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      Fortified: Bloodhound Baseball rises again

      FORTIFIED: BLOODHOUND BASEBALL RISES AGAIN

      Only two Tri State High Schools have won State Baseball Championships in the last twenty years.

      Jacksonville Routt in 2008. Fort Madison in 2000.

      While the former has remained a state powerhouse ever since, the latter has struggled to regain any measure of its former glory.

      But as Ross Green details from Southeast Iowa....that may fast be changing...

      The seniors of the Fort Madison baseball team noticed long ago that it was time for a change.

      "There were a few of us during our freshman year who wanted to change the program because it wasn't where we wanted it to be. Now I think its starting to show since we're all seniors and starting to make the team how we want it,"

      "We sat down and talked about how we needed to become stronger and stay together as a team to help us go towards a conference title or a state championship possibility,"

      Its been a work in progress, but the 2013 season has so far shown the best evidence of results. Something that 2nd-year head coach Rich McGhghy attributes to the leadership present on his roster.

      "The last couple of weeks, the seniors have really stepped up and taken over that leadership role. We leave a lot of the decision-making in their hands, and with a lot of the teams I've had, I've never really been able to do that,"

      You can't be fooled by Fort Madison's record. 5 wins and 6 losses may not sound like much, but its more than respectable considering who they've played. The 3A Bloodhounds have routinely played up a class, and lost by only a run to Ankeny, the top-ranked club in 4A and arguably the best team in the state. So what's their secret to hanging with the bigger schools? Pitching. And lots of it.

      "As a catcher, its been really good to build relationships with all of our pitchers. Jordan Brecount is really stepping up and is probably our ace, Collin Eaves and Jonathan Temenak are obviously doing a great job, Miles Wentzien and Riley Basham, too - we just have so many guys that can pitch, only 3 or 4 of our guys can't,"

      "What's awesome is that none of the guys that have thrown have had a bad outing, so you just keep throwing somebody out there until you can eliminate one and we haven't been able to do that yet,"

      The Bloodhounds know, however, there's still plenty of season left. And for the team's 8 seniors, that means plenty of time to keep making changes, and hopefully, add another one of these to the outfield fence.

      "I think our team has really worked hard to become what we should be this year. There are a few improvements that we could work on but I think this year we're a whole lot better of a team than we were last year,"

      "We all just try our best all the time and it really is paying off now,"

      "Its not only about this year - we're trying to leave a legacy, something for this year's junior class to build off of and see what a winning program looks like,