BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
BLOOMFIELD – They say it’s tough to beat the same team three times in the same year, but Davis County had Central Lee’s number this year.
The Mustang’s sophomore ace Madeline Barker did that twice including an 8-3 win Tuesday night in Class 3A Region 8 opening round softball, ending the Lady Hawks’ season at 16-10.
Barker is 16-6 on the year with a strong 1.75 ERA and struck out 211 batters for 20-7 Davis County, playing out of the South Central Conference. The Mustangs swept Central Lee in a doubleheader in June.
Barker struck out 12 Tuesday night and allowed just three runs all earned, while scattering seven hits.
Sophie Turner took the loss for Fort Madison giving up 11 hits and eight runs, six earned and fanned one. Turner finished the year a respectable 12-5 with 66 strikeouts in 116 innings pitched. Hopp threw two outs in relief and gave up two hits. She finished the year 4-2 in the circle with 31 strikeouts and a 3.44 ERA.
Davis County got on the board in the first after Barker set the Lady Hawks down in order. Macy Hill hit a one-out double to center and a courtesy runner for her would score on an RBI single by the next hitter. Turner would get the next two hitters to strand one.
Abby Simmons would single with two outs in the second, but that’s all the action Central Lee would get in that frame.
Central Lee retired the first two hitters in the bottom half of the second, but another double to left put a runner in scoring position. Cadan VanLaningham would single to right scoring Jenna Marlow and then Sophia Young would double to Meghan Hopp in center to score another run. Turner would get the next hitter on pop out foul to Halo Arrowood to retire the side with Davis County up 3-0.
Barker would buzz through the top of third getting all three Lady Hawks on swinging strikeouts. Turner would give up just a single in the bottom of the third and retire the side on a strikeout.
Central would get on the board in the fourth. Hopp would single to center and then Shanna Buford drilled a ball to center field for an RBI double cutting the lead to 3-1. Buford would get caught stealing third, followed by a ground out to end the threat.
The Mustangs would get a triple and double in the 4th to add two runs and take a 5-1 lead into the fifth inning. Barker would fan the first two hitters and then Navaeha Stice would line out back to Barker to retire that half.
With two runners on and one out in the bottom half, a grounder by Briley Lough got away from Buford at short allowing two runs to score and give Davis County a 7-1 lead. Turner got the next to hitters to end the fifth.
Bailey Schwartz singled on a pop to center and following a strikeout and a ground out, Hopp and Buford went to work again. Hopp singled to left scoring Schwartz from third, and Buford hit another double this time to right, scoring Hopp for Central’s final run of the game. Barker got a strike out and two ground outs around a single from Alix Congdon to wrap things up.
Davis County got their final run in the top of the seventh on a solo home run from Sophia Young to left.
Hopp led the Lady Hawks at the plate going 2 for 3 with two runs scored and an RBI. Buford was also 2 for 3 and had 2 RBI. Simmons, Congdon and Schwartz had the other hits for Central Lee.
Buford led the Hawks in hits on the year with 40 with 14 for extra bases, including nine doubles, three triples and a two home runs. She hit at .445 clip. Hopp had 29 hits on the year and a .329 batting average. Makayla Morrison, Arrowood, and Macy Watkins all had more than 20 hits on the year. Arrowood and Morrison both hit better than .300.
The Hawks finished 3rd in the Southeast Iowa Superconference South with an 8-4 loop mark behind Van Buren at 9-3 and No. 4 West Burlington who went through league play undefeated at 12-0. The Falcons won their 31st game in a 12-1 win over Columbus in regional action Tuesday. The Falcons will take on Davis County Friday at West Burlington.