BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – Sometimes you don’t know the answer to a puzzle, and the Lady Hounds softball season has been a bit of a puzzle.
Head Coach Stan Schmidt’s squad has been shut out seven times this year. They’ve been held to one run six additional times. They’ve had the 10-run rule imposed 10 times.
Oh…and they’ve knocked off the second best team in Class 4A and the fourth best team in Class 4A twice – in one day.
For the first time, Schmidt did his post-game interview without a hat, the complete picture of frustration as he rubbed his head talking about his team – a team that just dropped two games by the 10-run rule to Ottumwa 14-0, and 10-0 Thursday night. In the second game the Hounds only managed one hit, a double by junior Kamryn Bailey in the fourth inning.
Errors and slow jumps on fly balls plagued the Lady Hounds throughout the night.
The second game started with two consecutive errors. The errors turned into the first two runs of the game.
“We had five plays that I thought we should have made in that second game,” Schmidt said. “Really, up until that home run it should have been a one-run game.”
Schmidt was referring to a 3-run blast by sophomore Megan Greiner who rocketed a line drive to deep left center scoring three runs with two outs in the top of the fifth. Greiner also started the scoring in the first game with a two-run homer down the left field line of Hounds’ starter Chayse Lowney.
Freshman Kacy Nickerson shut out the Hounds in the first game. Lowney started that game with a single to left, but Nickerson fanned the next three batters. The only other hits came from Teryn Parsons and Bailey, both singles. Lowney kept the game close on the mound with Ottumwa hitters pulling everything foul to left. Schmidt said they made a few adjustments and were able to keep Ottumwa in check until a big fourth inning plated five runs, again courtesy of a couple of FMHS errors in the field.
The Hounds couldn’t get anything going and, in the top of the sixth, Ottumwa put up another six runs, forcing the Hounds to score five in the bottom half to keep the game going.
The girls went 1-2-3 in the bottom of the sixth with two strikeouts and a pop foul that was caught to end the game.
The second game was all Ottumwa. Lexi Schmidt took the loss in the second game giving up 10 hits with no strikeouts. The Hounds committed three errors behind her for a total of five on the night.
“There’s nothing that I can do or say at this point that’s going to change anything. It’s just very difficult,” Schmidt said after the game.
“They haven’t figured it out – and maybe some of it’s youth – but you know we’re deep enough into the season that we don’t have 8th graders anymore, we have softball players. I know I sound like a broken record….It’s just very frustrating.”
He said the girls are playing with some selfishness at the plate as well, with the combined four hits in both games.
“We’re in that little funk, they’re still being very selfish. If I’m a pitcher and you aren’t hitting me I’m not going to change, you have to change and they aren’t doing that. They’re a little stubborn that way.”
The Hounds (7-24) travel to Goose Lake, near the Quad Cities, for three games on Saturday before wrapping up the season hosting Keokuk for a doubleheader on Monday. The post season starts Thursday at Keokuk.