After five road games and a tournament in Montana the Central Lakes College Raiders softball team finally got a feel for home field advantage as they took both games of a doubleheader against Riverland Friday.
In the first game pitching and defense secured a complete game shutout for the Raiders and starting pitcher Nanette Ostlund held Riverland to just two hits on the way to a win.
"She's been able to go five strong innings in the games that we've played," said Raiders coach Dennis Eastman. "I was a little shaky because I wanted her to finish the fifth inning but I wanted to get the game over as well so I'm glad she completed it and it's a good confidence builder for her."
One reason for Ostlund's success is her confidence in her defense and her teammates didn't let her down. Twice, Ostlund loaded the bases only to see her teammates shut down the rally.
"I just tried to make them (Riverland) hit it," said Ostlund. "We have a lot of good defensive players. It's nice because I know all of them out there can play defense. Even with the bases loaded and no outs they came through because everyone knows what they have to do."
Offensively, Central Lakes went away from the power rallies and used some old style baseball with a little hit and run and good base running. They also capitalized on Riverland's mistakes.
"The thing that I liked is that all of our runs were with two outs," said Eastman. "They didn't go and get the automatic third out they really started to stay in there and fight. That's important that we make sure we get the best out of all three outs.
"We have hit the ball better and I'm assuming it's our first home game and they want to impress everybody."
Freshman shortstop Destiny Smith lead the offense going 3-3 with two runs and two RBI.
For the Raiders it was nice to finally be at home in front of the fans. For Eastman it was nice to be home, but he feels the road trips are going to help his team, who are now on a five game home stand.
"On Monday it was snowing when we were playing up in Austin," said Eastman. "On Monday and Tuesday we put in over 700 miles in just two days. Of course we went over to Montana and that's a 1,000 miles over there. We're used to traveling so it's nice to be able to, after a game, go home and not have to worry about getting in the van and where we're going to eat."
"The one thing that's good about it is that these kids come from different backgrounds, so those long trips it forces them to talk and forces them to get to know each other really well and I think that's going to be a strong point down the road."
In the second game it was much of the same. Freshmen Jenny Sovich took the mound and capitalized on the momentum already created from the first game. The one difference was the offense destroyed Riverland's pitching for 19 runs.
"We came around in the second game," said Eastman. "We're capable of really big rallies. I just wish we would get more consistent overall. We're a couple weeks away from regions so we'll work on that. (Saturday) we have a really big game against Rochester. Right now we're tied with them."
Even with the plethora of runs Eastman still sighted his pitching and quality defense as the key to the wins.
"That's been the biggest part of our game we have really good gloves," said Eastman. "In fact the last time we played these guys on Monday we had four errors in two games and that's the most we've had all year long so we doubled our errors in one game.
"We have really good gloves and you can tell these players have played a lot of softball.
"Jenny Sovich and Nanette Ostlund are both very good pitchers," added Eastman. "That's one thing we have over most of the teams in our division. They only have one pitcher, we have two. That part I'm very happy with."
Although the Raiders are tied for first in their division, Eastman still doesn't feel his players have reached their full potential.
"This team some times doesn't realize how good they can be," said Eastman. "They have a tendency to turn things on and off and against a bad team you can do that but against the good teams you can't."
Riverland -- 000 00 -- 0 2 3
Central Lakes -- 222 3x -- 9 8 2
Riverland -- Schweardt and Siepa; Central Lakes -- Nanette Ostlund and Lee Zahler. WP -- Ostlund. LP -- Schweardt.
Riverland 001 32 -- 5 6 0
Central Lakes 202 87 -- 19 14 0
Riverland -- Reeder and Anderson; Central Lakes -- Jenny Sovich and Lee Zahler. WP -- Sovich. LP -- Reeder. HR -- R-Anderson. Overall -- CL 9-4. Next game -- Central Lakes vs. Ridgewater Tuesday at noon.
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