Prep Softball: Bulldogs Edge #13 Fairfield to Finish Classic | Sports

OTTUMWA — Samantha Weeks promised that the Ottumwa High School softball team would put on a show on Saturday.

In what may be the last act on their home stage this season, Weeks and the Bulldogs brought home a win to conclude the 48th annual Ottumwa Classic. In the most convincing of the five games played at Frank Huston Field, Ottumwa bounced back from a 7-0 loss to second-seeded (3A) Davenport Assumption by fending off No. 13 (4A) Fairfield 3-2 and Brynley Allison stranded at second base setting the tie, with IHCC recruit Hannah Simpson, batting with power, on deck hoping for a chance to land a potential game-winning hit.

“I’m just glad we won,” said Weeks. “It’s a good way to end what might be our last home game. We just had to get going and started really strong (against Fairfield) with our at-bats. When we start well, we can usually feed on that and put it out into other innings. “

Ottumwa never looked back against the Trojans after responding to an error that allowed Delaney Breen to score the first run of the game for Fairfield in the top of the first inning. The Bulldogs immediately connected the game with back-to-back hits from Jocelyn Ware and Ella Allar to open the bottom of the first before a two-miss error opened the door to a successful Bulldog rally.

Weeks was involved in snagging the tie and taking Jordan Pauls into third with a one-out hit to load bases. Wild pitches from Laney Norris would ultimately allow both Pauls and Hunter Caldwell to score with Caldwell, Caldwell hitting a throw from first while Madelyn Houk hitting a throw to first that would have ended an inning-ending strikeout and would have given Ottumwa an important third run.

“We’ve talked a lot this season about bouncing back even when things don’t go your way,” said Mandi Moore, OHS head softball coach. “You have to have short-term memory. Softball isn’t long enough to sit around and remember what happened two outs ago. Short-term memory and our softball game is what we focus on the most.”

Assumption (29-8), again a contender to win a state championship later that month, was the only team to exit Saturday’s Classic without losing a game. Leah Mar, Molly Roe, Abby Odean and Bella Nigey combined for 14 innings of shutout for the Knights in an 8-0 win over eighth-seeded (3A) West Burlington-Notre Dame and a seven-run win over the Bulldogs with a Complete -Game Two-Hit Shutout thrown by Niggy.

“When you’re going up against a strong team like (Assumption), you have to take every positive thing you can,” Weeks said. “Even if you get hit, you have to feed yourself on the positive things you can do. Negatives only weigh you down.”

Ottumwa has put together a rally against Niggy and the Knights. Amber Shotts, Pauls and Ashlynn Sheets were all able to get base for the Bulldogs as the Order’s heart caused seizures in the fourth Assumption before Sydney kicked Roe Shotts out when they tried to steal the third before Niggy Weeks and Houk hit to end Ottumwa’s best threat of the game.

“I’m glad we all stayed together despite the ups and downs of both games,” said Shotts. “We still managed to come together and play as a team. I can’t ask for more.”

Fairfield would have to settle for a split and wrap up a record 27-8 season on Saturday. The Trojans opened the day in impressive style, facing a Solon team that hit 15 in six innings in a 13-3 win over WB-ND (23-7) to open the Classic.

Danielle Breen recorded three hits and had three runs for Fairfield in an 8-3 win over the 20-15 Spartans. Eight of Fairfield’s nine batsmen accumulated at least one hit in the win, which started with an opening five-run inning for the Trojans and added another late-season win over a prestigious softball program after they beat Carlisle in the Clear last weekend Creek-Amana had excluded tournament.

“The Ottumwa Classic is always a fun tournament to play in. You get great competition close to home,” said Breen. “It’s fun to beat teams like Carlisle and Solon no matter where you beat them. As a team we all have faith in each other and we can all improve whenever we need to.”

Both Ottumwa (22-13) and Fairfield will open Thursday’s postseason game, with the Bulldogs traveling to Urbandale for the Class 5A, Region 4 quarterfinals at Gary Page Field and needing wins at Urbandale and West Des Moines Valley to secure a spot in the regional finals at either Bettendorf or possibly next week’s Iowa City High.

“We will be as loud as we can. We like to be awake and positive,” Shotts said. “I hope we’re not done here. I’m confident we can go further.”

As for Fairfield, the Trojans host Mount Pleasant in the Class 4A, Region 5 quarterfinals at 7 p.m. Thursday. Although Fairfield has been ranked with outstanding wins over storied programs throughout the season, Fairfield has three games to win, including two away against potential ranked rivals with a trip to Knoxville No. 12 expected on Saturday for the regional semifinals.

“When Carlisle’s manager (Fairfield boss) Coach (Bob) Bradfield says we have a good chance of making it, you know you have a team that’s capable of some special things,” Fairfield said All-State First Baseman Hannah Simpson said. “If we have to win at Knoxville and we have to win at Winterset, that will be the plan. Our goal is to make it happen, even if we have to take to the streets to do it.”

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