By SCOTT JACKSON Courier sports writer
---- — OTTUMWA – Monday night just wasn’t their night.
Wednesday and Thursday night, however, were much different stories for the top-ranked softball team in Class 5A.
The Ottumwa Bulldogs showed the heart of a champion by getting back on track in the race to regain their CIML Metro crown with four important bounce-back wins over a 48-hour span. Ottumwa excised the demons that haunted them Monday in back-to-back losses at No. 6 (4A) Indianola Wednesday, earning road wins that were anything but easy at Des Moines East as the Bulldogs rallied in game one for a 9-3 victory before holding on late in game two to complete the sweep with a 3-2 decision.
There was no drama needed on Thursday in the Bulldogs’ return home to Frank Huston Field. Kassidi Henderson got her biggest night at the plate of her varsity career off to a smashing start by nailing her first varsity home run, a three-run shot, that sparked the sophomore shortstop to a four-hit night and lifted Ottumwa to a 12-0, four-inning win over Des Moines Roosevelt in game one of a Metro doubleheader.
Henderson also drove in six runs in the contest and scored three times, including sliding home with the 10th and final run of game two as the Bulldogs completed their second sweep in as many days with a 10-0 five-inning shutout in the nightcap.
“It was a pretty good night for me at the plate,” Henderson said. “From that first swing at the plate, it was huge boost for my confidence. I think as a team, these last two days were big for us to get our confidence back after Monday.”
“Getting Indianola into our conference means we have to play three conference doubleheaders a week,” Ottumwa head coach Frank Huston added. “Six games in four nights are quite a bit, especially when you have to log travel like we did. I was pleased with our energy and, obviously, the performance.”
The Bulldog softball squad bounced back from their first two losses of the summer by earning two distinctly different wins over the Scarlets. Game one saw the Bulldogs do what Indianola did to them on Monday as OHS rallied from a late deficit in a big way, scoring nine runs in the final three innings to pick up a 9-3 victory to open the conference clash.
Unlike game two at Indianola, the Bulldogs didn’t let a seventh-inning lead slip away against East. Despite letting a 3-0 lead slip to 3-2 in the final frame, sophomore pitcher Megan Robertson locked down her second win of the season as the Bulldogs picked up a very gratifying Metro sweep.
“I thought she cruised along pretty well,” Huston said of Robertson, who tossed a three-hit shutout through the first six innings of her game-two start. “That’s a really good win for her and for all of us.”
After losing two late leads against the Indians, Ottumwa had trouble getting their offense going as East shut down the Bulldogs through the first five innings. The Bulldogs erased the 3-0 deficit in one inning, scoring three runs in the fifth inning before taking the lead for good with five runs in the fifth.
“That was a good sign, particularly after what happened at Indianola,” Huston said. “To come from behind and close out the game is really important.”
Henderson had three hits in the opener while Chelsea Griffiths came up with two hits and scored twice. Game two saw a three-hit effort from Sammy Garrett that led to Garrett scoring the first two Bulldog runs.
“We really have a solid lineup from the top to the bottom,” Garrett said. “Sometimes the bottom of the lineup can start the rallies and the top of the lineup can finish it off and get the RBI. That’s always good to see the entire lineup work together.”
Katie Sammons had the biggest blow of the night in Des Moines.
The Bulldog senior crushed her seventh home run of the season into the wind in the sixth inning for what proved to be the decisive hit of game two, hammering a drive into the teeth of a gusting wind.
“I thought all night we were going to get blown over out there on the field,” Sammons said. “It was horrible to hit all night, but somehow I found a way to get the ball out of there. It turned out to be a pretty huge hit in the end.”
The senior stars also helped Ottumwa roll to much easier wins on Thursday night. Both Sammons and Garrett had four hits, seven RBI and five runs scored against Roosevelt in the doubleheader.
“I think we learned a lot about ourselves being on the road, especially after pulling out those last two games at East,” Sammons said. “I think we learned we can’t let up at any time (at Indianola). It was definitely nice to come back home and get a couple of nice offensive wins.”
“I think we always do better at home. It’s kind of comfort zone. More people come to watch and being in our natural setting really helps the team,” Garrett added after hitting the two-run double that finished the night off in the fifth inning of game two.
No. 1 (5A) Ottumwa (16-2, 10-2) is back home Monday night for more CIML Metro Conference action against Des Moines North.
The doubleheader gets underway at 6 p.m.
No. 1 (5A) Ottumwa 9, Des Moines East 3
Ottumwa 0 0 0 0 3 5 1 — 9 13 2
D.M. East 0 0 2 1 0 0 0 — 3 7 2
Ottumwa battery — Mandi Moore (W, 8-2) (7IP, 7H, 3R, 2ER, 6K, 4BB), Beth Overturf catching.
2B — Sammy Garrett, Olivia Roark, Sydney Strunk.
Hits — Kassidi Henderson 3-3, Chelsea Griffiths 2-2, Strunk 2-3, Roark 2-4, Katie Sammons 2-4, Garrett 1-3, Alexis Winn 1-4.
RBI — Winn 2, Garrett, Henderson, Roark, Sammons.
Runs — Griffiths 2, Strunk 2, Chloe Davis, Garrett, Henderson, Sammons, Ashlyn Thompson.
No. 1 (5A) Ottumwa 3, Des Moines 2
Ottumwa 1 0 1 0 0 1 0 — 3 7 0
D.M. East 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 — 2 7 0
Ottumwa battery — Megan Robertson (W, 2-0) (7IP, 7H, 2R, 2ER, 3K, BB), Alexis Winn catching.
2B — Katie Sammons.
HR — Sammons.
Hits — Sammy Garrett 3-4, Sammons 2-3, Winn 1-3, Beth Overturf 1-3.
RBI — Sammons 2, Winn.
Runs — Garrett 2, Sammons.