Four NCAA Div. III championships
PELLA—A two-out home run from third baseman Whitney Sowers (sophomore, Marshalltown) sparked a six-run first inning as the No. 17 Central College softball team toppled the University of Dubuque in five innings, 10-2, and split an Iowa Conference doubleheader Saturday.
Dubuque rallied in the nightcap, 5-3, creating a four-way tie for first place in the league standings. Central moved to 21-6 overall with Dubuque at 11-11, No. 15 Coe at 23-3 and No. 9 Luther at 18-4. All four squads are 5-1 in conference action.
Sowers, who went 3-for-5 for the day, belted her solo shot over the right-field fence. Shortstop Annie Sarcone (junior, Des Moines, Dowling Catholic HS) followed with a double to left field and scored on single from designated player Rhianna Fleetwood (senior, Sycamore, Ill.), evening the score at 2-2.
“Whitney gave us a boost and opened things up for the players after her,” coach George Wares said. “She hit the ball well today and is playing with confidence in the field.”
Pinch hitter Karlee Rock (sophomore, Wheatland, Calamus-Wheatland HS) continued the scoring barrage with a two-run single and pinch runner Heidi Reburn (senior, New Albin, Kee HS) scored on a throwing error before first baseman Katie Canney (sophomore, Adel, ADM HS), who also had three hits on the day, capped the six-run inning with a homer over the center-field fence.
Central tacked on a four-run fourth frame with two outs. Fleetwood brought in a run on a walk before catcher Caitlyn Meyer (senior, Newton) delivered a three-run double to center field.
Sophomore pitcher Mallory Schulenberg (Kansas City, St. Pius X HS) improved to 10-1, surrendering two earned runs in four innings with two strikeouts and a walk. Brie Haycraft (junior, Eldridge, North Scott HS) tossed the fifth inning and allowed one hit.
The Dutch jumped to a 2-0 lead in the nightcap, scoring two runs on a passed ball in the first inning. The Spartans tied the score in the fifth with the help of two Central errors.
“We left runners on base and didn’t make plays,” Wares said. “We gave Dubuque life and they took advantage of it.”
With two outs in the seventh and a Dubuque runner on first, Central intentionally walked the Spartans’ leading hitter. But Dubuque right-fielder Susan Danielewski delivered a three-run blast over the left-field fence, her first home run of the year, for a 5-2 lead.
Central’s Sowers again brought an offensive spark in the bottom half of the frame with a two-out double to left field. Sarcone drove her in with a left-field shot but Dubuque forced a foul out to end the game. The Dutch stranded eight runners in the game.
“We showed some intensity in the seventh but if we would have maintained the lead we wouldn’t have had to worry like we did,” Wares said. “We depend on our defense and it let us down.”
Haycraft (2-2) suffered the loss, giving up one earned run on three hits in 1.2 innings. She stuck out one. Central’s starter, Kelsey Stender (freshman, Belle Plaine, Minn.), allowed two runs on three hits while walking a pair and striking out three in 4.2 innings. Schulenberg closed the game and yielded two runs on two runs in two-thirds of an inning with one walk.
Central comes back Monday, taking on Buena Vista University in a 3 p.m. league doubleheader at the A.N. Kuyper Athletics Complex field in Pella. The Beavers were swept by Luther Saturday, 2-0 and 10-0 (5 inn.), and dropped to 11-13 overall with a 2-4 conference record.
“Buena Vista is much like Dubuque and we can’t take anyone lightly,” Wares said. “Hopefully a loss like this wakes us up a bit. We have to find a way to finish games against every team.”