With the odds stacked against them, the Central College softball team overcame a controversial call and a weather delay to win the Iowa Conference Softball Tournament title Saturday in Decorah. The Dutch opened the day by eliminating top seeded Luther College with a 3-0 win to advance out of the loser’s bracket. From there, the Dutch would have to beat Coe College twice to win the title, doing so with an exciting pair of walk-off hits.
The first game with the Kohawks featured plenty of drama, as a potential game-tying three run home run was taken away in the sixth inning, when an umpire ruled a Central runner had failed to touch the plate. That call set the stage for more late-game theatrics, as shortstop Annie Sarcone delivered a seventh-inning walk-off grand slam to give the Dutch a 7-5 win.
That set up a rematch in game two in which Coe took an early 1-0 lead before play was halted for 88 minutes because of lightning. When the contest resumed, the Dutch quickly tied the game at 1-1 in the second inning. The score remained unchanged in the next five frames, forcing extra innings. With two outs and runners on second and third, Abby Strajack delivered a two-strike single to send home the game-winning run – giving the Central College softball team three wins against nationally-ranked teams in the same day and its first tournament title since 2006.
The win gives the Dutch an automatic bid to the 61-team NCAA Division III tournament, which will begin this coming Thursday.