It has been fun to watch the Bulldog baseball and softball teams this summer. Both have had seasons to be proud of, and they’re not finished.

The softball team looked good from the start. With a veteran core, they were expected to play well and perhaps be in contention for a spot in the state tournament. Those preseason expectations still sound good. The team wrapped up a share of the CIML and can take the whole thing later today.

There were more questions about the baseball team. They were young. People expected a competitive season, not necessarily a great one. What emerged was a solid team that has surpassed expectations. They haven’t been perfect, but the way they have played this season suggests next year could be special.

In both cases, the teams have given fans a season to enjoy. It’s always more fun to watch and cheer for winning teams, though at this level that should not be the sole determining factor on whether a team receives support.

Just as importantly, both teams have represented Ottumwa well. They have faced challenges with grace and integrity, returning from setbacks in a manner that speaks well of the players, their parents, and their coaches.

The best example of this may be how the softball team has responded to the loss of one of their key players. Morgan Greiner was a standout for the team, and a leader. She’s out for the rest of the year with an injury.

Teams that lose leaders face a crossroad. Some wallow in the unfairness of such a situation. If they snap out of it, it’s often after a string of bad play has already cost them. Other teams recommit. They buckle down and play hard. Those teams may lose some skill, but they’re unlikely to go into a tailspin.

Ottumwa’s softball team is looking like the latter. They have come back hard from Greiner’s loss, and maintained their focus on the field. It’s a level of poise that’s impressive from any athlete, let alone those in high school.

It’s impossible to say where either team’s season will end. There’s a lot of ball to be played yet, and a fluke can change the outcomes. But both teams have put themselves in a position in which they can succeed. If some breaks go their ways, they might do more than that.

As we said, this has been a fun year to cover both of these teams. We’re proud of all Ottumwa teams because they’re ours; they represent the community. And, win or lose, they deserve the community’s support.

It’s a lot more fun to win, of course. And both teams have done plenty of that in 2019.

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