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The Ottumwa High softball team’s road to the state tournament begins a week from Saturday, when the Bulldogs host Burlington on July 13th in a regional semifinal at Huston Field.  OHS hopes to use its final eight games to tune up so they can enter the regionals in top form.

The stretch run got off to a bumpy start on Monday when Ottumwa split two games at Des Moines Hoover.  Although the loss in game one won’t affect the Bulldogs’ postseason chances, it did eliminate a realistic chance for OHS to win a share of the CIML Metro Conference championship.  Ottumwa trails Indianola by three games with four conference games left, and even if the Bulldogs sweep the Indians at Huston Field on Wednesday, Indianola closes the conference campaign against last-place Des Moines North.

The weekend before regional play begins marks an annual tradition, as many of the state’s best softball programs converge on Huston Field for the 29th Ottumwa Softball Classic.  The Bulldogs’ two Friday games are a late-afternoon matchup against Albia, followed by a rematch against Class 5A #9 Cedar Rapids Jefferson.  OHS prevailed in a 13-inning game against the J-Hawks last week in Cedar Rapids.

On Saturday, Ottumwa’s mid-afternoon game sees them taking on Class 5A #8 Ankeny, a team the Bulldogs beat in the Classic last year when Ankeny was ranked #1.  OHS then closes the classic against Keokuk.

Senior Night for the Bulldogs falls next Monday, when Ottumwa hosts old rival Des Moines East in a doubleheader.  The Scarlets are struggling through a rebuilding year, but when the two teams met last month in Des Moines, OHS had to rally to win game one, and hold off a late East rally in game two.