Four NCAA Div. III championships
STORM LAKE — After pounding out 13 hits in a win in the opener, offense became a scare commodity in the nightcap before a 3-run 10th inning lifted the No. 6 Central College softball team to a 4-0, 4-2 sweep at Buena Vista Tuesday.
The sweep allows Central (30-6 overall, 11-3 Iowa Conference) to reach the 30-win mark for the 23rd time, and the fourth year in a row.
Buena Vista’s Chancey Wilcke threw both games but found her groove in the nightcap, holding the Dutch hitless until the fifth inning.
“She just had us pounding the ball into the dirt and the infield made some really good plays behind her,” coach George Wares said. “I was impressed with the way Buena Vista played.”
The Dutch broke on top in the fifth as shortstop Annie Sarcone’s (sophomore, Des Moines, Dowling Catholic HS) leadoff single led to a run. But Buena Vista tied it in the sixth.
Mallory Schulenberg (freshman, Kansas City, Mo., St. Pius X HS), entered in relief of Rhianna Fleetwood (junior, Sycamore, Ill.) with two runners on and one out in the eighth inning and got a double play to end the threat. Fleetwood had followed starter Brie Haycraft (sophomore, Eldridge, North Scott HS).
Central finally broke through in the 10th as catcher Kyrie Hale (senior, Lee’s Summit, Mo., West HS) singled home the go-ahead run. Center fielder Holly Von Fumetti (senior, Johnston) also had an RBI single.
Buena Vista (16-14 overall, 6-8 conference) loaded the bases in the 10th and scored once before Haycraft re-entered to close out the game and pick up her fourth save, as Central avoided its first loss to the Beavers since 2004.
Haycraft allowed one run on five hits in 6.1 innings with no walks and three strikeouts. Fleetwood yielded a hit and two walks in 1.2 innings. Schulenberg (9-0) recorded the win with 2.0 innings of relief, allowing a run on three hits with no walks and three strikeouts. Buena Vista outhit Central 9-8.
Fleetwood (12-2) fired a two-hit shutout in the opener, with no walks and four strikeouts.
“Rhianna gave up a single to the first hitter, but the next five innings were complete domination,” Wares said. “She threw really well. I was happy with how all three of our pitchers threw.”
First baseman Jordan Overland (sophomore, Madrid, Boone HS) had three hits while designated player Abbey Strajack (freshman, Davenport, Assumption HS), third baseman Whitney Sowers (freshman, Marshalltown) and second baseman Angela Davis (senior, West Des Moines, Valley HS) each had two hits.
The Dutch got a lift with the return of right fielder Emily Te Brink (junior, Le Mars). She was struck in the face by a pitch Saturday against Simpson College, but was able to play with a protective mask. She had a hit and two RBIs on the day.
Central wraps up the conference slate and closes its regular-season home schedule Saturday with a 2 p.m. doubleheader against Loras College at the A.N. Kuyper Athletics Complex field. A video webcast and live stats for the games can be accessed at www.central.edu/athletics. Central has won eight games in a row over the Duhawks, who are 17-15 overall and 6-8 in the conference after splitting a doubleheader with Dubuque Tuesday.