Lady Hawks find late-inning win over FM

Fort Madison's Elle Ruble closes in on an infield fly as Central Lee runners advance in Monday night's 5-1 Central Lee win. Photo by Chuck Vandenberg

BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
PCC EDITOR

FORT MADISON – A 1-all tie was broken up in the top of the seventh on a 2-run throwing error as Central Lee topped Fort Madison in both teams’ season opener 5-1 Monday.

Central Lee’s Bailey Schwartz and Sophie Turner both singled with one out in the top of the seventh. But the throw in from right field on Turner’s single got loose, allowing both runners to advance into scoring position.

Then Alix Congdon laid down a bunt to third baseman Logan Johnson. McKenna Cashman couldn’t round up Johnson’s throw over to first and both Schwartz and Turner came into score what would be the game-winning runs.

Meghan Hopp would pop out to catcher Lexi Whaley for the second out, but then eighth grader Kenna Sandoval stroked an RBI single to Emily Steffensmeier in center for a 4-1 lead. Shanna Buford added an insurance run with another single to center before junior Neeley Rehm could retire the side.

Erika Kruse gave the Lady Hounds some hope in the bottom half of the seventh when she doubled to the fence in right center with no outs, but Turner would get the next three Fort Madison hitters to seal the win.

Turner went all seven innings for the Lady Hawks giving up just one run earned on seven hits, while striking out three.

Rehm countered with nine strikeouts in seven innings. She surrendered five runs, four earned on eight hits, and didn’t allow a walk.

Fort Madison’s Lauryn Helmick fires to first after gobbling up a grounder at short Monday night at Bill Hoskins Field in Fort Madison. The Hounds fell to Central Lee 5-1. Photo by Chuck Vandenberg/PCC

Central Lee opened the scoring in the first inning when Meghan Hopp tripled to left field and came around to score on an RBI ground out from Sandoval.

Neither team would plate another run as pitching and defense took over the game. Fort Madison tied things in the bottom of the sixth.

Steffensmeier opened with a double down the right field line. Rehm singled on a fly to left, but Steffensmeier was gunned down at the plate. Rehm moved to second on the throw home.

Fort Madison Head Coach Jared Rehm said he may have gotten a bit aggressive in sending Steffensmeier home.

“I may have made a mistake there and killed some energy,” Rehm said.

Neeley Rehm would move to third on Whaley’s grounder to short and would score on an RBI single from Logan Johnson to Schwartz in left. Turner would entice a pop out to center from Lauryn Helmick to end the inning, setting up Central Lee’s four-run seventh.

Kruse led the Hounds at the plate going 2 for 3. Rehm went 1 for 3 with the run scored. Steffensmeier, Johnson, Cashman, and Elle Ruble all had hits for Fort Madison.

Congdon, Hopp, Sandavol, Shanna Buford, Carlee Pezley, Abby Simmons, Schwartz, and Turner all had hits for Central Lee. Sandavol had a couple RBIs to lead the Hawks.

Central Lee coach Tiffany Woodruff said this was really the first the time the whole team had gotten together with track and soccer wrapping up last week.

“We were struggling with soccer and track going on and we never really had a practice,” Woodruff said.

“This was honestly a last-minute decision on most of the lineup and who was going to play where. We also had a couple varsity kids quit Thursday and Friday so we had to readjust. But I talk about family and team and these girls here are all in. They get it, and they are clicked in.”

Woodruff said Sophie had a nice first outing and was locked in on the mound. She said pitching and defense should be the strengths of the team, but hitting needs to stay consistent.

“If we just keep hitting, our defense is going to be great. We just need to click in with our hitting and keep our pitching stellar and we’re going to be fine.”

Rehm said he was happy with how the Bloodhounds played and said the hitting will come around.

“I like how they kept their poise. It was 1-0 for a long time and that was good. They kept battling and, as we went on, the pitching got better and the defense stayed solid. So I was impressed with that. We were just waiting for the bats to come alive and they did at one point.”

Logan Johnson and Eva Boehringer are the only seniors listed on the squad. Rehm is playing with a bevy of juniors, led by daughter Neeley, and Steffensmeier, both who saw full action last year. Kruse, also a junior, will spare Rehm on the mound and will be relied on with the bat along with sophomore Whaley, who led FM with 10 homers last year.

Fort Madison (0-1, 0-0) hosts Class 3A No. 5 West Burlington Tuesday night in a doubleheader starting at 5:30 at FMHS. Central Lee (1-0, 0-0) takes on Danville in a single game at 7 p.m. in Donnellson

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