The Eagles softball team completed a remarkable 2022 season in which it began 36-0, tied for the sixth-longest undefeated start to a season in NCAA DII history, and were ranked No. 1 in the nation in DII for a while.
“We’ve never started like this before,” says Crystal Rosenthal, whose 14-year leadership as a coach (and now also Concordia athletics director) has helped establish the softball team as a consistent winner. “We were firing on all cylinders. We pitched really well, hit well, and played really good defense.”
The first surprise came when the Eagles won two early tournaments—the Concordia Kickoff Classic, the biggest tournament on the West Coast, and the Desert Stinger in Arizona—without losing a game. “We’ve never done that before,” the coach says
The string of 36 straight wins continued in spite of a “really difficult schedule” to start with, which included wins over Chico State, and wins against Colorado Mesa, Biola, and Azusa Pacific, all strong teams.
Even though the team’s top two pitchers from the previous year had graduated, the wins kept piling up, and “people were starting to tweet about it in the softball world and wonder what was going on, on campus. There was a nice buzz around our program,” Rosenthal says.
Pitcher Megan Massa, who will return next year, was named PacWest Player of the Year. Standout pitchers Erika Morris and Katlin Entrup helped the Eagles notch one of the lowest ERAs in the country all year long.
The Eagles won the PacWest conference and hosted the regional NCAA DII tournament West Regional for the fourth time in five years.
Experts had projected the team to place second or third in the conference. Instead, the Eagles won the PacWest conference and hosted the regional NCAA DII tournament West Regional for the fourth time in five years. Surging into the post-season, their season came to a halt with a loss to Cal State Dominguez Hills, which went all the way to the championship game and finished No. 2 in the nation.
Concordia finished 46-10 overall, going 29-3 in the conference and winning the PacWest Conference title for the third straight full season. To make it more special, the conference-winning victory was also Rosenthal’s 600th career win.
“It was a really cool experience to go through with the team,” says Rosenthal about that specific accolade and their broader success. “Nobody can take away the magic of the season. It didn’t end like we wanted, but now our players understand what it takes to get there and win. All who come back have a chance to build on that and see if we can’t do a little bit better next year.”