GRINNELL — Energized by a four-hit day for right fielder Franie Burnett (sophomore, Ankeny, Centennial HS), the Central College softball offense sprung to life Thursday, sweeping Grinnell College 9-0 in five innings and 9-3.
Burnett was 4-for-4 and reached base in each of her six plate appearances. She doubled, drove in four runs, scored two and swiped two bases as she hiked her batting average to .450.
“She always has quality at-bats,” coach George Wares said. “The expectations for her are such that every time she doesn’t get a hit, we all get kind of surprised, but she had a nice day.”
Central (20-16) had nine hits in each game. First baseman Megan Stuhr (sophomore, Sigourney) had three hits and two RBIs while left fielder Megan Doty (junior, Grinnell) had two hits, including a three-run double.
“We’re starting to get more out of our 7-8-9 hitters,” Wares said. “Madison Farrington (junior, Marshalltown, East Marshall HS) had some really good at-bats and Emma Lenox (freshman, Fremont, Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont HS) was 2-for-2 as a pinch-hitter.”
Pitcher Morgan Schaben (junior, Portsmouth, Harlan HS) blanked Grinnell (15-16) on one hit in four innings of the opener, walking one and fanning three to up her record to 12-10. Then she came on in relief to retire the final three hitters in the seventh inning of the second game.
“Morgan threw well,” Wares said.
Emma Neu (junior, Rochelle Park, N.J., Hackensack HS) threw a scoreless fifth inning in the opener. Then, pitching in relief of Sydni Huisman (junior, Treynor), Neu (4-1) threw 4.2 innings in the second game, giving up three runs in the second inning. She allowed three hits with two walks. Chloe Dougherty (freshman, Alleman, North Polk HS) gave up four hits but kept Grinnell scoreless for 1.1 innings before giving way to Schaben.
Wares noted the game one win was Central’s second straight shutout.
“Even in game two we gave up three runs in one inning but otherwise we’re pitching it a little better and we’re defending much better,” he said.
Central closes the regular season Sunday, still eyeing a berth in the six-team American Rivers tournament, with a Senior Day doubleheader against Coe College at 2 p.m. at the A.N. Kuyper Athletics Complex softball field. Coe is 21-11 overall and 8-6 in league play. The Dutch are 6-8 in the conference, percentage points ahead of Luther College and Loras College for sixth place and a conference tourney berth. Luther and Loras, both 5-7, have a doubleheader at Decorah Friday.