The Ottumwa High softball team and its remarkable senior class ended its historic run on Friday by capturing a fourth-place finish in the Class 5A state softball tournament in Fort Dodge. The Bulldogs’ nine seniors made it to state three times in four years, the first such run for OHS since Ottumwa played in the 1990, 1992 and 1993 tournaments.
The highlight of this season’s state tournament for Ottumwa was a 2-0 win over Cedar Rapids Jefferson, the first quarterfinal win for OHS since 2010. Mandi Moore pitched a complete-game, four-hit shutout for the Bulldogs, while Kate Sammons and Alexis Winn drove in the game’s only two runs.
Events took a strange turn in the semifinal round against Johnston. The game didn’t begin until nearly 8:00 Thursday evening, as the two games previous to Ottumwa’s ran long, and the Bulldogs took the field knowing a threat of rain was in the air. Johnston took a 3-0 lead in the top of the third inning, then both teams were pulled off the field as lightning was spotted overhead. Minutes later, the ran began to fall, and after 45 minutes the game was suspended until 9:30 Friday morning.
The Bulldogs returned to Rogers Park the next day focused on a rally, and nearly pulled it off. OHS scored twice in the sixth inning, cutting Johnston’s lead to 4-2, and had the tying runs in scoring position but couldn’t bring them home. The Dragons grabbed the momentum back with three runs in the seventh, and although Ottumwa loaded the bases in the bottom of the inning, Johnston forced OHS into the third-place game with a 7-2 decision.
Because of the rain issue, Ottumwa would have to face defending champion Ankeny just a few hours later for third place, and perhaps that was a factor in the Hawkettes taking a 5-1 lead after a single inning. The two teams traded runs after that, with the final going Ankeny’s way 7-3. Winn, Nicole Peyton and Sydney Strunk each had an RBI for OHS in the final game of the season.
For Sammy Garrett, Olivia Roark, Katie Sammons, Beth Overturf, Nicole Peyton, Sydney Strunk, Chelsea Griffiths, Mandi Moore and Brittni Vogt, it was also the final time for them to wear an Ottumwa softball uniform. Head coach Frank Huston paid tribute to his senior class after the game, saying their accomplishments on and off the field had given them a head start on becoming successful in life.