BY JOHN BOHNENKAMP
BURLINGTON – The third out was evasive.
Fort Madison’s softball team was under constant offensive pressure from Burlington in Thursday’s Class 4A regional quarterfinal at Wagner Field, but had chances to get out of innings without much damage.
But finding that last out proved difficult.
Burlington’s 9-0 win over the Bloodhounds was a story of frustration, but with optimism for what will come next for the program in the coming years.
The Grayhounds (21-13) advanced to Saturday’s semifinal at Benton Community (21-18).
Fort Madison finished the season 15-20.
Burlington scored three runs in the third inning, five runs in the fifth and one in the sixth, with all but one of the runs coming with two outs.
And with the Bloodhounds held to just one hit — a fifth-inning single by Logan Johnson — the chance of digging out from the deficit wasn’t there.
Fort Madison scored 22 runs in a doubleheader sweep of Keokuk on Wednesday, but couldn’t make anywhere near that much noise in this game.
“We hit a bunch yesterday at Keokuk,” Fort Madison coach Jared Rehm said. “Maybe we left them all there, I don’t know.”
Fort Madison pitcher Neeley Rehm didn’t allow a hit in the first two innings, but got into trouble in the third. Brynn Casady, the No. 9 hitter, singled with one out, and moved to second when Hannah Heuvelmann reached on an error. Adessa Brandenberg’s bunt advanced both runner, and they scored on Carley McGinity’s single to center field. Another error allowed McGinity to score, and Burlington led 3-0.
Saydee Plummer, Casady and Heuvelmann all had two-out hits in the fifth to drive in four runs, then the final run of the game scored on Plummer’s two-out single in the sixth.
Plummer only allowed four baserunners. Johnson reached on a dropped third strike in the second inning and on her fifth-inning hit. McKenna Cashman was hit by a pitch in the fifth, and Erika Kruse walked in the seventh.
Plummer struck out eight.
“Evidently, she was on,” Coach Rehm said. “She looked pretty good. Solid.”
The Bloodhounds lose three seniors and two regulars from the starting lineup.
“We’re young,” Rehma said. “We had two sophomore pitchers, and a freshman pitcher. We’re young, we’re improving.“
This is a program. We have to build for the future. It’s an ongoing process.”