Bagby shines in Central softball sweep

Central Dutch Athletics

Central Dutch Athletics

TUCSON, ARIZONA— Rare springtime desert showers at the Tucson (Ariz.) Invitational Games gave the Central College softball team three days to stew over a disappointing opening-day defensive showing. But a more determined effort led to a sweep for the No. 15-ranked Dutch, 4-3 over Hamline University (Minn.) and 5-1 against Trinity University (Texas) Friday.

Third baseman Lauren Bagby (senior, Norwalk) led the way on defense by displaying her typically rock-solid glove work, but also gave Central (3-1) an offensive jolt with four hits and three stolen bases. Despite some struggles at the plate last season, coach George Wares decided to try Bagby in the No. 2 spot in the batting order due to her bat control and two-strike hitting ability, dropping speedy outfielder Shaye Witte (junior, West Des Moines, Waukee HS), into the cleanup position. What started as a hunch is taking on an air of permanence.

“Lauren took a huge step,” Wares said. “I’ve kind of been second-guessing myself: Do we want to keep her there and keep Shaye at the four (spot), because that’s kind of unconventional. She was really good at the two but I also like what Shaye did at the four today.”

Witte had three hits in the win over Trinity (10-7), delivering a clutch two-out, run-scoring single for a seventh-inning insurance run. Bagby had two hits and scored twice in the game, aggressively stretching a single into a double. Central had a 10-hit attack and swiped six bases in making a winner of starter Mariah Fritz (senior, Tama, East Marshall HS). Fritz (2-1) scattered six hits and yielded only an unearned run, striking out three with no walks in seven innings. Central jumped to a 4-0 lead after three innings.

Bagby also had two hits, two RBIs and two steals in the opener against Hamline (5-2). Danielle Riley (senior, Afton, East Union HS) got her first win of the season, allowing one earned run on four hits with no strikeouts and a walk in 5.2 innings. Junior transfer Lauren Shirley (Queen Creek, Ariz., Seton Catholic HS) made her Central debut in her home state, giving up a run on one hit in 1.1 innings of relief before Riley’s return in the seventh inning.

Central struck for four runs in three innings and had a chance to break it open but left the bases loaded in the third. The Dutch had to hold off a late Hamline surge.

It was an encouraging day for Wares.

“The things we said we wanted to get better at, I thought we did,” he said. “Our pitchers maybe weren’t great but were improved and I thought our defense took the most significant step. We just got a lot better there. And our short-game execution was good, especially in the second game. It was just good to get a couple of wins against solid teams.”

Central did make an error in each game but also stymied several scoring chances by deftly handling some hard-hit balls with runners aboard. Bagby was especially busy with six putouts and seven assists in the two games.

“To be honest, we expect that,” Wares said. “We expect Sara Tallman (junior, Pella) to run things down (in center field). We expect Lauren Bagby to do what she did. I thought (shortstop) Daria Parchert (sophomore, Illinois City, Ill., Rockridge HS) played much better today. She just attacked the ball more and threw it with some confidence. (Second baseman) Kaitlyn Andresen (junior, Davenport, Assumption HS) made a couple of really big plays in the first game. And I really like what we’re from Kiley Olson (senior, Mapleton, Minn.) behind the plate, how she’s handling the pitchers and also the pickoff play she made at third (base).”

Saturday Central takes on one of the tourney’s most talented opponents, George Fox University (Ore) at 1:30 p.m. (Pacific Time). The Bruins (6-6) were 2-1 in Tucson Thursday before taking Friday off. The Dutch take on Augsburg University (Minn.) at 3:30 p.m.

“The upside to getting rained out earlier is we’re a little fresher than we would be otherwise at this time of the week,” Wares said. “Augsburg is a solid team and George Fox is definitely going to test us.”

Audio webcasts of Saturday’s games with the voice of the Dutch, KRLS sportscaster Trevor Castle, will be provided via www.kniakrls.com and can be accessed directly at rdo.to/krls3.

“I’m clearly more optimistic,” Wares said. “We’re still not where we want to be but definitely better than we were on the first day.”

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Posted by on Mar 16 2019. Filed under College Sports. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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