Central rallies past Trinity to extend softball streak
TUCSON, ARIZ.—Karly Olson (senior, Winterset) is a difference-maker in the pitching circle but it was her furious dash to first base that made the Central College softball team a winner Friday.
Olson, who tossed a four-hit, five-inning 8-0 shutout of Hamline University (Minn.) earlier Friday morning, was up in a key bases-loaded two-out spot in the fifth inning after Trinity University (Texas) had tied the nightcap 3-3. Olson sent a hard ground ball in the hole at shortstop and outraced the throw to first by a step, allowing the go-ahead score. Second baseman Paige Dickel (junior, Norwalk) followed with a run-scoring walk and the Dutch then hung on for a 5-4 victory as pitcher Annie DeVries (junior, Eldridge, North Scott HS) notched her second save.
Central (11-1) extended its win streak to 11 games with four games left on its Arizona trip.
Olson had three hits in the game and drove in two runs.
“She had some really good at-bats, particularly with the timing of it,” Wares said. “It was foul ball after foul ball before she got the hit. And we had other good at-bats that inning. After giving up the three runs that tied it, you’re naturally a little bit down. So to respond right away like that was very, very big.”
But tempering any postgame euphoria was a sixth-inning injury to sophomore shortstop Emily Wilson (Bondurant, Bondurant-Farrar HS) who was struck by her own foul tip while batting. Postgame medical tests were somewhat encouraging but, at minimum, it appears her Arizona action is over. The transfer had quickly established herself as a vital cog in the Central offense and had belted her team-high third homer earlier in the game. She’s hitting a sizzling .462 with a team-high 15 RBI.
“We just hope we don’t lose her for the season,” coach George Wares said. “You really feel badly for her but all we can do is hope for the best.”
It’s been an injury-scarred start for the Dutch. Returning catcher Emily Walton (junior, Cedar Rapids, Jefferson HS) is out for the season following surgery and all-conference third baseman Lauren Bagby (sophomore, Norwalk) was sidelined by injury during the preseason and missed all previous action on the trip. Ironically, Bagby was in uniform for the first time Friday and made her debut in the seventh inning against Trinity as Wilson’s replacement at shortstop.
“It’s kind of amazing what we’ve done without those players,” Wares said.
What the Dutch did Friday was jump on top of Trinity in the first inning Olson doubled home center fielder Sara Tallman (freshman, Pella), Wilson homered in the third and Olson’s double led to a run in the fourth.
Pitcher Mariah Fritz (sophomore, Tama, East Marshall HS) improved to 4-0, allowing five hits and four runs over 5.2 innings, but only one earned run while walking one and striking out five. Fritz is showing steady improvement after an injury-plagued year prior to transferring to Central.
“She’s legit,” Wares said. “She’s still not in the game shape she needs to be in and got a little bit tired, but she’s got a great variety of pitches. She’s easy to call a game for. She’ll be capable of going a full seven innings soon.”
DeVries entered in the sixth with two runners aboard and allowed a run-scoring hit, but then retired the next four hitters to close out the win.
Bagby had a memorable debut, leaping to spear a one-out line drive in the seventh inning.
“That was a big play,” Wares said. “There was a little bit of a concern with her stretching out like that because of the injury, but if she doesn’t catch that, it probably goes to the fence.”
Wares was confident DeVries could deliver in a tight spot and was glad he didn’t have to turn to Olson for relief duty.
“It was big for Annie to come in at that point,” Wares said. “After she gave up the hit, she was solid. She’s so much tougher mentally than she was before. She’s matured a lot.
“”If she had any thought that she’s a No. 3 pitcher who we only use against lower-tier teams, I think this shows otherwise. We wouldn’t have put her in that spot if we didn’t have confidence in her.”
In the opener with Hamline, Central took command with two runs in the second inning and two more in the third, before ending it with a four-run fifth. Third baseman Amanda Sigulas (freshman, Morton, Ill.), left fielder Tabitha Taylor (junior, Grimes, Dallas Center-Grimes HS) and Wilson each had two hits while Tallman and Taylor each scored two runs. First baseman Abbie Voas (senior, Chanhassen, Minn.) drove in two runs.
Olson scattered four hits over five frames, walking one and striking out five as the Dutch needed just 1 hour, 11 minutes to complete the early-morning game.
Wares continues to be impressed with his team’s defensive progress as well, despite two costly errors that led to Trinity’s three-run outburst.
“Not a lot of people understand but we’re getting a lot more sophisticated defensively,” he said. Knowing when to go after a lead runner. Hitting cutoffs and relays. Understanding angles and positioning. Wares sees progress.
“But there are still a lot of things we need to work on,” he said.
Wares is also pondering lineup options, assuming Wilson is sidelined for the weekend. Bagby is an obvious answer at shortstop, but only if Wares is convinced she’s ready to go. She’d likely only be used on defense, initially. Otherwise, Taylor might be plan B, having arrived at Central as a second baseman, since the Dutch have a number of outfield options with Sadie Baugher (sophomore, Eddyville, Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont HS), Sarah Bowen (senior, New Sharon, North Mahaska HS) and Felicia Schulty (senior, Wellman, Mid-Prairie HS) all experienced defenders who could join Tallman, the center fielder.
Some combination of those players will take on Wis.-La Crosse Saturday at 9 a.m. (11 a.m. Central Daylight Time) and Hamline (Minn.) at 11 a.m. (1 p.m. CDT). They’ll play the same two opponents Sunday as well before flying back to Iowa Monday.
Wis.-La Crosse (11-3) is among the most talented teams on Central’s non-conference schedule, having already defeated Iowa Conference rival Simpson College as well as Suffolk, which edged Central last week. The Eagles are 9-1 in Tucson.
After getting blanked by the Dutch Friday, Hamline took a 3-2 record into a game with Eastern Connecticut State.