A pair of gut-wrenching sixth inning rallies by Luther College sabotaged what otherwise appeared to a be a promising Iowa Conference opener for the Central College softball team, as the Norse stole away a pair of wins, 4-2 and 5-4 over the Dutch on Saturday.
Seventh-ranked Central struck quickly in the first game of the league doubleheader, scoring two runs in the first inning and giving them a lead they would hold until the sixth inning. That fateful frame saw the No. 5-ranked Norse put up four runs, three of which came on a home run by catcher Kelsey Kittleson, and Luther held the Dutch at bay in the final inning to secure the win.
The nightcap was a bit of a rerun, as this time Central sprinted out to a 4-0 lead, thanks to a five-hit, four-run third inning. After scoring a run of their own the the third inning, the Norse again exploded in the sixth inning for four runs; and again a home run – this time a solo shot – by Kittleson contributed to the heartache.
A tipping point in the inning was a two-RBI double delivered by pitcher Kelsey Rose in a pinch hit role that helped in her – and her team – the win. Central, meanwhile, got 5 1/3 solid innings out of starter Brie Haycraft, who struck out seven batters, but also gave up five runs on five hits. The Dutch had four batters with two hits, as Central tallied 11 total hits for the game, but also left 11 runners stranded.
The losses drop Central to 17-5 on the season and 0-2 in the league; while Luther is now 17-3 and 2-0. It only gets harder for Central, as they’ll travel to Coe College on Wednesday for a league doubleheader against the No. 3-ranked Kohawks.