Central battles back for league softball split

Central Dutch Athletics

Central Dutch Athletics

STORM LAKE—Getting the response it needed after a wrenching defeat, the Central College softball team scratched out a doubleheader split at Buena Vista University Thursday.

The No. 23-rated Dutch (19-7 overall, 6-2 Iowa Conference) tumbled 5-4 in a back-and-forth nine-inning opener before hanging on for a 6-4 victory in the second game.

Up 2-0 in the opener, Central saw Buena Vista (16-10 overall, 1-5 conference) inch ahead 3-2 in the sixth inning.. The Dutch scrambled back for a pair of runs in the top of the seventh, getting a pivotal bases-loaded infield hit from second baseman Paige Dickel (senior, Norwalk) to take the lead.

But Buena Vista got a game-tying home run to open the bottom of the seventh. Annie DeVries (senior, Eldridge, North Scott HS) came on in relief of Mariah Fritz (junior, Tama, East Marshall HS) and held the Beavers scoreless until the ninth, before surrendering a two-out, bases-loaded single to end the game.

Both hurlers were coming off complete-game efforts in Central’s sweep of Loras College at Pella the previous day and Fritz needed 127 pitches to labor through 6.1 innings, allowing three earned runs on 10 hits with three walks and two strikeouts. DeVries absorbed the loss, giving up four hits in 2.1 innings with a walk and two strikeouts.

“I was happy with how Mariah pitched,” coach George Wares said. “She just ran out of gas.”

Central had seven hits, including five from the dominant sophomore duo at the top of the order, center fielder Sara Tallman (Pella) and Shaye Witte (Waukee).

“That first game was so disappointing,” Wares said. “We had so many opportunities to stretch the lead. We battled and battled, but we had as poor of at-bats as we’ve had all season.”

Wares shared some of those assessments with the team between games and knew Central’s road challenge had grown.

“The deck was stacked against us,” he said. “Annie (DeVries) had already thrown 48 pitches and Buena Vista’s second pitcher, who is throwing really well, was fresh.”

But the Dutch found a way, taking a 3-0 lead after three innings, then tacking on a run in the fourth and two more in the fifth. Buena Vista climbed within 6-4 and when the Beavers got a one-out single in the seventh, the Dutch brought back Fritz for the final two outs and her second save of the year.

Wares was enthused by Central’s response to a subpar opener.

“That was one of the gutsiest performances we’ve had in a long time,” he said. “If there was ever any question about this team’s belief, or toughness, they answered it. A lot of teams would have got swept.”

DeVries (8-3) delivered yet again, throwing 90 more pitches—138 on the day—while yielding three earned runs on seven hits with two walks and no strikeouts.

“That was a tremendous performance by Annie,” Wares said. “And it was good for Mariah to come back and get the last two outs. Buena Vista is a good hitting team. That’s definitely their strength.”

Tallman finished with five hits on the day, with three runs scored and two more stolen bases, giving her 26 for the year, the ninth-most in school history. Daniela Grob’s 37 in 2000 is the Central standard. Witte and catcher Emily Walton (senior, Cedar Rapids, Jefferson HS) each had three hits.

Central committed an unsightly five errors in the game, including three errors in a fifth inning that DeVries somehow kept scoreless. Yet Wares said the defense came through at times as well.

“Overall our defense wasn’t bad,” he said. “We made some really solid plays in the outfield.”

Central travels to Decorah Tuesday to tackle No. 5-rated Luther College. The defending league champs are 24-2 overall and 2-0 in conference play after coming out on top in a pair of similarly hard-fought games at Buena Vista Wednesday, winning 6-4 and 5-4. Tuesday’s contests are obviously critical for any Dutch conference title hopes and a weekend off should be beneficial, Wares said.

“Hopefully we can take the spark of the second game, get a little time to rest and then work on a few things,” he said.

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Posted by on Apr 13 2018. 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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