DECORAH — Dominant pitching and an air-tight defense were enough to let the Central College softball team pass a crucial early season test, blanking traditional NCAA Division III contender Luther College 4-0 Saturday.
It gave the Dutch (4-3 overall, 2-1 American Rivers Conference) a 2-1 win in the three-game series, which served as the team’s conference opener after a 33-day hiatus due to health-related protocols. Luther dropped to 15-7 overall and 4-4 in the conference.
Notching her third win in three days, sophomore Sydni Huisman (Treynor) fired a three-hit shutout in perhaps her most complete collegiate performance, according to coach George Wares. She struck out three with no walks.
“We had a little better idea of what we wanted to do after playing Luther yesterday,” Wares said. “And I don’t know the number but it had to be 80% of the time she got ahead in the count.”
But Wares said it was the Dutch defense that preserved the shutout, singling out second baseman Lauren Birt (junior, Ankeny, Centennial HS).
“Lauren had a phenomenal defensive day,” Wares said. “I don’t even know how to describe it.”
The effort was capped by a seventh-inning grab at the fence by veteran center fielder Sara Tallman (senior, Pella).
“It was a shot to straight-away center and I thought it was at least going to be off the fence if not out (of the park),” Wares said. “And Tallman just made a Tallman-type play.”
Meanwhile the Central offense, while not prolific, was productive, getting four runs on only five hits. Freshman first baseman Megan Stuhr (Sigourney) singled home two runs in the first inning and designated player Morgan Schaben (sophomore, Portsmouth, Harlan HS) added a two-run home run in the sixth.
“We really weren’t that great offensively and we won two out of three because we’re doing what we want to do, pitch it and play defense,” Wares said. “And hopefully we just continue to improve offensively.”
Central travels to Indianola Thursday for a league doubleheader at Simpson College at 3 p.m. Simpson is 6-8 overall and 4-4 in the league heading into a conference contest at Loras College Tuesday.