Four NCAA Div. III championships
PELLA — With the Central College offense in need of a spark, catcher Caitlyn Meyer (senior, Newton) delivered a five-hit day that included a tiebreaking home run to power the Dutch to a 2-0, 10-3 softball sweep of Buena Vista University Monday.
The Dutch were limited to just one hit, a Meyer single, in the first four innings of a scoreless opener when she led off the fifth by hammering a 1-1 pitch over the right field fence for her fifth homer of the season and the 13th of her career, putting her fifth on the school’s all-time list. Right fielder Emily Te Brink (senior, Le Mars) followed with an RBI single later in the inning for the only tallies of the game.
Meanwhile pitchers Mallory Schulenberg (sophomore, Kansas City, Mo., St. Pius X HS) and Kelsey Stender (freshman, Belle Plaine, Minn.) combined on a three-hit shutout. Schulenberg threw the first 4.2 innings, yielding two hits and two walks with four strikeouts while Stender (8-3) got the win, throwing the final 2.1 innings. She allowed a hit and a walk with one strikeout.
No. 17 Central (23-6 overall, 7-1 Iowa Conference) was coming off a disappointing 5-3 setback in a doubleheader split with the University of Dubuque Saturday and coach George Wares knew Buena Vista (11-15 overall, 2-6 conference) was equally capable of spoiling his team’s day.
“You never know for sure how a team is going to respond to something like that,” Wares said. “And Monday games are always difficult because you don’t have a day of practice before you play. But we got the pitching and defense that was missing in the latter part of the game Saturday against Dubuque. I was really happy that we were errorless and I thought both Mallory and Kelsey pitched well. And obviously that was a big hit by Caitlyn.”
Offense was not nearly as scarce in the nightcap as the teams combined for 24 hits. Central’s 13-hit attack was led by Meyer, who had three. She was 5-for-5 on the day as her hot streak continued and her batting average surged to .426, second on the team to injured second baseman Abbey Strajack (sophomore, Davenport, Assumption HS).
The Dutch jumped on top with a four-run first, highlighted by a three-run homer by designated player Karlee Rock (sophomore, Wheatland, Calamus-Wheatland HS). Rock, who also delivered a run-scoring hit and walked, had four RBIs. Rapidly improving second baseman Chelsea Greiner (junior, Agency, Cardinal HS) was 2-for-2 with a pair of runs scored to go with some solid glove work and third baseman Whitney Sowers (sophomore, Marshalltown) had two doubles along with two RBIs and two runs scored.
The Dutch pitching staff and defense were not as sharp as the temperatures plummeted on the chilly afternoon. Stender gave up three unearned runs on five hits with no walks and a strikeout in 2.1 innings. Schulenberg (11-1) got the win, going 2.2 innings and also allowing five hits but no runs with no walks and a strikeout. Brie Haycraft (junior, Eldridge, North Scott HS) and Rhianna Fleetwood (senior, Sycamore, Ill.) each tossed an inning of scoreless relief.
“It was important that Brie and Rhianna had good innings for us,” Wares said.
Buena Vista finished with 11 hits and Central committed three errors, allowing the Beavers to climb within 4-3 in the third inning before pulling away.
Central is slated to take on No. 15 Coe College in a key league twinbill at Cedar Rapids Wednesday at 3 p.m. The Kohawks (25-3 overall, 7-1 conference) pounded Simpson College at Indianola Monday, 14-2 and 13-3.