By ANDY HEINTZ Courier sportswriter
---- — OTTUMWA — The No. 2 ranked (Class 5A) Ottumwa softball team used a trio of two-run homers and a whopping 15 strikeouts by Mandi Moore to defeat seventh-ranked Cedar Rapids Xavier (Class 4A) 8-3 Friday in its first Ottumwa Classic game of the weekend Friday.
Katie Sammons kicked off the Bulldogs home-run-friendly game by pulverizing a pitch that clanged off the Huston Field scoreboard in the bottom of the first. The two-run blast gave Ottumwa an early 2-0 lead.
"We make jokes about it sometimes, trying to hit the scoreboard," Sammons said, "when they told me that I did [hit the scoreboard], I thought it was pretty funny."
Later, in the bottom of the fifth, Beth Overturf cranked a two-run homer that landed just inside of the foul pole in left field, breaking a 3-3 tie and upping Ottumwa's lead to 5-3.
Then, in the inning that followed, Alexis Winn, arguably Ottumwa's hottest hitter right now, slammed a home run that landed just inside the foul pole in left field that grew Ottumwa's lead to 8-3. Olivia Roark scored earlier in the inning when a Sammons single to left field got under the glove of the Saints' Sydney Galligan in left field.
Moore pitched a solid game on the hill with a surplus of strikeouts. She surrendered three runs, only two them earned, while issuing five walks — the only negative aspect of her performance — in seven innings of work on the mound.
The Bulldogs used a four-run first inning and a five-run sixth to thrash ninth-ranked Cedar Rapids Jefferson (Class 5A) 10-5 in their second Classic game of the evening.
Trailing 1-0 in the top of the first, The Bulldogs tacked on four runs in the bottom of the first to take an early 4-1 lead against the J-Hawks. The Bulldogs run-laden first inning was highlighted by RBI singles by Overturf and Nicole Peyton.
"It's a good confidence booster," Overturf said about her hot night at the plate.
The J-Hawks whittled Ottumwa's lead down to 5-3 in the top of the fifth thanks to an RBI single by Jefferson's Maddie Koolbeck. The Bulldogs put some distance between themselves and their opponents by exploding for five runs in the bottom of the sixth. The girls big inning was spearheaded by a RBI double by Kassidi Henderson and an RBI single by Winn.
Megan Robertson picked up the win on the mound. She allowed three runs, two of them earned, on six hits while striking out two and walking two. With the win, she improved to a perfect 10-0 on the season. Moore returned to the mound to pitch the final two innings for Ottumwa.
"The game against Hoover showed us that we really needed to step it up, and I really think they we have," Sammons said about her team.
Ottumwa (31-5, 18-4) plays eighth-ranked (Class 5A) Ankeny at 3:30 p.m. today in another Classic game and they will wrap up the tourney against Keokuk at 7 p.m.