Central scores lopsided softball wins

Central College

TUCSON, ARIZ.—The Central College softball win streak reached nine games with a 9-2 triumph over Augsburg College (Minn.) and a 13-5, six-inning victory over Robert Morris-Chicago (Ill.) Thursday.

The process was at times untidy, but the results satisfactory for coach George Wares as the Dutch (9-1) resumed action in the Tucson Invitational Games after a day off.

“It wasn’t pretty but on these trips, you’ve got to find a way to win games like this,” he said.

There were a combined 16 errors in the two contests, including four Central miscues. But the Dutch offense was again more than able to compensate, racking up another 24 hits in the two games.

And it only took one swing by shortstop Emily Wilson (sophomore, Bondurant, Bondurant-Farrar HS) to turn the Robert Morris-Chicago game around. Her towering grand slam to left center highlighted a seven-run fourth inning uprising that swung a 4-2 deficit to a 9-2 Dutch lead. Central added a run in the fifth and closed out the game with a three-run sixth inning. Even after Robert Morris-Chicago used a two-run homer to fuel a three-run third inning and a 4-2 lead, there was no panic from Wares or his club.

“I didn’t know that we’d score another nine or 10 but I was confident we’d score runs,” Wares said.

Annie DeVries (junior, Eldridge, North Scott HS) pitched in the last inning of the opener with Augsburg in relief of Mariah Fritz (sophomore, Tama, East Marshall HS) and went the distance in the nightcap as Wares declared No. 1 starter Karly Olson (senior, Winterset) off-limits for the day. Olson pitched each of the first four days on the trip and will likely be needed the next three.

DeVries (4-0) yielded two walks before getting the final two outs against Augsburg, then labored through six innings in the nightcap, allowing three earned runs on 10 hits with a walk and a strikeout, while throwing 85 pitches. Wares was grateful she didn’t need to throw even more.

“I was really happy we got it done in six innings and not have to have her have to throw another 20 pitches,” he said.

And he considered her performance more than adequate, albeit not her best.

“She had a lot of 1-0 and 2-0 counts but I was really happy with the way she battled through it and was able to scatter the hits,” Wares said.

Fritz (3-0) is still working on conditioning after missing time last year with injury, so Wares anticipated she might need relief help. Fritz threw 6.1 innings, surrendering two unearned runs on three hits with three walks and six strikeouts.

Center fielder Sara Tallman (freshman, Pella) had her most productive day at the plate in her seven-day career, with five hits. She scored three runs and stole her team-high eighth base as the Dutch swiped eight bases on the day. Wares likes how her offensive game is diversifying.

“It seems like she bunted 90 percent of the time in high school, and that’s not always going to work in college,” Wares said. “But when the corners charge in, she’s got the ability to slap it through.”

Left fielder Tabitha Taylor (junior, Grimes, Dallas Center-Grimes HS) had four hits, three runs scored and three RBIs but Wares was most impressed with her defense as the converted second baseman is starting to exhibit star qualities as an outfielder.

“She’s become a really good outfielder,” Wares said. “She makes good decisions and gets a good jump on balls. Before we’re done, we’re going to have an outfield that will take base hits away from people. That’s not something we’ve had in a while.”

First baseman Abbie Voas (senior, Chanhassen, Minn.) and Olson had three hits. Voas knocked in three runs and scored two.

“Abbie’s very consistent,” Wares said. “If the pitcher makes a mistake, she’s going to do a lot with it. And she handles the short game well.”

For third baseman Lauren Bagby (sophomore, Norwalk), the mantra was a familiar one in her bid to come off the injured list: one more day. Wares was hoping she would be 100 percent for Thursday’s games. She wasn’t and so she sat, he said. He’s hoping she makes her 2017 debut Friday, but isn’t making promises. Meanwhile freshman Amanda Sigulas (Morton, Ill.) continues adjusting as Bagby’s replacement at third base.

“Amanda’s doing a lot of good things,” Wares said. “There are still some plays she’s not making but she hasn’t had a whole lot of practice time at third base yet.”

He’d also like to see her at her preferred position as catcher but as long as Bagby’s out, that job is shouldered capably by Kylie Olson (sophomore, Mapleton, Minn., Maple River HS).

“You’ve got to give Kylie a lot of credit,” Wares said. “She’s caught a lot of innings and is giving us some quality at-bats.”

The three days ahead in Tucson could be the most challenging. The first of three meetings with Hamline (Minn.) is at 9 a.m. (Pacific Daylight Time) Friday, followed by an 11 a.m. contest with Trinity University (Texas).

Hamline knocked off Suffolk (Mass.) Thursday to improve to 3-0 heading into a late-day contest with Mayville State (N.D.). The Pipers are picked to place fourth in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletics Conference.

“Hamline is solid,” Wares said. “They’ve got a very good returning pitcher.”

Trinity took a 7-11 record into Thursday’s game, enduring a brutal schedule that includes a pair of losses to No. 1-ranked Texas-Tyler.

“Trinity is very athletic,” he said. “They’ve got solid pitching and they don’t beat themselves.

“They’ve played a really, really good schedule. They’re a solid team and going to make you beat them.”

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