After pounding out 21 hits in a surprising sweep at No. 3 Coe College Wednesday, No. 8 Central Colllege had to rely on their more familiar strengths of pitching and defense to stymie Washington; picking up a significant sweept of the Bears; 3-0 and 4-1 Thursday in the home-opener for the Dutch softball team.
In the opener, pitcher Rhianna Fleetwood had one of her sharpest showings despite a quick turnaround after giving up six runs in a 9-6 win at Coe Wednesday. Fleetwood went 5.2 innings, allowing no runs on four hits with one walk and one strikeout. Haycraft gave up only a hit with no walks and a strikeout in the final 1.1 innings. Fellow pitcher Brie Haycraft, who picked up her third save in two days in the opener, got the win in relief of Mallory Schulenberg. Haycraft gave up four hits and a run with one walk and four strikeouts in four innings. Schulenberg threw three innings of three-hit, shutout ball, walking one and fanning one.
The win in Thursday’s nightcap was career victory No. 600 for Dutch associate head coach Alicia O’Brien. She posted a 423-213-3 during 17 successful seasons as head coach at Western Connecticut State University, guiding the Colonials to eight NCAA Division III tournament berths. She’s now in her sixth season at Central where she’s 177-65 with NCAA tourney appearances the past three years.
The Dutch are now 21-5 on the season and come back again Saturday, playing host to the University of Dubuque in a conference doubleheader at the A.N. Kuyper Athletics Complex field, giving Central eight games in eight days.