BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – A six-run first inning proved to be too much Thursday night as Fort Madison’s Lady Bloodhounds bowed out of Class 4A regional softball action with a 14-2 loss to Keokuk.
In what was the third time the two teams had played each other this week, and the fifth time this season, the Chiefs were to get on Hounds started Cassie Powers early.
Powers got lead-off hitter Jaelyn Wood to pop out to Kamryn Bailey in left field and then the wheels fell off as the Chiefs hit through the lineup plus one.
Senior Michaela Davis popped out to short in the next at bat, but jogging back into short left to make the play, Allyson Helmick had the ball bounce off her glove. The speedy Davis quickly swiped second and scored when Jakala Hall stroked a single to center.
Aryn Kindig then hit an infield single that Helmick back handed but didn’t have time for a play. Abby Arrowood then parked a 2-1 pitch over Bailey’s head in left for a three-run home run giving the Chiefs a 4-0 lead with just one down in the game.
Keleigh Hall then singled to left, followed by Halo Arrowood’s pop to left where Bailey, battling the sun, had the ball skip off her glove advancing the runners. Gracie Koeber singled to center to score Hall and Arrowood. Powers retired the next two Chiefs to end the inning.
Head Coach Jared Rehm said the first inning was evidence of the two teams just playing each other Monday.
“I think they had a real good look at our pitchers on Monday,” Rehm said. “Keokuk did a nice job of putting the ball in play.
The Hounds looked to make a game of it in the bottom half when Olivia Williams doubled to lead off the game off Jakala Hall, and Sadie Smithburg singled moving Williams to third. Smithburg swiped second and then Bailey reached on a fielding error which allowed Williams to score with no outs. Powers took a pitch off the leg to load the bases, but Maycee Featheringgill, Dalyn Wondra and Helmick had consecutive strikeouts to end the threat.
Fort Madison would only pick up one more run in the bottom of third when Featheringill drove in Smithburg with a two-out RBI single. The Hounds wouldn’t score again and only Katie Dennis, on in relief of Powers in the fourth, would get another hit for Fort Madison.
Williams and Smithburg both went 2-for-3 in the game at the top of the Hounds hitting order. Featheringill and Dennis had the only other hits for Fort Madison.
The Chiefs would put up two more runs in the second on a two-out RBI single by Halo Arrowood. Freshman Abby Thompson hit a deep homer to left center to highlight a two-run third. Thompson would plate two more in a three-run fourth when her single drove in Keleigh Hall and Halo Arrowood.
Keleigh Hall would drive in the final run in the top of the fifth with a single to left-center plating Abby Arrowood.
Rehm said the Hounds defense played pretty well despite the two initial miscues, the but the hitting was too inconsistent.
“We need to grow where we have a lineup that can put some things together one after another. This getting one person on in one inning and then doing a little in the next and not being able to capitalize with the bases loaded, just hurts.”
The Hounds dropped their final six games of the year, right after winning five of six between June 25 and June 30 to finish the season 11-24.
With the first season under his belt, Rehm said he gave himself an average rating, but said the program is strong at the younger ages and he looks for a bright future.
“I coach the 12U team, too. So we’ve got some kids that can play,” he said.
He loses Bailey, Smithburg and Teryn Parson as seniors.
“Kamryn did what I thought she would do, Sadie had a great career here and Teryn served us well as a key role player,” Rehm said.