Hounds get out of bases loaded jam in 7th for 10-9 win
BY JOHN BOHNENKAMP
FORT MADISON – It’s about taking care of business, Fort Madison softball coach Jared Rehm said.
The last thing the Bloodhounds needed as they lead the Southeast Conference heading into the closing weeks in the season was to get swept.
Which is why the second game of Monday’s home doubleheader was so important after the 9-3 loss to Fairfield in the first game.
The Bloodhounds rebounded, but only after surviving a precarious seventh inning.
Pitcher Erika Kruse smothered a grounder by Fairfield’s Jenna Norris with two outs and the bases loaded, throwing Norris out at first base to complete the 10-9 victory.
Fort Madison (13-11 overall, 12-2 conference) kept the Trojans (16-7, 8-4) spinning their wheels in the standings.
“After the first (loss), in a roundabout way, it doesn’t matter.,” Rehm said. “We’re still on top. At that point, let’s just get the split.”
Which the Bloodhounds did, but it wasn’t easy.
Fort Madison had a 10-2 lead when Fairfield scored two runs in the sixth. And as there was more and more traffic on the bases in the seventh, getting that third out was difficult.
The Trojans chipped away at the lead. Coty Engle had a two-run single with two outs, then, after a walk to Delaney Breen, Hannah Simpson had an infield single that Kruse knocked down, which allowed another run to score.
Norris nearly delivered the same hit, but Kruse stopped the ball, then threw to first to get Norris to end the game.
“She made the pitches she needed,” Rehm said of Kruse, who had pitched the final five innings of the first game.
Fort Madison scored eight of its runs in the first two innings of the second game. Lexi Whaley and Lauryn Helmick each drove in two runs in that early outburst.
The Bloodhounds added a run in the fourth on Elizabeth Tanner’s single, then another run in the fifth on Whaley’s third RBI of the game.
Fort Madison had 12 hits in the second game, doubling the output from the first game against Engle, who struck out eight.
“I think their first pitcher, Engle, is dominant,” Rehm said. “I thought the second game, we were better prepared.”
Fairfield opened the first game with a three-run first inning, then got five runs in the third on Simpson’s solo home run and Danielle Breen’s grand slam.
Emily Steffensmeier drove in Fort Madison’s first runs with a two-run single in the second. Whaley drove in the other run in the fifth with a single.