WEBSTER CITY - Nobody ever said it was going to be easy.
Far, far from it, actually.
The 15th-ranked Webster City softball team will have to win three games next month, two of which would be considered upsets, if it is to end its 12-year state tournament drought.
DFJ photo by Troy Banning
WCHS shortstop Hannah Myers sets her feet and throws to first to record an out during a game at Lynx Field this season. WCHS is currently 17-6.
The Lynx, who haven't been a part of the festivities in Fort Dodge since they won a state championship in 2001, have been placed in Class 4A Region 2 by the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union, which released the postseason pairings in all five classes late yesterday afternoon.
WCHS (17-6) will host a quarterfinal round game against North Central Conference rival Clear Lake (5-12) on Thursday, July 11. The Lynx own two wins over the Lions this season by a combined margin of 21-0.
Awaiting the winner will be fifth-ranked Ballard (18-5), which will host the semifinal in Huxley on Saturday, July 13.
The other side of the bracket includes Charles City (10-10), Decorah (9-13) and 10th-ranked Waverly-Shell Rock (21-6). The Go-Hawks also earned a quarterfinal-round bye.
The postseason news could have been better for WCHS, but it also could have been worse. The Lynx are routinely sent south, which could have meant possible encounters with the likes of No. 4 Carlisle or No. 6 Dallas Center-Grimes.
"We haven't been sent north in a long time, so I'm surprised we did get sent that direction," WCHS head coach Jess Howard, who was the starting first baseman on the Lynx 2001 2A state championship team, said. "We're just going to make the most of what we can in the situation."
The potential battle with Ballard looms large. The Bombers won the 3A state title a season ago and return 10 girls that either started or played in their 5-4 victory over Solon in the championship game. Among the returning players are 2012 3A all-tournament team captain Kenzie Ihle in the pitcher's circle, and fellow all-tournament team contributors Annie Stolte and Sydney Fisher.
But Howard says she'll worry about Ballard when there's something to be worried about. First things first: The Lynx have to get by Clear Lake.
"You can't look past any team because they can take advantage of you if you let them," she said. "You don't want to plan ahead, but if you want to be ready for the next team you do have to plan ahead, so we'll definitely look at Ballard and see what they have to offer and see what we can do against them."
One fun fact: WCHS topped Ballard in a 2A regional final in 2001.
It's not like any road would have been easy though. Truth be told, 4A is arguably the most loaded of the five classes. Ballard and Solon are both in 4A this year, and defending 4A state champ Indianola (No. 8) and runner-up Dallas Center-Grimes are both highly ranked. The class also features one of the state's few remaining unbeatens in No. 3 LeMars.
South Hamilton will begin 2A regional play at Colfax-Mingo Tuesday, July 9. The winner will advance to the quarterfinal round at Traer to take on North Tama on Wednesday, July 10.
Ranked teams in the Hawks' Region 6 include No. 8 Jesup, No. 9 BCLUW and No. 12 Alburnett.
Northeast Hamilton will be at home to take on Southeast Webster-Grand in a 1A Region 3 first-round contest on Monday, July 8. The winner advances to take on Mason City Newman in Mason City on July 10.
Clarksville (No. 4) is the lone ranked team in the Trojets' regional.