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NCAA grants former Bulldog Callie Nunes fifth year of athletic eligibility
Nunes Callie March 2023
Callie Nunes rejoined Concordia University Irvine’s softball team following an 18-month hiatus from the sport. The Ceres High School grad is one of the Eagles’ all-time greatest pitchers.

Callie Nunes couldn’t pass up the opportunity to play college softball again.

The 2017 Ceres High School grad rejoined Concordia University Irvine’s program following an 18-month hiatus from the sport.

Nunes was granted a fifth year of athletic eligibility in April of 2022 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the 2020-21 sports season.

“The head of NCAA Division II signed off on me coming back,” Nunes said. “It was a long process. Concordia had to appeal. It took a few extra weeks to get finalized.”

“I felt that chapter of my life wasn’t quite done,” she added. “I wanted to take this last chance and see what I could do with it.”

Nunes thought her college softball career was over following the 2021 season.

“My junior year of college was when COVID hit,” she said. “We found out we were getting an extra year of eligibility my senior year. At that point, I had been accepted to my Master’s program in Arizona.”

Nunes graduated with a Master’s in investigative journalism from Arizona State in December 2022.

“I wasn’t completely out of the softball world,” she said. “I was coaching a high school team in Scottsdale. I was able to see the sport from a coach’s perspective. It was definitely a mindset change.”

Nunes’ desire to compete again intensified after she reconnected with Concordia University head coach Crystal Rosenthal at the Stanislaus State Tournament this past spring in Turlock. 

“It started as a joke,” Nunes said. “She (Rosenthal) asked if I wanted to play. She ended up talking with NCAA compliance. I had one single semester of eligibility left after my Master’s program and it was this semester. I wanted to come back for a couple reasons. I didn’t want to have any what-ifs. I wanted to help the team win.”

“Being back on the field with Crystal and (Associate Head Coach) Rose (Imbriano) is really awesome. They’re a big reason why I decided to come back. Every person on the team had open arms. Crystal and Rose have cultivated an atmosphere of love and acceptance.”

Already considered one of Concordia University’s all-time greatest pitchers, Nunes has a different role on this year’s team.

“Coming back has been an interesting endeavor. “t’s been fun. It was an adjustment. I’m just as competitive as ever. The part that’s changed, there are eight pitchers on our team. There’s so much depth. Each pitcher has a different strength.  I’m able to play a different role this go around. I still want to win however that manifests.”

“I’m the only player on the team born before 2000,” Nunes added. “If people ask for advice, I give it. I don’t want people to assume I’m trying to throw weight around because I’m the oldest player on the team.”

Nunes compiled a 2-2 record with a 1.63 ERA, 37 strikeouts, eight walks and one save through Concordia University’s first 32 games (26-6, 14-2 PacWest) this spring. Opposing batters are hitting .179.

Nunes had surgery on her left knee, which has ailed her since sophomore year of college, during the summertime.

“When I first came back, my body was a little confused,” said Nunes, who had a season-high nine strikeouts during the host Eagles’ 5-2 victory over the Pace University Setters on March 13. “I lost 15 pounds after my surgery. I wasn’t as strong. I was skinnier. I’m getting back into the swing of things. It’s just a matter of repetition.”

A seven-time All-American pitcher during her first stint with Concordia University, Nunes amassed a 77-15 record with a 1.21 ERA, 717 strikeouts, 54 complete games, 26 shutouts, six no-hitters and 11 saves from 2018-21.

She ranks in the top 10 in more than 20 different categories in the Eagles’ record book.

Nunes set program records for career strikeouts (717) and career saves (11). Nunes is the only player in team history with 700-plus career strikeouts.

She ranks second in career wins, shutouts and no-hitters, and is tied for third with former teammate Grayson Harvey for most complete games (54).

Nunes was named PacWest Pitcher of the Week 12 times, the second-highest total for a pitcher in conference history.

She won the NFCA Freshman of the Year and D2CCA West Region Pitcher of the Year awards in 2018.

Nunes led all NCAA Division-II pitchers with 33 wins during the Eagles’ historic season in 2019 when Concordia University earned its first-ever No. 1 ranking in the D2 era. She totaled 266 strikeouts, posted a 1.34 ERA and tossed four no-hitters.

Nunes compiled a 12-3 record with a 1.71 ERA, 86 strikeouts, eight complete games and three saves as the 2021 Eagles went 34-13, advanced to the NCAA Division-II West Regional Championship and claimed the PacWest Southern California pod title. 

She ranked first on the team in wins, ERA, strikeouts, complete games, saves and innings pitched (1101/3).

Nunes was selected to the NFCA and D2CCA All-Region First Teams.

She was voted PacWest Pitcher of the Year for the third time.

She was named Concordia University’s Female Athlete of the Year at the Senior Legacy Banquet.

Nunes was an NFCA All-America Scholar-Athlete and Academic All-PacWest honoree every year.

Nunes played three seasons of varsity softball at Ceres High.

She helped propel the Bulldogs to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-III crown during her junior year in 2016, ending a 21-year drought between titles.

Nunes had a career record of 51-13 with 686 strikeouts, four no-hitters and 26 shutouts.