OTTUMWA — It wasn't the way the Ottumwa softball team envisioned its season ending.
Although the game wasn't quite as lopsided as the score suggests, it's hard to dress up an 11-0 loss in positive garb.
But the Bulldogs' season-ending loss to fourth-ranked Muscatine in the Class 5A, Region 5 finals in no way detracts from all Ottumwa accomplished this season. In what could have been dismissed as a rebuilding year, a youth-laden Bulldog team consisting of only one senior – starting catcher Alexis Winn – had a solid season, finishing 27-12 and 17-7 in CIML Metro Conference play.
"We had a good season with the number of returning starters we had from the previous years," veteran Ottumwa baseball coach Frank Huston said. "There are areas we need to improve upon to get to the level we want to be."
With the Bulldogs expecting to return its entire starting infield (other than Winn) along with its pitching staff, the future of Ottumwa's hallowed program looks bright. And, if the Bulldogs become a powerful force to be reckoned with next season, this year's group of girls should be credited with laying the first bricks to the imposing edifice Huston hopes to build next year.
While Ottumwa had several players whose stars shone brightly this season, none shone quite as bright as Ashlyn Thompson.
In her first year as a starter, the Ottumwa second baseman led the Bulldogs in a slew of offensive categories: batting average (.454), on-base-percentage (.532), stolen bases (22), walks (18), and runs (47). Thompsons's impressive statistics were enough to merit her a spot on the Metro All-Conference first team.
"Ashlyn, in her first year as a starter, had an outstanding season," Huston said.
Thompson is joined on the first team by Winn and junior Kassidi Henderson. Winn, who will play softball for Indian Hills next season, supplied the offense with a lot of its power. She led the offense in a plethora of categories including hits (56), doubles (14), RBI's (49) and slugging percentage (.758). Henderson ranked second in RBI's with 40 and second in home runs with five.