Four NCAA Div. III championships
WAVERLY — Third baseman Whitney Sowers (sophomore, Marshalltown), shortstop Annie Sarcone (junior, Des Moines, Dowling Catholic HS) and designated player Karlee Rock (sophomore, Wheatland, Calamus-Wheatland HS) each pounded out four hits as the No. 19 Central College softball team made quick work of Wartburg College Saturday, winning 13-0 in five innings and 6-0.
The Dutch (25-6 overall, 9-1 Iowa Conference) have won 16 times in their past 17 games. They took command early with three first-inning runs in both contests. Central had 13 hits in the opener, putting the game away with a seven-run uprising in the fifth inning. Sowers was 4-for-4 with four RBIs, belting a pair of doubles. Rock belted a double and her second home run of the year to drive in three runs while Sarcone also brought three home on a hit and sacrifice fly.
Central flashed its pitching depth. Mallory Schulenberg (sophomore, St. Pius X HS, Kansas City, Mo.) and Kelsey Stender (freshman, Belle Plaine, Minn.), who had started the squad’s previous conference games, got a break. Brie Haycraft (junior, Eldridge, North Scott HS) started the opener, giving up a run on four hits and a walk with one strikeout in 2.1 innings. Courtney Meyer (freshman, Newton) tossed the final 2.2 innings, with no runs on two hits and a walk with one strikeout. Haycraft improved to 3-2.
Senior Rhianna Fleetwood (Sycamore, Ill.) took the ball in the nightcap as she and Meyer combined on a three-hit shutout. Fleetwood (2-0) yielded two hits and a walk with three strikeouts in 4.2 innings. Meyer gave up one hit and a walk with one strikeout in 2.1 innings.
Central had 10 hits, scoring three runs in the first and third innings and taking advantage of four Wartburg errors. Sarcone had three hits, including a double, driving in a run and scoring two. Rock also had a double and finished with two hits. Right fielder Emily Te Brink (senior, Le Mars) stole a team-high 16th base.
Coach George Wares made liberal use of his bench and left fielder Lexi Cessna (junior, Bloomington, Ill., Normal HS) responded with her first collegiate double.
“We did what we had to do,” Wares said. “It was good we got a lot of other players in, yet we stayed pretty sharp defensively. We made a lot of nice plays and, in fact, we ended both games with double plays.”
The Dutch remain on the road, traveling to Cedar Rapids for one of the league season’s biggest challenges as they face No. 13 Coe College Sunday at 2 p.m. The Kohawks are a lofty 27-3 overall and 9-1 in the league after an 8-1, 6-3 road sweep at Loras College Saturday. Coe’s lone league loss was to No. 9 Luther College.
It’s a battle for first place but Wares isn’t focusing on that aspect of the day.
“Once the game starts, we are not thinking about that,” he said. “It’s just playing one pitch at a time like we have the whole season.”