Defensive struggles lead to a 1-4 week for Central softball team

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By Willis Patenaude, Times-Register


The Central softball season is not starting how new coach Mark Wiley had hoped, as last season’s struggles continue to cause problems for the team. 


The week started June 2, with a doubleheader against South Winneshiek. Central looked to be in control through the first three innings of game one, but then, in the fourth, the defense couldn’t put South Winn away, leading to a five-run inning. Central was unable to respond, eventually losing 5-0. 


The offense never got started for the Warriors, who ended the game with just two hits, and struck out 14 times. The two hits came from Delaney Scherf and Abby Cummer. Scherf also had a stolen base, as did Brandy Beatty. 


The Central defense was solid, committing just two errors, which led to one run, and had 18 putouts on 26 chances. On the mound, Chelsia Larson faced 31 batters, allowing seven hits and four earned runs. She gave up two walks, hit two batters and struck out 10. 


In game two, the offense put Central out front with an early 4-0 lead, but a six-run inning from South Winn when pitcher Katelyn Scherf got into a jam, effectively put Central away. South Winn went on to win 7-6. 


Scoring six runs was progress for Central, as the team compiled 11 hits, with nine singles and two doubles. Delaney Scherf was an offensive leader, going 3-4 with a triple, a run scored and two RBIs. Maddy Wille singled twice and scored twice, while Beatty went 2-4 with two singles and one run scored. The offense also successfully stole three bases. 


Defensively, Central committed three errors and finished with 18 putouts on 29 chances. On the mound, Katelyn Scherf gave up four hits, four earned runs and three walks. She added two strikeouts. Larson closed out the game, holding the South Winn offense to just one hit and one run, while striking out two. 


“In game one, we had one rough inning on defense, which led to extra outs. Chelsia Larson took the loss on the mound, but she got out of a bases loaded jam in the first inning without giving up a run. South Winn’s pitcher, Eryn Luzum, kept us off balance during the game,” said Wiley. “In game two, we got the bats going and were able to move runners with some different offensive executions of steals and bunts. It was good to see us wake up the bats after a scoreless first game. Luzum returned in the second game after South Winn took the lead back. We were better at the plate and scored two runs off her pitching. Katelyn Scherf took the loss on the mound after getting into a jam in the third inning.” 


The Warriors capped the week off with three games on Saturday at the East Buchanan tournament. 


The tournament did not start well for Central, who suffered a four-inning, 14-0 loss to East Buchanan.


Commenting on the Buccaneers game, Wiley said, “We looked to battle in each game on Saturday, but we did not play well defensively right out of the dugout in the first inning. East Buchanan did a good job of executing bunts, taking advantage of their speed and putting more pressure on our defense. The Buccaneers pitcher, Eden Brady, pitched a no hitter as well. Delaney Scherf and Abby Cummer reached base on both plate appearances for the Warriors. We cut down on the ratio of strikeouts, which was positive. We just hit the ball softly to the infielders and hit too many fly balls for easy outs. Chelsia Larson took the loss on the mound.” 


The Warriors followed that game with a 4-0 loss to Wapsie Valley. 


“The team did a better job in this game defensively. Wapsie scored three runs in the first inning on three hits and a walk. The second inning, Wapsie plated another run, which was a leadoff walk in that inning. Larson walked only two runners in the game, but both scored for Wapsie Valley,” shared Wiley. “On the offensive side, Ashlyn Scherf led the team with a 2-3 game at the plate. Maddy Wille had the other hit for the Warriors. We had runners on third base in the second inning with no outs and a runner on third with one out in the sixth. We were unable to get the timely hit to score a run. Chelsia Larson pitched game two of the day and took the loss despite only giving up five hits and striking out six.” 


Central ended the tournament with a 9-8 win over Clayton Ridge. 


“Clayton Ridge scored one run in the first and four in the third inning to take a 5-0 lead. The bats came alive for us in the third inning, with Brandy Beatty’s two out single, followed by Maddy Wille’s walk and a two out double by Delaney Scherf to get the team on the scoreboard with a run. Ashlyn Scherf got the fourth inning started with a single to left field. Kaitlyn Wiley followed it up with a single herself. Madison Sylvester and Gracie Cummer each reached on an error. Brandy Beatty, Maddy Wille and Delaney Scherf at the top of our order came through with timely hits to tie the game at five after three innings,” said Wiley.


“Clayton Ridge was scoreless in the top of the fourth, and Central scored another run on an Ashlyn Scherf single, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Kaitlyn Wiley, then Scherf took third on a wild pitch and scored on a passed ball,” Wiley continued. “Clayton Ridge took the lead back 8-7 in the top of the sixth, but Central pushed across two runs in the bottom of the sixth with three walks and a hit by Maddy Wille.”


Wiley said it was good to get in the win column, especially with 10 hits. Sixteen Warriors reached base during the game and nine of those base runners scored. Katelyn Scherf recorded her first varsity win on the mound. 


“Looking ahead, we are still trying to improve on the defensive end,” said Wiley. “Offense will come and go from game to game, but we have to be able to rely on our defense every single game. Execution of relays, bunt coverages and first/third situations are areas we will need to improve in order to compete against any opponent.”


The Warriors, who are now 1-5, started this week with a June 7 home doubleheader against Turkey Valley. They have another doubleheader on June 9, at North Fayette  Valley, then finish the week at the Springville Tournament on June 12.

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