Four NCAA Div. III championships
OSKALOOSA — The small-ball attack produced big numbers for the Central College softball team as the Dutch handed Wis.-Eau Claire just its third loss in 15 games and did so in resounding fashion with a 9-1, five-inning triumph Saturday morning.
A scheduled second game against Gustavus Adolphus (Minn.) was cancelled because of rain.
Playing in chilly temperatures and a steady rain that began early and caused problems for pitchers on both squads, Central (16-5) extended its winning streak to seven games with a nine-hit attack that included seven singles. The Dutch also stole four bases and, for the second day in a row, designated player Karlee Rock (sophomore, Wheatland, Calamus-Wheatland HS) produced an unusual RBI by driving in a run from second base on a bunt single. She helped Central up its team batting mark to .323.
“We’re getting a real good mix of (small-ball) and some timely hits,” coach George Wares said. “We’ve got some kids who can run and if we can stay that consistent with our short game and also get some hits, we’re going to start becoming a pretty solid offensive team.”
Rock, who has shown promise as a power hitter, had two bunt singles.
“(The short game) has nothing to do with speed, it’s about placement,” Wares said. “We knew all along that Karlee handles the bat pretty well and hopefully this will give her a little confidence.”
Kelsey Stender (freshman, Belle Plaine) made an early relief appearance after Mallory Schulenberg (sophomore, Kansas City, Mo., St. Pius X HS) gave up two Wis.-Eau Claire singles to start the second inning.
“Mallory didn’t seem quite as sharp as she’d been,” Wares said. “We could have left her in there and she probably would have gotten out of it, but we’ve said with our depth, we’re not going to hesitate to make a change. (Pitching coach Gary Grimes) said Kelsey’s rise ball would be effective today so it was more of a gut feeling than anything.”
Stender (5-3) threw four innings, allowing only one hit but uncharacteristically walking three batters while fanning three.
“Obviously she was in some trouble due to the conditions, but I thought it was good that she could battle through that.”
Central broke on top with three runs in the first inning after starting with back-to-back walks. Rock’s bunt brought home two runs and freshman pinch-hitter Courtney Meyer (Newton) drove home another with a sacrifice fly.
Wis.-Eau Claire got its run in the second inning but the Dutch added another in the bottom of the inning on a run-scoring single by third baseman Whitney Sowers (sophomore, Marshalltown).
The Dutch closed it out with a five-run fifth that started with a double by shortstop Annie Sarcone (junior, Des Moines, Dowling Catholic HS), who later scored on a passed ball. Left fielder Heidi Reburn (senior, New Albin, Kee HS) brought home a run with a sacrifice bunt and first baseman Katie Canney (sophomore, Adel, ADM HS), who had two hits in the game, lined a two-run double in the left-center field gap. Left fielder Emily Te Brink (senior, Le Mars) ended it with a run-scoring hit to left-center.
Wis.-Eau Claire (12-3) was limited to four hits.
Central finished the weekend 3-0 after the second-game rainout.
“Obviously any time we don’t get to play it’s disappointing,” Wares said. “But we got a good win and now are able to get our players a little extra rest. We did a lot of things well but still have plenty to work on to get as prepared as we can be for the Iowa Conference season.”
The league slate opens with a jolt Wednesday as Central travels to Indianola to take on No. 14 Simpson College in a 4 p.m. twinbill. Simpson is 21-3 after rolling past Wis.-Eau Claire 4-1 and Gustavus Adolphus (Minn.) 3-2 Friday. Simpson ace Kacey Arey got the win in both games to improve to 15-2. But Wares said his team can’t spend time thinking about playing a nationally ranked foe.
“For us it’s just a matter of, this is our next opponent,” he said. “The Loras games next Saturday will be just as important as the Simpson games. But the only pitch that matters is the next one.”