Rinse and repeat–two Taylor walk-off blasts secure Central in softball wins

Central Dutch Athletics

Central Dutch Athletics

TUCSON, ARIZ.—Tabitha Taylor (senior, Grimes, Dallas Center-Grimes HS) plays left field but she was the closer for the Central College softball team Saturday.

Taylor twice delivered the deciding blow with walk-off home runs, rescuing the

No. 21-rated Dutch (10-4) with a two-run, two-out seventh-inning home run to left field in a 5-3 victory over the College of Staten Island (N.Y.), then halting an 11-2 romp past the Rochester Institute of Technology (N.Y.) in six innings. She’s the first player in program history with two walk-off winners in one day.

“They were both no-doubters,” coach George Wares said. “She’s obviously seeing it well. Even when (opposing pitchers) make a mistake, you’ve still got to hit it and she did.”

It was quite a recovery for Taylor, who left the action early the previous day to return to the team’s hotel due to illness. She now has three homers for the year.

The first shot Saturday was the most dramatic. Central saw its 3-1 advantage melt against Staten Island in the Tucson Invitational Games sunshine as the Dolphins (1-4) struck for two runs in the seventh and left the potential winning run stranded on third base after having another runner thrown out at the plate. But with two outs in the bottom of the seventh, right fielder Shaye Witte (sophomore, West Des Moines, Waukee HS) kept the inning alive with a single up the middle, setting the stage for Taylor’s second blast of the young season.

Wares said Witte’s hit was especially critical. The Dutch lost second baseman Paige Dickel (senior, Norwalk) in the top of the seventh when her hand was spiked as she tried to field a hit which resulted in allowing Staten Island to score the tying run and left the Dolphins in position to move ahead.

“That was a great response by Shaye,” Wares said. “We were a little down after Paige’s injury and our first two hitters went down. But she had a really good at-bat just to keep the inning going.”

The game was scoreless for four innings, but the Dutch finished with nine hits, including a pair by Taylor and third baseman Lauren Bagby (junior, Norwalk), who had a run-scoring triple in the sixth. Pitcher Mariah Fritz (junior, Tama, East Marshall HS) allowed three runs on seven hits with four walks and four strikeouts in improving to 5-2.

“Staten Island is good,” Wares said. “They’re a much better team than when we played them before. I thought Mariah pitched very well.”

Central jumped on RIT (0-2) with a four-run first inning highlighted by catcher Emily Walton’s (senior, Cedar Rapids, Jefferson HS) RBI double. The Dutch added three runs in the second and freshman shortstop Daria Parchert (Illinois City, Ill., Rockridge HS) led off the third with her first collegiate homer. A run in the fourth put Central up 9-0, which could have ended the game in the fifth inning, but the Dutch yielded a pair of unearned runs in the bottom of the fifth before Taylor finally sealed it in the sixth.

Aside from the fifth inning miscues, Wares liked what he saw from the Dutch defense.

“Our defense in the first game was pretty solid,” he said. “We’re so much better in the outfield than we’ve been. We’ve probably got more speed in the outfield than we’ve ever had.”

Central is also getting improvement in the infield.

“The defensive star of the day was probably Amanda Sigulas (sophomore, Morton, Ill.) at first base,” Wares said. “She’s been the biggest defensive surprise of the season so far.”

The injury to Dickel is apparently not as severe as originally feared, although she’s likely doubtful for Sunday’s action. Freshman Paige Roehlk (Davenport, West HS) took over her spot. But Wares is encouraged that the Dutch are able to weather the injuries they’ve sustained thus far due to the team’s improved depth.

“That’s what this team has,” he said. “We’ve had to win when we were without Daria (Parchert) or Tabitha (Taylor) or when we’ve rested Emily (Walton).”

Wares is also enthused about the Dutch lineup.

“I feel like we can start a rally with two outs, which is obviously what Shaye Witte did,” he said, calling it a reflection not only of the team’s talent, but its poise.

“This team feels confident,” he said. “It doesn’t get real rattled. Mariah demonstrated that when they had the go-ahead runners on second and third in the seventh inning and a very good hitter up. You kind of see a steadiness which is a really good sign going forward.

Central concludes its 16-game Tucson trek Sunday, meeting Midwest rivals Wis.-La Crosse at 3:30 p.m. (Central Time) and Augsburg University (Minn.) at 5:30 p.m. Wis.-La Crosse starts its Arizona trip Sunday with a 0-2 mark but is coming off a 30-16 campaign and thumped the Dutch last year in Tucson, 10-4. The teams’ all-time series is tied 5-5.

Augsburg is 4-2, getting rocked by Chapman (Calif.) 10-2 bur pounding Staten Island 11-1. Central holds a 6-0 lead in the series.

“La Crosse has kind of had our number in Arizona,” Wares said. “We’ll be challenged. And Augsburg has a very good pitcher. We told the players that we’re going to be tired no matter what, so we might as well do everything we can to get a couple more wins.”



Posted by on Mar 11 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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