in Sport and Entertainment Business and a student worker for the Cardinal athletic department contributed to the contents of this article.