Central gets softball comeback but splits with Nebraska Wesleyan

Central Dutch Athletics

Central Dutch Athletics

PELLA—A bid for an American Rivers softball sweep was derailed by a costly inning and Central College came away with a doubleheader split against Nebraska Wesleyan University Saturday, winning 3-2 before tumbling 9-2.

The Dutch (16-6 overall, 6-2 conference) carried a 2-1 lead into the sixth inning of the nightcap. But the Prairie Wolves (21-7 overall, 6-2 conference) finally connected against Central hurler Mariah Fritz (senior, Tama, East Marshall HS), who was attempting to muscle her way through both ends of the twinbill. Fritz, who threw 215 pitches on the afternoon, surrendered a game-tying one-out home run. After a single, Fritz got the second out but a walk and an error followed and the gates burst open. Seven straight batters reached in a six-run frame against Fritz and relievers Danielle Riley (senior, Afton, East Union HS) and Lauren Shirley (junior, Queen Creek, Ariz., Seton Catholic HS).

Yet coach George Wares said it wasn’t just the pitching that faltered.

“We were ahead 2-1 and had opportunities but were flat at the plate,” he said. “That allowed them to stay in it and eventually break through.”

Just three of the seven runs off Fritz (10-4) were earned. She threw 5.2 innings and gave up nine hits with a walk and two strikeouts.

Fritz came up big in the opener. After allowing two second-inning runs she blanked the Prairie Wolves the rest of the way. She scattered seven hits over seven innings, walking four and striking out four as she pitched out of trouble several times.

“We pitched out of some tough spots,” Wares said.

Central came from behind with three runs on four hits in the third inning, Kaitlyn Andresen (junior, Davenport, Assumption HS), who started the day at second base and finished as the designated player, had a key two-run single and left fielder Shaye Witte (junior, West Des Moines, Waukee HS) had an RBI hit.

“I thought we battled really well to get the lead and were able to close it out,” Wares said. “It was a nice effort coming back.”

But after an eight-hit opener, the Dutch mustered just four hits in the second game.

Witte drove in Central’s two runs with a first-inning hit after Nebraska Wesleyan took a 1-0 lead.

Wares also gave credit to Nebraska Wesleyan.

“Nebraska Wesleyan is a good team,” he said. “They’re one of the top five in the league. We’ve got five teams fighting for the top spot.”

Coe College and Luther College share first place with a 7-1 mark while Central and Nebraska Wesleyan are each a game back, with Wartburg College at 6-4.

Central’s Sunday non-conference doubleheader with Westminster College (Mo.) was cancelled at Westminster’s request. The Dutch remain home Tuesday for a league doubleheader with the University of Dubuque. The Spartans are 18-5 overall and 3-5 in the league after a 10-9, 9-4 sweep at Loras College in Dubuque Saturday. Central swept two road games at Dubuque last year, winning 7-6 in nine innings and 9-0 in six innings. The Dutch lead the teams’ all-time series 65-6.

“Dubuque is much improved,” Wares said. “They’ve had a coaching change and brought in some new players. It won’t be easy, not that it was easy before. They’ve been tough to beat.

“But we’re excited. We’ll try to recover from this and get two on Tuesday.”

Posted by on Apr 14 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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