Cyclones roll into showdown with top-ranked Spring Hill

Greg Mast
The Ottawa Herald

The Ottawa High School softball team needs every victory to earn a high seed in the upcoming regional.

Despite a 14-4 mark and winning 12 of the past 14 games, Ottawa is in a battle for a top-four seed in the East.

Ottawa rolled to a sweep Thursday over Paola (13-0 and 11-0) to improve to 14-4.

Ottawa High School junior Alex Powell slugger has smashed 11 home runs, which is a single-season school record and is tops in the state.

“These were big wins for us in the regional standings,” Ottawa coach Chris Rose said. “Right now we are fighting hard for the fourth seed in the east region, which gives us the opportunity to host [a regional]. We have two big games Tuesday at home for Senior Night against the No. 1 team in 5A and probably the No. 1 team in the state in undefeated Spring Hill.”

The Broncos defeated Ottawa 11-0 in the season-opening Fort Scott Tournament

“So these are real measuring-stick games for us with an opportunity to make a big statement,” Rose said.

Ottawa made a loud statement in shutting out Paola twice.

“Paola came into the games winning eight out of their past 10 and putting up a lot of runs and for us to get two shutouts were huge for our pitching and defense going forward," Rose said. “I was extremely pleased with how we played. This is probably the best we have played since our Piper doubleheader.  We brought great energy to the field and focused on our keys.”

Alex Powell was in complete control in the circle during the opener. She tossed a two-hitter with eight strikeouts. Rose said she had some of her stuff of the season.

Ottawa came out of the gate fast, scoring two runs in the first inning. Riley Titus nailed a two-out double, which was followed by Powell’s two-run home run.

“Those two hits really ignited our offense, which has been slumping a bit the last week or so,” Rose said. “We wanted to be the aggressor and we were from the first pitch. Our approach at the plate was the best it has been in awhile. You could tell that we were seeing the ball well and we were being aggressive.”

Ottawa unloaded on Paola in the second inning scoring seven runs.

“We really did a very good job of putting the ball in play, driving it to gaps and pressuring their defense,” Rose said. “We were able to get to their bullpen in the third inning and unlike Tuesday night we kept our foot on the gas and continued to string together hits. One of our keys for the Paola games was to be the aggressor and we did that.”

Powell smashed two home runs and Maddison Soman ripped two doubles in the opener.

The second game was more of the same keyed by Emma Stottlemire’s pitching and hitting performance. The junior tossed a three-hitter.

“We got another great game in the circle from Emma Stottlemire,” Rose said. “She had great command and was also able to get out of some big jams with locating her pitches and keeping Paola off-balance.”

At the plate, she was  4-for-4 with a home run, double and two RBIs. Soman was 2-4 with her first home run.

Stottlemire and Powell hit home runs to spark a six-run second inning.

“We got out of a no-out bases loaded jam in the third with great defense and pitching,” Rose said. “It was a huge momentum swing for us because Paola had the makings of a big inning and we were able to put out the fire.”

Powell’s 11 home runs is the single-season school record and currently leads the state according to MaxPreps. Ottawa has hit 18 home runs as a team.

Game 1 Stat Leaders:

Kirsten Evans 2-4, 2B, 2 RBI.

Riley Titus 2-4, 2B.

Alex Powell 3-3, 2 HR, 1 2B, 3 RBI.

Madison Soman 2-3, 2 2B, 2 RBI.

Kennison Walters 2-3, 1 RBI.

Game 2 Stat Leaders:

Emma Sottlemire 4-4, 2B, HR, 2 RBI.

Riley Titus 3-3, 1 RBI.

Alex Powell 3-4, HR, 4 RBI.

Maddison Soman 2-3, HR 4 RBI.