Four NCAA Div. III championships
TUCSON, ARIZ.— Brie Haycraft (senior, Eldridge, North Scott HS) and Trisha Smith (sophomore, New Hampton) posted back-to-back five-inning shutouts as the No. 4 Central College softball team extended its pitchers’ season-opening scoreless innings streak to 22 Saturday.
Meanwhile the Central offense cranked out 28 hits in 10 innings, including a school-record 18 hits in a 14-0 rout of Marian (Wis.), before also making quick work of Crown (Minn.), 8-0.
Haycraft (2-0) allowed just one baserunner against Marian, on a one-out bloop single to left field in the third inning. She had one strikeout. Coach George Wares called it a much sharper effort than she turned in Friday.
“It sounds simplistic, but Brie just had much better command,” he said. “There were a lot more 0-1 counts versus 1-0 counts. Any pitcher that does that is more effective and Brie was definitely there today. It was close to a perfect game, take away the bloop single.”
Smith had a more uneven performance against Crown but still notched her first collegiate win in her first start after picking up her first save Friday. She scattered three hits and pitched around three Dutch errors, walking one and striking out five.
Shortstop Annie Sarcone (senior, Des Moines, Dowling Catholic HS) is off to a torrid start. She had five hits and eight RBIs Saturday, including a pair of doubles and a three-run homer against Crown that she rocketed far beyond the left-field fence. She’s hitting .615 with 12 RBIs in four games.
“Annie’s seeing the ball really well,” Wares said. “She’s having a much better start compared to last year. She’s playing the way an all-American plays.”
The Dutch again got contributions up and down the lineup. Second baseman Abbey Strajack (junior, Davenport, Assumption HS) is also hitting .615. She had four hits and scored four runs Saturday. Katie Canney (junior, Adel, ADM HS), making the transition to catcher after starting at first base last year, had four hits, while third baseman Whitney Sowers (junior, Marshalltown) and left fielder Jordan Overland (senior, Boone) each had three.
Central’s 18 hits against Marian topped the school mark of 17 established against Midland (Neb.) in 1993 and tied against Upper Iowa in 1994.
Records aside, Wares was less enthused with the first four innings against Crown Saturday.
“We weren’t horrible but I thought we just took a step backwards,” he said, pointing to some defensive misadventures. “The wind was a factor but we’ll have that in Pella. It’s certainly not that unusual to have an extremely windy day in Pella.”
But the Dutch finished with a flurry after taking a 3-0 lead into the bottom of the fifth, ending the game with a five-run frame capped by a two-run double from transfer first baseman Kaitlyn Matzen (junior, Manly, Central Springs HS).
Wares also knows the schedule will soon take a nasty turn as his squad faces one of the more challenging stretches it has seen in recent years. That starts Sunday, when the Dutch tackle Denison (Ohio) at 1:30 p.m. (Pacific Daylight Time). The Big Red was 23-15 a year ago and has a veteran squad returning. Central then plays Marian (Wis.) again at 3:30 p.m. before taking on Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (Calif.) and Wis.-La Crosse Monday.
“We’ll get challenged more and more as the week goes on,” Wares said. “Denison is a senior-dominated team and will be our toughest game to this point. And Marian will be better than what we saw today. They’ll probably throw their top pitcher. It won’t be 14-0.”
There will be an audio webcast of Sunday’s Denison game at 3:30 p.m. Central Time via www.kniakrls.com. Highly regarded KRLS sportscaster Trevor Castle will call the action.