OTTUMWA – The Ottumwa High softball team picked up a thrilling 5-4 victory over Iowa City West Tuesday at Huston Field in the Class 5A, Region 7 final Tuesday.
“First of all, it was a great, great win,” Ottumwa coach Frank Huston said. “We’ve got a senior-laden team that has played in two state tournaments already so they are very battle-tested in pressure situations.”
It was an exciting, heart-pounding game from start to finish that once again illuminated the Bulldogs never-give-up attitude. Interestingly, the two biggest hits of the night for Ottumwa’s senior-laden team came from some of its younger players — Kassidi Henderson and Alexis Winn.
Ottumwa trailed 3-2 in the top of the sixth and a palpable feeling of unease had permeated through Huston Field like an unwanted guest at a party. Ottumwa’s offense had fallen into a malaise after a hot start and a resurgent West had captured the momentum after ripping off three runs in the bottom of the fourth. With their chances dwindling with every missed opportunity, the Bulldogs had to find some kind of elixir, and fast, if they wanted to keep their state championship hopes alive. Fortunately, the Bulldogs would do precisely that.
Winn, who had been in a slump as of late, led off the inning with a single. Then Beth Overturf advanced Ashlyn Thompson, who was pinch running for Winn, to second with a sacrifice bunt. Two batters later, in a key at bat, Sydney Strunk delivered a two-out single to the left side of the infield. Moments later, Henderson who, unlike the majority of Ottumwa’s starters had never played in a regional final before, belted a double to a gap in right centerfield that scored Thompson and Strunk and gave the Bulldogs a 4-3 lead.