TUCSON, Ariz. -- No. 4 Central (Iowa) opened its 2014 season Friday with a pair of shutout victories, beating Dickinson (Pa.) 14-0 in five innings and Baldwin-Wallace 7-0. The key blow in the second game came as a result of a two-run homer by junior transfer first baseman Katilyn Matzen.
Three Central pitchers combined on the shutouts. Brie Haycraft got the opening win over Dickinson, allowing three hits with two walks and a strikeout over three innings. All-America honoree Mallory Schulenberg was predictably sharp, facing the minimum 12 hitters in four innings against Baldwin-Wallace. She yielded one hit—which was effectively erased when the runner was picked off after rounding first base too aggressively—and no walks while fanning four.
But it was a pitcher up from last year’s junior varsity, sophomore Trisha Smith, who caught coach George Wares’ eye with five innings of shutout relief. She picked up her first collegiate save by throwing the final three innings of the nightcap and allowed three hits overall in the combined five frames, walking none and striking out seven.
“That was real encouraging,” Wares said. “If there was anyone who maybe played above what they’ve showed in practice so far, it was Trish. We as coaches always felt good about her ability. Today she did exactly what we wanted. It was nice that the score allowed her to get her first taste of varsity experience without the game being on the line. I thought she handled it well.”
Wares was obviously happy with the shutouts as well.
“I thought all three pitchers, for a Day 1 performance, were pretty solid,” Wares said. “For the most part, they got ahead in counts and it gets easier after that.”
Central (2-0) quickly rid itself of any early season butterflies as the first nine Dutch batters scored in the first inning against Dickinson, albeit with some help from the Red Devils (2-8). Only two balls left the infield in the first inning and one was an out. But Central parlayed four hits, two walks and a hit batsman into a 9-0 lead. Shortstop Annie Sarcone had a two-run single and an RBI groundout in the inning. Central finished with 10 hits in the five-inning game, including two from second baseman Abbey Strajack and center fielder Paige Heesch. Matzen singled in a run, brought home another after getting hit by a pitch, and scored three times in her bid for the first base job.
Sarcone singled home left fielder Jordan Overland in the first inning against Baldwin-Wallace. The Dutch broke it open with a six-run fourth inning, sparked by Matzen’s two-run homer, a line shot to left field. Designated player Karlee Rock had a two-run hit. Right fielder Lexi Cessna, primarily a defensive replacement last year, is trying to stake a claim on a starting spot in 2014 and contributed a double and a single.
“I like what Lexi did at the plate,” Wares said. “If she continues to do that, it will be a real bonus."