BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
DONNELLSON – It took some time for the Fort Madison Bloodhound softball team bats to get going Wednesday night, but in the end, timely hitting helped forge a split with Central Lee.
In the first game, the Lady Hawks’ Mikayla Fedler held the Bloodhounds to just three hits, striking out three in a 6-0 shut out. Fedler forced the Bloodhounds into six infield pop ups and Fort Madison left four runners on in the game.
A five-run fifth inning for Central Lee did in the Hounds highlighted by a two-run homer to left center by sophomore MaKenna Hall that drove in two runs. Senior Kenzie Krehbiel had just driven in two on a double to right before the Hounds starting pitcher Chase Lowney got Shayna Niggemeyer to strike out and then Olivia Williams picked off Central Lee’s Chloe Williams at first from behind the plate.
The closest the Hounds got to scoring was in the Hounds’ half of the fifth and freshman Daylyn Wondra smashed a ball down the left field line that just missed staying fair, landing between the cars over the fence. Wondra ended up drawing a walk and was moved to third when Jada Lamm singled to left and moved to second on the throw to try and get Wondra at third.
Shyla Farmer then struck out and Vanessa Golowach grounded to short to end the threat.
Head Coach Stan Schmidt said the Lady Hounds are having trouble getting energized at the start of games and heading to the batter’s box.
“It just seems that we don’t have the energy or focus we need to start these games,” Schmidt said after the nightcap. “In the second game we saw a bit more.”
Lowney took the loss for the Hounds going six innings, giving up six runs, four earned, while striking out four and giving up two walks. Lexi Schmidt, Lamm and Golowach had the only hits for the Hounds.
In the second game, the Hounds’ Lexi Schmidt took the mound and seemed to have things in hand with nine strikeouts through five innings, but the game got hairy in the last two innings.
FMHS’ bats came alive early in the second game. Schmidt laced a one-out double to left, scoring Lowney, who had taken an opening walk and stole second. Olivia Williams walked to put runners at 1st and 2nd base, but Kamryn Bailey hit a grounder to 3rd to force the runner and then was thrown at first for the double play to end the inning.
Central Lee’s Anna Krehbiel reached on an error at first to lead off for the Lady Hawks and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. But Schmidt struck out the next two batters to strand Krehbiel.
The Hounds put two more on the board in the top of the second when Taryn Parson singled in Wondra and Emily Mitchell. But a sacrifice bunt by Kylee Cashman to move Parsons to second was wiped out when the next two Hounds flew out to center.
Schmidt struck out the side in the top of the second and the Hounds took a 4-0 lead in their half of the 3rd inning when Wondra singled in Williams. The Lady Hawks got on the board in the bottom of the third when Kaleigh Hall singled to center. Schmidt got Sophie Woodley to pop out to center and then Anna Krehbiel drove in Hall with another single up the middle. Krehbiel scored on another RBI single. A fielder’s choice, a strike out, and fly out to left ended the rally quickly.
The Lady Hawks put up another run in the fourth inning and fifth inning to tie it up and then took the lead as they held the Hounds scoreless in the 4th, 5th, and 6th innings. The Hawks put another run across in the bottom of the sixth when Woodley doubled to right and was driven in by Zoe Eschman’s ground out to second, giving the Lady Hawks a 5-4 lead.
In the seventh inning, Schmidt grounded out to third for a quick first out, but Williams reached on an error on a fly ball to center setting the stage for Bailey to lace one down the third base line and to the fence scoring Williams. Wondra followed with a double of her own, but Bailey got hung up rounding second and wasn’t able to score and was held up at third. Emily Mitchell struck out for the second out and the game tied at 5s. Parsons then came up and drove in her 3rd and 4th RBIs with a single to center in what proved to be the game winning hit, putting the Hounds up 7-5.
Schmidt said the team is still seeing too many errors and he’s hoping as the season goes, those are cleared up.
“At one point in the first game we had to make what amounted to 7 outs just to get three. We’re trying to nail down our top nine and so what happens is you can’t be sure who that is and we can’t continue to let that happen much longer,” said Schmidt, who at one point during a mid-inning huddle in the first game, headed back to the dugout to let the girls motivate themselves.
The Hounds stand at 2-4 on the year after splitting with West Burlington to open the season, getting swept by Washington, and then splitting Wednesday night. They travel to Mt. Pleasant Thursday night.