Central softball offense erupts in another Arizona sweep

TUCSON, ARIZ.—The pitching staff was in command again for the Central College softball team but the bats sprang to life Saturday as well in another sweep team at the Tucson Invitational Games Saturday.

The Dutch battered RIT (N.Y.) 13-0 in five innings, then came back with a dominant 14-3 victory over the University of Redlands (Calif.).

Central (7-1) pounded out 22 hits in the two games, while even flashing some power as catcher Madison Farrington (senior, Marshalltown, East Marshall HS) belted the team’s first home run of the season and second baseman Haley Bach (sophomore, Council Bluffs, Lewis Central HS) ripped a pair of doubles. Yet as usual, the spark that lit the offensive flames was again the Central running game. Center fielder Emma Johnson (senior, Davenport, Assumption HS) swiped home to put Central on top in the first inning against Redlands, then two innings later, barreled to the plate from second base on a bunt single that third baseman Franie Burnett (junior, Ankeny, Centennial HS) pushed through a vacated infield hole to the outfield grass. The Dutch pilfered nine bases on the day, including three by Johnson.

“It’s good for Madison to get the home run but what we do is hard to defend sometimes,” said coach George Wares, who is in his 39th season of masterminding the Dutch attack. “What we really feel good about is instinctively now, they’re getting the game. It’s not like when there’s a ball in the dirt that we’re saying ‘Go!’ They’re reading the ball really well and making really good decisions on the bases. We got a lot of from our 7-8-9 (hitters in the batting order). It seems like when there’s a runner on third, we’re always doing something to be able to score.”

Farrington was a big part of the productive day from that bottom third of the lineup, with three hits, three RBIs and two runs scored against Redlands. Right fielder Emma Jensen (sophomore, Earlham), the No. 7 hitter, had three hits on the day and shortstop Carson Fisk (senior, Grinnell) had a hit and scored twice from the No. 9 spot.

Bach, the leadoff hitter, had four hits, scored five runs and drove in four. First baseman Megan Stuhr (junior, Sigourney) had four hits and pumped up her team-leading batting average to .524.

The Dutch also profited from five errors by RIT (0-1), which was making its season debut after leaving its snowy upstate New York home. And a more game-tested Redlands squad (8-5) committed four errors. Central was also the beneficiary of an unfortunate break as a third-inning line drive to the shoulder knocked Redlands starting pitcher Brianna Garcia out of the game, although she appeared to escape serious injury.

Central, uncharacteristically, committed four errors as Wares emptied the bench, giving the young reserves plenty of action, yet they executed like veterans for the most part, he said. Among those who stood out was freshman Hannah Higgins (freshman, Macomb, Ill.), who got thrown into the lineup at second base for the final frame against Redlands and took charge on a pair of pop-ups that hinted at trouble when they left the bat.

“Hannah is good,” Wares said. “She’s made those plays in practice, so it wasn’t surprising. We’ve got some depth and we feel like we can go to some other players if we have to but they aren’t always going to get that chance because we have a pretty solid with our starting lineup.”

The Dutch pitchers were challenged, as Redlands hammered three solo home runs, but they held their opponents otherwise scoreless the rest of the day. Morgan Schaben (senior, Portsmouth, Harlan HS), who was ticketed for spot duty after shouldering most of the load last season, has nonetheless seen plenty of action in the early going, appearing in seven of the team’s eight games thus far and throwing 16.2 innings with a 0.84 earned run average.

She started and got the win against RIT, tossing three scoreless innings. She allowed two hits and two walks while fanning two in improving to 2-1. Schaben allowed a run on two hits in two innings of the nightcap.

“That’s not surprising to us,” Wares said. “She’s got something that the other pitchers don’t with that change-up.”

Senior Sydni Huisman (Treynor) upped her record to 4-0 with the win over Redlands, but did allow two of the Bulldogs’ three homers while surrendering five hits and two walks. She struck out one.

“It wasn’t the best match-up for her,” Wares said. “But I thought she handled it well and she didn’t get rattled with the two home runs she gave up.”

Freshman Emma Beck (Holland, Grundy Center HS) got the final three outs against Redlands while yielding one hit.

There’s another change to the Sunday schedule. Central will still play the University of Wis.-La Crosse at 11 a.m. (1 p.m. Central Time) but then will take on Webster University (Mo.) for the second time at 1:30 p.m. The Dutch blanked Webster (1-7) 1-0 in the season opener at Edwardsville, Illinois Feb. 25. It will be the 11th time Central and Wis.-La Crosse have met in Tucson, although the most recent meeting was in Pella in 2019. The Eagles (3-3) have won four of the last five matchups and lead the series 8-6.

Posted by on Mar 11 2023. 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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