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Iowa Time Machine: Central Comeback Kids - May 23, 1988

Iowa Time Machine ⏰: On May 23, 1988, the Central College Dutch captured the school’s first of four NCAA Division III National Championships. Led by the all-time winningest coach in NCAA Division III history George Wares, the “Central Comeback Kids” went down to their final out before rallying to win the title.

Hired in 1985, Central alumni George Wares quickly set about establishing a standard of excellence on the diamond for the Dutch softball program. After capturing the Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference crown and finishing as national runner-up in 1986, the Dutch proved ready to make a championship run in 1988.

Central finished tied for third during the 1988 IIAC conference season, but the team proved ready to rally in the postseason. In the West Regional, Central came from behind to beat St. Thomas 3-2 with a seventh inning rally to advance to the national tournament. In four of five postseason games the Dutch looked down and out only to claim victories in the final frame. Nine of the team's twelve postseason runs came in the seventh and final inning.

Facing Allegheny in the title game, Shelley Brown dominated for the Gators. Going into the seventh inning against Central, Brown only gave up two runs in the entire tournament. As Central came to bat, a bunt single by Brenda Vigness and a Diane Pitz single stood as the only Dutch hits in the game.

 However, the “Central Comeback Kids” once again saved their best for last. Michele Magill opened the inning with a single to center, and Pitz lined another single to right. After Lori Ellwood bunted over the runners, and Lori Ellwood popped out. Down to their final out, Central’s nine-hitter Deana Bergquist stepped in the box. Bergquist, already the owner of two game-winning hits in the playoffs, delivered again by driving the ball into the right-center gap. Pinch runner Alicia Kuper scored while the Gator catcher tried to block the plate. Obstructing the runner Pitz, the run counted and the Dutch took the title back to Tulip town. #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaHistoryCalendar


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