FAIRFIELD — Fairfield High School softball player Hannah Simpson insists she doesn’t step up to the plate looking to hit home runs as much as she used to.
Sometimes, it only looks that way.
Simpson didn’t get cheated on any of her swings Monday, hitting two home runs in the opener and a triple in the second game as the Trojans swept Fort Madison 7-1 and 4-0 in a Southeast Conference doubleheader at Fairfield Middle School.
“Last year I tried to swing as hard as I could every time at the plate, and that didn’t work out so well,” said Simpson, a freshman. “I’m really trying to get more base hits and just go where the pitch is thrown.”
She did that, pulling a two-run homer over the fence in right field during a four-run second inning in the first game. Her hit was the last of three straight one-out scoring hits, as Allison Rebling and Coty Engle each doubled in a run ahead of her.
Leading 4-1 in the fifth, the Trojans tacked on another pair of runs, then Simpson hit a solo homer to straight-away center field in the sixth. She drove in four runs in the doubleheader.
“I think it took us a turn through the lineup to really adjust to the pitching. We were all out on our front foot,” Simpson said.
While Fairfield was excellent at the plate, Rebling overpowered the Bloodhounds in the pitcher’s circle, striking out 15 and allowing just one run on a wild pitch. She struck out five in a row in the second and third innings, then struck out the side in the fifth after walking the first two hitters.
“Our pitching and defense were really good tonight, and that’s the key in this game,” Fairfield coach Bob Bradfield said. “Fort Madison is a dangerous team. They’re a little down this year, but it’s not like we’ve really blown them out of the water.”
The Trojans (18-13, 11-1 SEC) struck for three first-inning runs off Bloodhounds pitcher Katie Dennis in the second game. Simpson reached on an infield single to bring in Shaylin Drish, Peyton McCabe followed with an RBI ground out and Simpson scored on an error.
Fairfield had ample opportunities to tack on runs throughout the game, but the only other score game when Delaney Breen scored on an errant throw in the second. The Trojans left six runners on the rest of the game.
Engle picked up the win as the Trojans didn’t make many mistakes behind her.
“She pitched well, but with just a 4-0 run lead, a couple walks, a hit and another hit and it could be a different game,” Bradfield said. “It could go south in a hurry. We lost focus offensively in the second game. There were a lot of chances to put it out of reach.”
Simpson certainly takes her cuts, but she’s put them to good use. She came into the doubleheader hitting just under .500 on the season, almost 200 points better than a year ago.
“I have the mindset now that if it goes over, it goes over,” she said of her home runs. “The RBIs, however, don’t happen if the girls in front of me don’t get on base. Every time up I expect to get a change-up, but I’ve been more patient at the plate.
“I just have to know where my strike zone is and know what pitches I can hit.”
Fairfield visits Keokuk Thursday.
Chad Drury can be reached at email@example.com, and on Twitter @ChadDrury