The Ottumwa Courier

Sports

July 10, 2011

Bulldogs host Southeast Polk tonight

OTTUMWA — The fourth-ranked Ottumwa softball team won’t be looking past Southeast Polk tonight.

Not after what Polk pulled off on Saturday.

The Rams come to Huston Field in Ottumwa tonight for their Class 4A Regional Semifinal contest against the 33-7 Bulldogs with just a 19-20 overall record — but their 19th win was a big one.

In the regional quarterfinals on Saturday, Southeast Polk upset Indianola, 3-1, to advance to take on Ottumwa. Indianola’s season ended a little bit earlier than expected, with a 25-14 final record.

Southeast Polk’s Brittany Steele belted a game-winning two-run double in the seventh inning to break up a 1-1 stalemate and lift the Rams to the clutch victory. Southeast Polk had been scoreless until the top of the seventh. The Rams loaded the bases before Steele’s hit down the left-field line.

Southeast Polk had lost to Indianola in three of four CIML Central Conference meetings this season, but has played much better in recent days. The Rams took a 9-0 win over Pekin and lost 7-0 to Clear Creek Amana at the Ottumwa Classic at the start of July. Since the July 4 holiday, the Rams have important wins over Dowling Catholic and Ames to their credit — and Ottumwa in their sights.

The winner of tonight’s game — slated to start at 7 p.m. — will travel to Burlington on Monday to take on tonight’s winner between sixth-ranked Burlington and Iowa City High.

The Bulldogs are coming off a very impressive sweep over second-ranked Des Moines East last Thursday. The two wins at Huston Field helped Ottumwa claim a share of the CIML Metro crown, along with East. Both teams finished league play with 17-3 records.

After a 4-1 win in the opening game Thursday, the Bulldogs rallied for three runs in the final inning in the nightcap to take an 8-7 clutch win of their own, and a sweep of the twinbill.

Southeast Polk features a young stable of pitchers who have improved with experience this season. Lexi Blonigan is an eighth-grader with a 10-4 overall record in 20 appearances and 17 starts. Her ERA is 3.18. Freshman Hannah Parker has started 11 games and is 4-8 with a 3.28 ERA.

Senior Tiffany Gillaspy leads SE Polk at the plate with eight homers, 10 doubles and 39 RBI on the season. Ottumwa pitchers will be looking to keep her bat quiet.

Senior Courtney Wagner is 15-6 with a 1.71 ERA on the mound for Ottumwa this season, while sophomore Mandi Moore is 17-1 with a 2.11 ERA.

At the plate, junior Paige Schreiner and sophomore Katie Sammons have combined for 105 RBI for the Bulldogs this season, and each has belted six home runs.

In the doubleheader against Des Moines East, Sammons — playing in her first game since a back injury sustained in the Ottumwa Classic — went 4-for-6 with three RBI.

The Bulldogs’ batting average is .390 as a team, fourth in Class 4A. Ottumwa is third in Class 4A in total runs scored. The Bulldogs average over eight runs per game.

Ottumwa is always solid defensively, and is ranked second in Class 4A in fielding percentage as a team.

The Bulldogs advanced to the state tournament in Fort Dodge last season, and finished fourth overall.

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