OTTUMWA — What a long, great trip it’s been for the Ottumwa softball team this season.
Though the Bulldogs were disappointed with finishing sixth at the Iowa Softball Class 5A State Championship, the girls still posted a 35-10 record and won their Class 5A Regional tournament.
In addition, the Bulldogs picked up impressive victories over elite teams like state champion Ankeny, state-runner up and CIML rival Des Moines East and ninth-ranked Waukee.
“They did everything you asked,” Ottumwa head coach Frank Huston said. “From a coach’s standpoint you couldn’t ask for any more from their work ethic and enthusiasm for the game. You couple those things with talent, and you’re going to have success.”
And the good news is this season’s team will mostly stay intact next season, meaning next year’s team will have a surplus of experience.
“There’s no substitute for quality experience,” Huston said. “They’ve been successful for several years at a very high level. That quality experience is invaluable.”
Three players — Sammy Garrett, Katie Sammons and Olivia Roark — who played an instrumental role in Ottumwa’s offensive success will return for their senior seasons. All three girls were selected for the all-district team and the CIML all-conference first team.
Garrett, Ottumwa’s leadoff hitter, had a tremendous season at the plate. Not only did she lead the team with a .514 batting average, she also broke the school record for runs scored in a season with 69 (the previous record was 61). Also, Garrett ranked first on the team in slugging percentage, 790; on-base percentage, 573; stolen bases, 23; hits, 71; and doubles, 17.
Sammons supplied the Bulldogs with much of its offensive firepower. The Ottumwa left fielder drove in a team-leading 51 RBI and blasted a team-high eight home runs. Additionally, Sammons ranked second on the team in on-base percentage, .529; and batting average, .463.
Roark, the Bulldogs lightning quick No. 2 hitter, ranked third with a .444 batting average and a .529 on-base percentage.
But one essential cog on the Bulldogs team will not be returning: Paige Schreiner.
Schreiner, the all-district and all-conference first team shortstop, who will play for Indiana State next season; started 220 games in her illustrious five-year career with Bulldogs. Her trademark rocket arm coupled with her ability to run down ground balls hit anywhere near her will be sorely missed. As will her 40 plus RBI and five home runs.
“I thought she got better each year,” Ottumwa head coach Frank Huston said.
Huston said he will not only miss Schreiner’s exploits on the field, but also the leadership role she played on the team. He specifically complimented the way Schreiner communicated with her teammates on defense.
Mandi Moore will enter her senior season with an additional season of experience behind her. Moore, yet another all-conference first team selection, was the girl’s top pitcher the entire season. She finished with an impressive 20-6 record.
Moore was dominant against weaker hitting teams — she started the season by throwing a perfect game, albeit the game only lasted three innings; in Ottumwa’s 12-0 victory over Fort Madison in the Bulldogs’ season opener. But Moore also pitched well against top tier squads. She was the winning pitcher in Ottumwa’s 7-2 victory over state runner-up Des Moines East in the top half of a doubleheader at Huston Field and she also picked up the win on the hill in Ottumwa’s 5-4 win against seventh-ranked Waukee in the Class 5A Regional finals. Additionally, Moore picked up the win Ottumwa’s 8-2 victory over state champion Ankeny in the Ottumwa Softball Classic.
All-league second team Brittni Vogt is likely to be the team’s backup pitcher again next season. She finished with a laudable 14-3 record on the mound.
Ottumwa also will have to do without senior Sarah Wilson. Wilson batted a respectable .314 and blasted two home runs this season. The highlight of Wilson’s season was when she went 3-for-4 with a double in Ottumwa’s 7-2 victory over Des Moines East.
Starting third baseman Sydney Strunk and starting first baseman Nicole Peyton also will return next season.
Strunk batted .328 and ranked second on the team with 21 stolen bases. Besides that, she also was named to the all-conference special team. Peyton had a fantastic postseason at the plate and supplied a reliable glove at the first base position. Peyton was given honorable mention status this season.
Ottumwa right fielder and all-league second team selection Chelsea Griffiths batted .338 and wowed the Ottumwa faithful with several Web Gem-worthy catches. Sammons and Garrett also provided their share of great catches in the outfield.
Ottumwa starting catcher Beth Overturf and backup catcher Alexis Winn will return next year as well. Winn provided the bottom of Ottumwa’s batting order with some pop — she finished the season with a .375 batting average and Overturf was given honorable mention status.
Beyond the victories, Huston liked how his team embraced the team aspect of the game.
“I thought the team was really successful on the field, but they were very much together as a unit,” he said.
Ottumwa Individual Statistics
Batting Average, 510; RBI, 24; runs, 70, Home Runs, 5.
BA, 450; RBI, 51; Runs, 37, Home Runs, 8.
BA, 434; RBI, 25; Runs, 46.
BA, 386; RBI, 46; Runs, 33; Home Runs, 6.
BA, 362; RBI, 6; Runs, 4.
BA, 323; RBI, 15; Runs, 23.
BA, 321; RBI, 25; Runs, 25.
BA, 312; RBI, 21; Runs, 28; Home Runs, 2.
BA, 274; RBI, 17; Runs, 9.
BA, 241; RBI, 16; Runs, 3.
20-6, 2.60 ERA, 124 K’s.
14-3, 2.11 ERA, 81 K’s.
Ottumwa Team Record (34-10)
Fort Madison W 12-0
Mount Pleasant W 5-2
Mount Pleasant W 3-0
@Oxford, IA versus Iowa City, Regina W 10-0
@Oxford, IA versus Mid-Prairie, Wellman W 11-5
Ames W 2-0
Ames W 12-2
@Marshalltown W 13-1
@Marshalltown W 3-2
DM Lincoln L 4-1
DM Lincoln L 4-1
@DM North W 12-0
@DM North W 15-0
@DM Roosevelt W 3-1
@DM Roosevelt W 8-2
DM Hoover W 9-1
DM Hoover W 4-3
@Des Moines versus Iowa City High W 12-1
@Des Moines versus Regina W 5-2
DM East W 7-2
DM East W 3-2
@Lincoln W 5-2
@Lincoln W 5-4
@Iowa City versus Danville W 12-0
@Iowa City versus Williamsburg W 6-2
@Iowa City versus Carlisle L 6-0
@Iowa City versus Solon L 8-7
North W 10-0
North W 14-0
@East L 9-4
@East L 4-1
Roosevelt W 13-0
Roosevelt W 15-0
Albia W 7-3
Solon L 3-1
Ankeny W 8-2
Fairfield W 3-0
@Hoover W 14-6
@Hoover W 12-2
@Valley, West Des Moines L 12-2
Lincoln W 8-1
Waukee W 5-4
@Fort Dodge versus Iowa City West L 5-0
@Fort Dodge versus Marshalltown W 7-4
@Fort Dodge versus Dowling Catholic L 2-1