The Central College softball team made it three in a row yesterday afternoon, earning an unexpected run-rule victory over top-seeded St. Thomas of Minnesota, 9-1 in 5 innings in the winners bracket championship of the NCAA Division III Pella Regional. The win itself wasn’t so hard to fathom, but the way it happened was difficult to imagine. After working out of a bases loaded nobody out jam in the top of the first and only giving up one run, Central responded with nine unanswered tallies to win the game going away. The Dutch scored runs in every inning – and really made it look easy against the Tommies, who had won 28-straight before getting humbled by Central. Dutch Coach George Wares said his hitters really executed well against St. Thomas ace Kendra Bowe.
“She tried to get us to swing at pitches out of the zone, and she was in a lot of 3-1, 2-0 counts. And when you put our hitters in those kind of counts, they’ve been pretty disciplined not to chase pitches. And when you play in a situation like this, you want to continue to be aggressive. You’ve got to get a fortunate bounce here and there, and get them to make a miscue. When we got up 4-1 (after 2 innings), the tables kind of turned and they started to think about things and everything was starting to go our way then.”
Every one of Central’s hits yesterday was a single, and the Dutch were aided by five St. Thomas errors. Sophomore DP Abby Strajack set the table by going 4-4 from the leadoff spot, while sophomore SP Mallory Scheulenberg earned the victory for the third straight day. Today is championship Sunday, with St. Thomas coming back to play Augustana in an elimination game at noon, with the winner playing Central at 2:00. Wares feels like his team will keep its even keel approach with a trip to the Division III World Series on the line.
“I think every game you move along, the blood pressure might go up a little bit and the heart might pump a little faster, but once they start the game, this group has been very coachable in terms of just settle in and play. We’re going to do everything we can to win the game. If we don’t, we’ll come back and play the second time. If we do, we’d love to go to Eau Claire and play on Friday.”
If Central loses today’s game, the ultimate regional championship game would be tomorrow morning at 10:00. A win today clinches Central’s 13th trip to the Division III World Series. Join us for all of the action on 92.1 KRLS and www.kniakrls.com, beginning with our Pella Motors.com pregame show at 1:45, and first pitch at 2:00.