BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – Sometimes a big thing’s called a lu-lu.
That was the chant coming from the Fort Madison softball team dugout Monday night as the Hounds rolled up Mt. Pleasant in the night cap of a doubleheader 13-1 in four innings.
The Lu-Lu came in the form of Lauryn “Lu-Lu” Helmick who knocked in five RBIs in the second-game win. She also gave up just four hits and one earned run in the circle while striking out four to get the win.
The Hounds won the first game of the set 14-4 in 4 1/2 innings.
The Panthers opened the final game with a run in the top of the first on a Grace Kelley single off Helmick’s leg on a come-backer with two outs. Helmick would give up another single before getting a infield pop out to end the threat with two on.
Then the Hounds went to work with Emily Steffensmeier opening the bottom half with a single to center. She would swipe second and Neeley Rehm would reach when Mt. Pleasant pitcher Madison Helling would drop a pop up in the infield.
Logan Johnson would pop out in foul territory and Lexi Whaley would load the bases taking a pitch off her front cleat. Allyson Helmick would get an RBI with a walk on five pitches. Then Lauryn Helmick drove a 2-2 pitch all the way to fence in the left center gap clearing the bases with a stand-up double and 4-0 lead.
Helmick would give up just one more hit and and an infield error as the Lady Hounds clamped down on the struggling Panthers (0-17).
Fort Madison would put up a run in the second and three in the third with two outs. Elle Ruble would draw a walk on four pitches and Aija Jenkins would follow up with a single to left that would bring Ruble around to score after she stole second. Steffensmeier would move Jenkins up with a single to right and Rehm would bring them both in with a double to left.
The Hounds would finish the game in the bottom half of the fourth with a five-run inning highlighted by Lauryn Helmick’s double to left scoring Lexi Whaley and Allyson Helmick.
Still with no outs and the bases loaded Steffensmeier would single to right scoring Ruble and Taylor Johnson to invoke the 12-run rule after four innings.
Head Coach Jared Rehm said Helmick had a strong outing.
“She had a good game tonight. She hit well, drove in five runs I think, so those were some big hits,” he said.
Rehm said the Panthers are in a rebuilding phase of the program and the girls understood that part of the win.
“I thought overall against (Davenport) Central we played a better game. So I wouldn’t say this is the best I’ve seen us play,” he said. “The girls obviously like the wins and they keep perspective of where other teams are it. But it’s always good to build wins when you can get them.”
Steffensmeier was 4-for-4 with 2 RBI and three runs scored. Helmick and Jenkins both had two-hit games for the Hounds.
In the opener, Fort Madison shut the Panthers down early and had an 11-0 lead going into the fourth inning, but Mt. Pleasant put up four runs, all with two outs to extend the game an inning.
An error in right field started the slide and then Rehm gave up three walks in a row to score a run. Mt. Pleasant’s Ella McNamee then hit an RBI single to left. Bethany Drury would follow with a 2 RBI single to center before Whaley would throw out Courtney Raub trying to take third.
The Hounds would put up three more runs in the bottom half of the fourth highlighted by RBI hits from Kylee Cashman and Allyson Helmick to seal the win.
Cashman went 3 for 4 with 3 runs scored and an RBI. Steffensmeier and Rehm each had 2 RBI.
Rehm went the distance scattering three hits and all four runs came unearned. She struck out four and walked four in earning the win.
Jared Rehm said the team is coming back into shape after some early conference losses.
“With the losses we got from Fairfield and Washington I think we’re slowly coming back around,” he said “We’ve got two days, tomorrow and Wednesday, now to prepare for BHS.”
Fort Madison improves to 5-8 on the year with the wins and sits at 2-4 in the Southeast Conference. They host Burlington 7-5 (6-2) in a doubleheader Thursday starting at 5:30 p.m.