Central College

Central travels to Nebraska Wesleyan for three weekend games.

CEDAR RAPIDS — Central College couldn’t generate the offense it needed as Coe College strengthened its hold on first place in the American Rivers softball race Tuesday with a pair of wins.

The Dutch (13-9 overall, 11-7 conference) dropped a 5-3 decision in the completion of a suspended game from April 13, finishing a scoreless seventh inning Tuesday, before getting blanked 4-0.

That lifts Coe to 16-5 in league play (21-8 overall) with Central in third place. Coe only outhit the Dutch 6-5, but two of the hits were home runs by Bree Mangelsen, who knocked in three runs.

“We’re not a real good offensive team right now, from a hitting standpoint and an execution standpoint,” coach George Wares said. “Coe is playing very confidently and today was clearly a better team.”

Second baseman Lauren Birt (junior, Ankeny, Centennial HS) had two of Central’s hits. The Dutch advanced a runner to third base three times but came away scoreless.

“I thought Lauren Birt had a really solid day both offensively and defensively,” Wares said. “She tried to give us a spark.”

Pitcher Sydni Huisman (sophomore, Treynor)went the distance, giving up six hits and four walks over 6.0 innings while striking out eight, slipping to 9-6.

“Overall she pitched pretty well,” Wares said. “There was a spurt there, after they scored, of about three straight innings where she pitched as well as she has all year. But obviously, when they scored two in the bottom of the sixth, that made it pretty tough for us to think about coming back.”

The suspended game was halted by darkness after six innings April 13 with Central trailing 5-3. The Dutch went down in order in the seventh inning Tuesday. They had outhit Coe, 5-4, in the contest and right fielder Franie Burnett (freshman, Ankeny, Centennial HS) homered for Central. Pitcher Morgan Schaben (sophomore, Portsmouth, Harlan HS), who was not in uniform Tuesday due to injury, took the loss, dropping to 2-3.

The best news of the day for Central was the return of all-conference shortstop Daria Parchert (senior, Illinois City, Ill., Rockridge HS), who was injured in a collision late in the suspended game and sidelined until Tuesday. Wares said she’s nearing full strength.

“Defensively, I don’t think she’s lost anything,” he said. “She actually had a pretty good at-bat in her first at-bat. Hopefully she doesn’t start pressing too much.”

Wares said her teammates need to avoid that as well.

“When your offense starts going the wrong way, you start pressing and that certainly doesn’t help,” he said.

The Dutch will try to regain their footing this weekend at Nebraska Wesleyan University in Lincoln. The teams play a 2 p.m. doubleheader Saturday with a 1 p.m. contest Sunday. The Prairie Wolves took a 10-16 overall record and an 8-10 league mark into a doubleheader at Buena Vista University Tuesday. Pitcher Kailey Meyer is the conference strikeout leader with 96 in 97.1 innings.

“Meyer is as good as any pitcher in the league when she’s on,” Wares said. “We’re going to have to be able to do something offensively and that’s obviously our focus this week.”

But opportunities for improvement remain and that’s always the Central goal.

“There are still a lot of games to be played,” Wares said. “Obviously, we want to just keep getting better. Every individual has got to be able to do that and try to finish this on a positive note.”

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