Central Lee's Hawk shuts out Lady Hounds in opener

Buford drives in three, scores twice in Monday night win


FORT MADISON – The Fort Madison varsity softball team opened the season with a 12-0 loss to cross-county rival Central Lee Monday night at the Baxter Sports Complex.
The Hounds are relying on some inexperience in the circle and freshman Emma Snaadt took the loss going 2 2/3 surrendering nine runs, all earned, while walking five, and striking out one. Incoming freshman Jordyn Marshall came on in relief and went 2 1/3 giving up three runs, two earned, while walking two, and fanning two.
Freshman Alivia Holmes, Snaadt, Olivia Buckner, and senior Elle Ruble each had hits for Fort Madison.
But it was Central Lee that showed some offensive pop in the opener for both teams. Jalyn and Jaci Hawk, both juniors, combined for six hits, three runs, and 4 RBIs on the night. Senior Captain Shanna Buford also had three RBIs on two hits and scored two runs in the win for the Lady Hawks.
Buford got the scoring going in the top of the 1st when she hit an RBI double to left scoring Jayln Hawk, who also doubled to left to open the game. Buford would come around to score on a Layla Gonterman sac fly to center. Snaadt would give up a single and a walk before retiring the side on a strikeout.
Fort Madison had runners at first and second in the bottom half but couldn’t bring them around. Both teams were scoreless in the second frame, but Central Lee would blow things open in the top of the third.
Snaadt gave up a double and a walk to open the inning. A sacrifice bunt would move the runners into scoring position. Kamryn Cox would draw a full-count walk to load the bases. A passed ball allowed one run in and then a single by Jayln Hawk plated another run. Jaci Hawks would follow suit and then Carlee Pezley and Buford would stroke back-to-back doubles to score four more runs and give Central Lee a 9-0 lead.
Snaadt would give way to Marshall and she would get a flyout to end the inning.
The Lady Hawks would add three more in the top of the 5th to set the 12-run rule when Fort Madison couldn’t come up with a run in the bottom half.
Jayln Hawk got the win for Central Lee going all five innings surrendering the four hits while walking two and striking out three.
Fort Madison Head Coach Jared Rehm said last week that the Hounds had some experience back in the field, but would be relying on younger players for the pitching duties this year.
“We’ve got Lauryn Helmick back, Elizabeth Tanner, Taylor Johnson and Gabrielle Ruble. At this time, Lexi Whaley is still hurting and I’m not sure that’s going to change or not,” Rehm said.
Helmick was named 3rd Team All-State in 4A as a junior last year and 1st Team All-District. Whaley not being in the lineup takes some power out as she had remarkable years her 8th grade and freshman seasons. She hit 364 and had 40 RBIs and 10 homers as a freshman in 2021, but suffered through injuries as a sophomore and didn’t play last year in her junior year.
“Her bat would always be welcome in our lineup, but I think we can make do without it. We didn’t have her last year so we know how to play without her,” Rehm said.
“We also have Olivia Holmes, Kylie Lumino, Emma Snaadt from Holy Trinity, Jordyn Marshall an eighth grader, Olivia Buckner, and we added Brylie Lorence to the varsity squad, too, so we have some power there.”
Rehm said he’s hearing other schools are suffering with numbers program-wide.
“BHS is still going to be good with the talent they always seem to have. We’ll have to find a way to score runs there. Washington will probably be pretty strong. I think between the three of us ,in my opinion, will be the top three,” he said.
Helmick could pitch as she has several years’ experience, but said Marshall and Snaadt will handle most of the throwing duties.
“They both came to all the open gyms during the spring and it will take a couple games to get them going,” Rehm said.
The Bloodhound defense up the middle should be strong with Buckner in center, Helmick at short. Jayce Fullenkamp and Reilynn Turnbull will hold down the other middle spot at 2nd.  Tanner will anchor 1st and Ruble will play the hot corner with spells from Ava Taylor and Taylor Huffman. Lumino and Lorence will work behind the plate.
Central Lee will be led by Buford who’s coming off a stellar performance in 2023 where she hit over .560 and was named 3rd team all-state by the Iowa Girls' Coaches Assocation, and was first team All-District in the Southeast District. She was seventh in the state in on-base percentage at .611, and fifth in slugging at .979.
Jaci Hawk hit over .300 as a sophomore last season and had 20 stolen bases, just one off Buford’s team leading 21.

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