Ottumwa clinches share of Metro softball title

Sydney Schlarbaum fires a ball back into the infield during prep softball action for the Ottumwa Bulldogs.

DES MOINES — Morgan who?

Frank Huston said it in jest on Tuesday, but the eighth-ranked (5A) Ottumwa softball team did make a statement against Des Moines Roosevelt while clinching a share of the CIML Metro conference title. In the first game without senior all-state third baseman Morgan Greiner, the Bulldogs pounded out 19 hits and scored 10 runs in a 10-1 victory before adding 11 more hits and 11 more runs in an 11-3 victory over the Roughriders.

The sweep for the Bulldogs, combined with a doubleheader split between Des Moines East and Des Moines Hoover, allowed Ottumwa (31-6, 16-3) to clinch at least a share of the Metro title. Ottumwa can win it outright Thursday at home by beating the Scarlets (26-12, 15-4), who will need a win at Huston Field to earn a share of the conference title with the Bulldogs.

Josie Lemonds, who took over at third base for Greiner, blasted a three-run home run in the opening inning of Tuesday's doubleheader to highlight a three-hit night. Hannah Huisinga, who was moved up to the clean-up spot in the batting order, drove in four runs with four hits including two on a seventh-inning home run.

Abby Bowers added three hits and drove in three runs for the Bulldogs in her first game batting fifth. Kacy Nickerson, who along with Heaton were the only OHS batters that didn't move up in the lineup, struck out 14 batters in her 15th win in the pitching circle taking a shutout into the seventh before Faith Sheets drove in Roosevelt's only opening-game run with an RBI double.

Kaylee Bix, who made the biggest jump in the Bulldog lineup taking over Greiner's spot as the second hitter between Nickerson and Heaton, collected three hits to pace Ottumwa in game two. Bix matched Greiner for the team lead with her ninth home run in the sixth to put the Bulldogs up 7-1.

Zoey Jones added three hits including a double, driving in two runs while scoring twice. Seven different Ottumwa batters collected a hit in the nightcap with Greiner cheering her teammates on in Des Moines just three days after suffering a likely season-ending knee injury tearing her ACL and meniscus in a 4-3 OHS loss to Johnston on Saturday.

Ottumwa and East will make up the second game of a CIML Metro doubleheader that was rained out last week on Thursday night with the time having yet to be determined. The Bulldogs then open Class 5A regional tournament play on Saturday at Huston Field facing either Iowa City West or Davenport North at 7 p.m.

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