BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – Fort Madison pinned their hopes Monday night of a third home doubleheader sweep this year on one of their youngest players.
Eighth grader Katie Dennis went into the top of the seventh holding a Bloodhound 6-4 lead in the nightcap and calmly went to work striking out three of four batters Monday night to give Fort Madison the win.
Junior Cassie Powers went a full eight innings to give the Hounds a 3-2 win the opener.
Dennis, who struck out eight in the game, got behind early giving up a lead-off single to Lily Hoskins who would come around to score on Hannah Simpson’s RBI single to right.
The Bloodhounds wouldn’t counter in the bottom of the first, and then Dennis settled in not allowing another run until the top of the fourth.
The Bloodhounds would put their first runs on the board in the bottom of the third. Jassmine Bass would fan to start the inning and Sadie Smithburg would ground out to second and it looked to be a short side for FMHS.
But Olivia Williams worked a walk and then cleanup hitter Kamryn Bailey laced a double to center to put runners at second and third with two outs. Powers then hit a dribbler to second that Destiny Gridley fielded cleanly but overshot Allison Rebling at first allowing Williams and Bailey to come around to score.
Fairfield tied the game in the top of the fourth when Carly Ferrel reaching on an infield single to open the inning. Ellie Baker ripped a line drive to right that Wondra tracked down, but then Danielle Breen grounded to short where Allison Helmick mishandled the play allowing Ferrel to move to second. With one out Ferrel then swiped third and came into score on a single by Rebling. Baker drew a walk to load the bases, but a grounder to short by Ashtyn Drish caused Rebling to bump into Helmick trying to make the play resulting in an interference third out.
Fort Madison wouldn’t put up any runs in the fourth stranding Bass and Helmick when Bailey grounded out to short to end the threat.
Gridley would score in the top of the fifth to give Fairfield the lead. Gridley hit a one-out single to left and advanced to third base on Bloodhound error at first that allowed Ferrel to reach. Baker would ground out to short to plate Gridley and move Ferrel to third but Olivia Williams would throw her out on a pick-off move from home to end the inning with Fort Madison up 3-2.
Fort Madison then put up a four-spot in the the bottom of half with pinch-runner Lauren Bailey, Wondra, Helmick and Bass all scoring highlighted by Williams barely beating out a grounder to short to extend the inning. The Hounds took advantage of four Fairfield walks and two run-scoring wild pitches in the inning. Bailey followed Williams with an RBI to right field that scored Bass before Powers struck out to end the inning with the Hounds up 6-3.
Dennis gave up three hits in the top of the 6th that resulted in one run, but the Hounds defense held with two outs when Kamryn Bailey ran down a drive to left center for the third out. FMHS got nothing in the bottom of the sixth, setting up Dennis to button down the game in the bottom of the 7th.
Head Coach Jared Rehm said the game was one of Dennis’ better performances of the year.
“She had pretty good command tonight,” he said. “I watched her play in junior varsity game about four or five games into the season and thought, yeah, maybe I better pull her up.”
In the opener, the Hounds needed eight innings to get the win.
Williams drew a two-out walk in the first and came around to score on a Kamryn Bailey double to give the Hounds an early 1-0 lead.
Fairfield got two in the top of the third when Baker led off with the single, followed up by a single from Hoskins. Powers got the next three hitters out, but not before a pitch got by Smithburg doing the catching to allow Baker to score. Drish flew out to center allowing Hoskins to tag from third and score. The Hounds challenged the play at third, but Hoskins was said to have tagged cleanly.
The Hounds would tie it up in the bottom of fourth when Powers drilled Rebling in the leg with a line drive. Rebling had to be replaced in the circle, but came back in the second game. Bass would pinch run for Powers at first and advance to second on a passed ball and then swiped third coming around to score on a Featheringill grounder to short to tied the game at 2-2.
Neither team would score again until the Hounds found a game winning hit in Maycee Featheringill when she drove in Kamryn Bailey would led off the inning with single to right and advanced on a wild pitch. Powers and Wondra both drew walks to load the bases before Featheringill drove him Bailey for the win.
Rehm said it was one of the better production nights for the Hounds.
“We’ve had games where this person or that had a nice game at the plate, but tonight we got production up and down the lineup,” he said.
With the season winding down, Rehm said the Hounds are positioning themselves to make some noise in the post-season if they keep playing the way they have down the stretch.
“If they play the way I know they can play than, yeah, we can do some things.”
The Hounds have had the last two doubleheaders postponed due to rain, but are making them up in the next week. They now stand at 8-17 on the season.