OTTUMWA – Still smarting from a painful loss to Des Moines Hoover, the No. 2 ranked (Class 5A) Ottumwa softball team bounced back in a way that distilled the essence of the team’s character.
With a CIML Metro Conference championship still mathematically possible, but highly improbable, the Bulldogs, playing mostly for sheer pride, came out and swept an impressive Indianola team, No. 7 in Class 4A, which, barring a minor miracle, will capture this season’s Metro Conference championship.
After Monday’s costly loss to the Huskies had been given a couple of days to marinate, the girls were determined to do something to exorcise those demons.
And they did exactly that by defeating the Indians 4-1 in the front half of the doubleheader and 5-2 in the nightcap.
“It was definitely our comeback, kick-some-butt game,” Mandi Moore said.
“We were out to win,” Alexis Winn added. “There was no losing.”
Winn played the starring role game one by cranking a three-run homer — her sixth home run of the season — in the bottom of the sixth that broke a 1-1 tie and propelled Ottumwa to a three-run win. Meanwhile, Moore had a superb game on the hill for the Bulldogs against a formidable Indian batting lineup. Ottumwa’s ace pitcher allowed one unearned run — the Indians only run was induced by a two-error play by Olivia Roark at second base — on just three hits while striking out four and issuing one walk.
“I wanted my win,” Moore said. “I wasn’t going to lose again.”
Nicole Peyton cranked a one-out double that drove in Beth Overturf in the bottom of the second to give Ottumwa a 1-0 lead in game one. The Indians managed to score a run in the sixth to tie the game when Roark was unable cleanly field a grounder by the Indians Bri Chaplin and, in an attempt to get the out at first, rushed a throw that got by Peyton and allowed Ally Orwig to score.
Ottumwa, however, offered a swift riposte in the bottom of the sixth. First, Sammy Garrett and Roark kicked off the inning with consecutive singles. Then, Winn, who has been one of Ottumwa’s hottest hitters this season, got a hold of a pitch that cleared the centerfield fence and gave the Bulldogs a 4-1 edge.
“I was just trying to hit it to an open space so I could get a base hit, but it went a lot further,” Winn said.
The three-run lead was more than enough of a cushion for Moore, who worked a scoreless seventh inning to give Ottumwa the victory.
The Bulldogs sprayed the field with four-straight hits in the bottom of the first inning and took advantage of a fielding blunder by Indianola to take a 2-0 lead in game two. Then, in the bottom of the fourth, Ottumwa used a blitz of singles by Chelsea Griffiths, Sammy Garrett and Roark, some nifty base running by Roark and Garrett, and an Indian mishap in the field to tack three more runs on the board.
The Indians used three-straight two-out singles in the top of the fifth to narrow the gap to 5-1. Megan Robertson, who started the game on the mound for Ottumwa, ran into some trouble again in the sixth when Indianola began the inning with two singles. Ottumwa Coach Frank Huston decided it was time for a change and Moore returned to the mound to replace Robertson. The Indians managed to score one run before the inning came to a close. Moore went on to work a scoreless seventh to secure the sweep for Ottumwa.
The top of the Bulldogs batting order really delivered at the plate for Ottumwa in game two. Garrett went 3-4 with two doubles and an RBI and Roark went 3-4 as well. Additionally, Sammons went 2-3.
“We’ve seen them before, so it helped to know how they were pitching,” Roark said. “We caught on pretty quick.”
The three girls also made some great plays in the field in both games. Sammons made a fantastic running catch in left field in game one along with the some great throws which kept the Indians from scoring or advancing bases; Garrett made some terrific throws from centerfield, including gunning down a runner trying to advance from second to third; and Roark, making amends from her one bad play of the game, made an extremely difficult play in game two, where she ranged far to her right to track down a ball that appeared to be out of her range before firing it to first to get the runner.
Robertson picked up the win on the mound to stay perfect at 9-0 this season. She allowed two runs on eights hits, while striking out one and walking one in five innings of work.
Ottumwa (29-5, 18-4) will play host to a number of teams at the 39th annual Ottumwa Classic today and Saturday. The Classic kicked off this morning with a 9 a.m. game between Cardinal and No. 12 Clarke (Class 3A), but the Bulldogs first game will be at 5:15 p.m. against No. 7 Cedar Rapids Xavier (Class 4A). After that game is finished, the girls will face No. 9 (Class 5A) Cedar Rapids Jefferson at 7 p.m. in rematch after Ottumwa topped the J-Hawks in 4-2 in 13 innings earlier this season. On Saturday, the Bulldogs will play No. 8 Ankeny (Class 5A) at 3:30 p.m. and Keokuk at 7 p.m.
Ottumwa 4, Indianola 1
Indi 000 001 0 — 1 3 1
Ottu 010 003 0 — 4 7 4
Indianola battery —McKenzie Ellis (L, 14-3) (6IP, 7H, 4R, 4ER, 3K, 1BB), Kirsten Burris catching.
Hits —Cassie Burris 1-for-3, Ally Orwig 1-for-4, Paige Aldred.
Runs — Orwig.
Ottumwa battery — Mandi Moore (W, 15-4) (7IP, 3H, 1R, 0ER, 4K, 1BB), Beth Overturf catching.
2B — Nicole Peyton.
HR — Alexis Winn.
Hits — Nicole Peyton 2-for-3, Sammy Garrett 2-for-3, Olivia Roark 1-for-3, Sydney Strunk 1-for-3, Winn 1-for-3.
RBI — Peyton, Winn 3.
Runs — Ashlyn Thompson, Winn, Garrett, Roark.
Ottumwa 5, Indianola 2
Indi 000 011 0 — 2 9 2
Ottu 200 300 0 — 5 10 2
Indianola battery — Libby Yenger (L, 12-2) (6IP, 10H, 5R, 2ER, 1K), Kirsten Burris catching.
2B — C. Burris, Orwig.
Hits — Orwig 1-for-3, Madi Parrot 2-for-4, Ellis 1-for-3, Bri Chaplin 1-for-3, Taylor Barnett 2-for-3, K. Burris 1-for-2, C. Burris 1-for-3.
RBI — Ellis.
Runs — Orwig, Kayla Quijano.
Ottumwa battery — Megan Robertson (W, 9-0) (5IP, 8H, 2R, 2ER, 1K, 1BB), Moore (S) (2IP, 1H, 1K) Winn catching.
2B — Garrett 2.
Hits —Garrett 3-for-4, Roark 3-for-4, Katie Sammons 2-for-3, Winn 1-for-3, Sydney Strunk 1-for-3, Chelsea Griffiths 1-for-3.
RBI — Garrett, Winn.
Runs — Garrett 2, Sammons, Strunk, Griffiths.