By ANDY HEINTZ Courier sportwriter, twitter.com/heintz2
---- — OTTUMWA – The third-ranked (Class 5A) Ottumwa softball team won a heart-pounding, mentally exhausting 2-1 victory over Burlington in the Class 5A, Region 7 semifinals Saturday at Huston Field.
Sammy Garrett, who had gone hitless in her previous three at bats, drove in Kassidi Henderson in the top of the seventh inning with a bloop single to shallow centerfield to give Ottumwa the 2-1 lead in the top of seventh. The Grayhounds threatened to score in the bottom half of the inning, but, thanks to some clutch pitching by Mandi Moore and a heads-up play by Chelsie Griffiths — she robbed Sydney Boyd of what looked like a sure hit by throwing her out a first base from right field — the Bulldogs were able to hang on for the victory.
Katie Sammons drove in the Bulldogs first run of the game when she smashed a blistering line drive double into a gap in left centerfield that allowed Olivia Roark to score all the way from first base in the top of the sixth. The Grayhounds sole run came in the first inning, when Megan Mixer drove home Courtney Carl, who reached first base earlier on a error by Moore; with a line drive single to left field.
Moore pitched a stupendous game on the hill, recording eight strikeouts and yielding only two hits to Burlington. The Bulldog ace's superb pitching helped Ottumwa overcome its early hitting woes.
The Bulldogs will face Iowa City West for a state berth at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Huston Field in the regional finals.