Lynx face tall task against No. 13 Boone

BOONE – Can you say upset?

That’s what the members of the Webster City softball team hope to be shouting later tonight, otherwise it will be time to pack the bats and helmets away until next spring.

WCHS (13-17) will open up Class 4A Region 2 play with a quarterfinal date against 13th-ranked Boone (22-9) on the Toreadors home turf at 7 p.m. The winner will advance to Saturday’s semifinal round at 15th-ranked Newton (15-8).

There won’t be many secrets between the two programs that meet on a yearly basis during the regular season. Boone scorched the ball in a 13-5 victory over the Lynx back on June 14. The game was halted after five innings because of rain.

What must WCHS do to put a shock into the Toreadors? Keeping its first three batters off the bases would be a good start.

Boone features a lethal lineup, particularly up top with a blend of speed and power. Lead-off stick Dianna Slight – the Class 3A state track long jump and 400-meter champion in May – is batting .526 with 23 stolen bases. Breanna Hunter bashed 11 home runs and drove in 41 runs to go along with a .476 average during the regular season. Laura Calkins checks in with a .450 average.

Hunter did the most damage in the first meeting against the Lynx. The senior right-hander jacked a home run and two doubles, one of which crashed off the top of the fence in center, and collected six RBI. Slight went 2 for 3, scored three times and plated a run.

Laura Anderson, who is hitting .317, went 4 for 4 with two doubles and three RBI in the previous contest. Boone went off for eight extra-base hits, seven of them doubles, in the eight-run win over WCHS last month.

That’s the daunting task that Lynx senior pitcher Gabbi Hoversten will face. Hoversten, who stayed out of the circle against Boone in June, owns a 13-9 record and 3.68 earned run average.

The odds of keeping the Boone bats silent aren’t great, which is why WCHS will need to find an offensive surge of its own. The Lynx did just that the last time they were in Boone, as they rattled off eight hits and rallied from an early 7-0 deficit to climb to within 7-5 before the Toreadors reasserted themselves.

WCHS is coming off an explosive 13-12 victory over Clear Lake in the regular season finale last week. In that game, freshman Cynthia Whitehill went from having no career home runs to the team lead with two. She’s batting .288 with 13 RBI on the season.

Lynx lead-off hitter Allie Flaws will have to set the table. The five-year starter leads the team at the plate with a .376 average and her 51 stolen bases leads the class. She needs just one more stolen base to become the program’s single-season record holder.

Cassidy Nerland (.376 average) is the only other WCHS starter with an average above .300; she’s driven in 16 runs. Courtney Lampman leads the team in RBI with 24.

Independence (17-22) and Waterloo East (12-26) will meet in the other Region 2 quarterfinal this evening. The winner will move on to tackle fifth-ranked Waverly-Shell Rock (33-6) in Waverly on Saturday.

The regional final is scheduled to take place on Tuesday at 7 p.m. The highest remaining seeded team will host the contest.