OTTUMWA — The eighth-ranked Ottumwa softball team made a major statement Monday by sweeping top-ranked Des Moines East at Legion Memorial Field; beating the formidable Scarlets 7-2 in game one and hanging on for a 3-2 victory in the nightcap. The victories propelled Bulldogs to first place in the CIML Metro league.
Mandi Moore and Brittni Vogt turned in two gutsy, grind-it-out pitching performances in the games. While neither pitcher was dominant, they both showed a lot of toughness and poise by navigating their way out of jams throughout the contests.
The Bulldog offense didn’t take long to get rolling in game one. Ottumwa’s Olivia Roark scored off an errant throw to first base by East shortstop Jessica Grochala after she fielded a grounder by Bulldog Katie Sammons to put Ottumwa up 1-0.
Then Sydney Strunk slapped an infield single off Riley Fisher, East’s ace and the best pitcher in Class 5A. Sarah Wilson followed Strunk by punching a single up the middle that scored Sammons. Bulldog catcher Beth Overturf kept the momentum going with a bloop single to shallow right field that drove in Strunk and upped Ottumwa’s lead to 3-0.
In the bottom of the second, Fisher hurt her left leg on her first pitch of the inning to Sammy Garrett. The injury forced her out of the game, and she was replaced by April Brown — another formidable Scarlet pitcher — but not quite at the level of Fisher.
The Scarlets finally got on the scoreboard in the top of the fourth when L.J. Putzier pounded a Moore pitch over the left field fence. But Bulldog Sammy Garrett answered back with a long blast that easily cleared the centerfield fence in the bottom half of the inning. Ottumwa shortstop Paige Schreiner had the web gem of the night in the top of the fifth when she managed to snowcone a blistering line drive by East’s Jamie Reynolds.
Wilson ripped a double down the third base line to start the bottom of the fifth. Overturf followed her with a single up the middle. Then Chelsea Griffiths laid down a picture-perfect bunt that allowed Wilson to score from third, extending the Bulldogs’ lead to 5-1.
Later in the inning, Grochala fielded a grounder and fired a wild throw that got past East first baseman Courtney Custard, allowing Griffiths and Wilson to score and extending the Bulldogs lead to 7-1. Ottumwa went on to win 7-2.
Wilson went 3-for-4 with a double in the contest.
“We were just really zoned in, we knew they were really good pitchers; but we just ignored that,” Wilson said. “We just forgot about everything else and went out there and played the game.”
Vogt got off to a great start on the mound in game two, striking out three of the first five batters she faced. The Bulldogs capitalized on East’s errors in the first and third innings by scoring three unearned runs.
Vogt ran into some trouble in the top of fourth; East had runners on second and third with no outs. But Vogt beared down and struck out the next two batters before inducing Allison Fitzgerald to groundout to Schreiner to end the inning. Vogt ran into another jam in the top of the sixth, but she once again escaped from the inning unscathed by striking out Maggie Long with the bases loaded and two outs.
The Scarlets looked like they might steal one from Ottumwa in the top of the seventh, scoring two runs and threatening to score again when Vogt froze Maggie Long with a change-up that secured the win for the Bulldogs.
Garrett turned in another strong performance at the plate, going 2-for-3 with a double.
Ottumwa (19-2) plays at Des Moines Lincoln Thursday.
The regional Ottumwa will be involved in has been announced. The Bulldogs will be in the Class 5A, Region 6 tournament and they will have home field advantage throughout. They will play the winner of Des Moines Lincoln and Johnston in the regional semifinals July 7, and if they win that contest they will face the winner of Urbandale and Waukee July 10.
Ottumwa 7, Des Moines East 2
East 000 100 1 — 2 5 2
Ott 300 130 0 — 7 12 2
East battery — Riley Fisher (L) (1IP, 3H, 3R, 0ER, 1K, 1BB), April Brown (5IP, 9H, 5R, 2ER, 2K, 2BB) Meredith Henriksen catching.
2B — Brown, Jessica Grochala.
HR — L.J. Putzier
Hits — Grochala 2-for-4, Maggie Long 1-for-2, Putzier 1-for-2, Brown 1-for-3.
RBI — Putzier, Grochala. Runs — Putzier, Maggie Long.
Ottumwa battery — Mandi Moore (W, 10-1) (7IP, 5H, 2R, 5K, 3BB), Beth Overturf catching.
2B — Sarah Wilson.
HR — Sammy Garrett.
Hits — Sydney Strunk 1-for-2, Sarah Wilson 3-for-4, Katie Sammons 2-for-4, Olivia Roark 2-for-3, Garrett 1-for-4, Chelsea Griffiths 1-for-2.
RBI — Wilson, Overturf, Garrett, Griffiths. Runs — Roark, Sammons, Strunk, Garrett, Wilson, Griffiths, Ashlyn Thompson.
Ottumwa 3, Des Moines East 2
East 000 000 2 — 2 7 3
Ott 102 000 0 — 3 9 1
East battery — Long (L) (6IP, 9H, 3R, 0ER, 0K, 0BB), Henriksen catching.
2B — Grochala.
Hits — Jamie Reynolds 2-for-4, Courtney Fudge 1-for-3, Putzier 1-for-4, Brown 1-for-3, Henriksen 1-for-4.
RBI — Putzier, Grochala. Runs — Henriksen, Reynolds.
Ottumwa battery — Brittni Vogt (W) (7IP, 7H, 2R, 2ER, 7K, 0BB), Alexis Winn catching.
2B — Garrett.
Hits — Garrett 2-for-3, Strunk 1-for-2, Wilson 1-3, Winn 1-for-3, Paige Schreiner 2-for-2, Olivia Roark 2-for-3.
RBI — Strunk 2. Runs — Garrett 2, Schreiner.