MAX 2.0? Following the path laid out by Hackbarth, Steen currently untouchable when he’s on mound
WCHS junior fans 11, runs scoreless innings streak to 13 in 5-inning romp over St. Edmond
WEBSTER CITY — Webster City junior Dylan Steen had a front-row seat a season ago to the ascension of Max Hackbarth on the mound, and as he watched he asked himself one question: Why not me?
Hackbarth worked hard, maniacal at times, between his sophomore and junior seasons. Steen knew he could do that, too. Hackbarth sharpened his mental game as much as anything else. And through four starts, it’s safe to say Steen has done that as well.
“He really inspired me last year that if you really work … it really pushes me to follow in his tracks and do what he did,” Steen said Monday night following his latest gem on the bump in a 10-0, five-inning beating of Fort Dodge St. Edmond in North Central Conference play. “It’s an upperclassmen thing, too. Once you reach that junior/senior thing, you get to a different maturity and work ethic pushes you further.”
After recording just 29 strikeouts in 221⁄3 innings of work a season ago, Steen upped his Class 3A-leading Ks total to 54 in 24 innings with 11 more against the Gaels. He fanned the final seven batters he faced.
Now 4-0 with back-to-back complete-game one-hitters, Steen ran his scoreless innings to streak to 13 and lowered his ERA to 0.88. Opponents are hitting just .131 off the hard-throwing right-hander.
Steen, who can run his fastball up to the plate in the mid-80s, was a bit wild in the opening two innings, which resulted in a pair of walks. But when he began painting his pitches at the knees on the outside corner, there was nothing St. Edmond’s hitters could do but shake their hands as they walked back to the dugout.
“I came out and I was rushing through my mechanics for some reason, but I made the adjustment and came back from that,” Steen said. “I like to live low, that’s what I worked on in the offseason.”
WCHS head coach Adison Kehoe has known Steen had the talent to be dominant ever since he stepped into the lineup as an eighth grader in 2015. Kehoe says it’s been his mental growth that has transformed him into a nearly untouchable pitcher.
“Pitching is between the ears and he’s got that edge now,” Kehoe said. “You can just sense a maturity in him. He’s one of those kids that’s always had the tools, but now he just seems very relaxed.”
The league-leading Lynx (9-1, 5-0 NCC) upped their winning streak to eight straight games. They cracked seven hits, but feasted mostly on 13 walks by St. Edmond (4-6, 2-4 NCC) pitchers Jack McEvoy and Peyton Scott.
McEvoy walked five and hit another batter in the first inning and issued 11 free passes before he exited with two outs in the third.
Kehoe wasn’t thrilled with his team’s all-singles offense and five strikeouts, but said it wasn’t easy to find pitches to hit.
“I was way too agitated afterwards,” he said. “When you’re seeing one strike per 10 pitches, it’s hard, and anyone would get anxious. But we still need to do better as far as 3-1 counts or 2-0 pitches.”
Noah McKinney went 2 for 2 and scored three runs out of the No. 2 spot in the Lynx lineup. Steen, Romel Martinez, Caleb Olson, Cameron Moen and Austin Lampman all registered one hit. Olson collected four RBIs, Steen finished with three, while Moen and Lampman both had one.
Olson drew a bases-loaded walk in the first inning, hit a two-RBI single into right in the second and then bashed a long RBI sac fly to center in the fifth. Moen ended the game one batter later when he hammered a shot to deep left field to plate the Lynx 10th run.
Earlier in the seventh, Steen hit a ball between shortstop and third that got through for a two-RBI single. He also walked with the bases jammed in the third inning.
St. Edmond’s lone hit came on a Noah Carlson infield single in the first frame.
WCHS will hand the ball to Hackbarth this evening when it heads to Humboldt to take on the Wildcats at 7:30 p.m. Hackbarth, a senior southpaw, has won his previous 10 decisions and will take a 3-0 record and 0.84 ERA to the hill. Teams are hitting just .062 against him.
Web City 10, St. Edmond 0 (5 inn.)
Monday at Webster City
St. Edmond 000 00 — 0 1 1
Web City 321 04 — 10 7 1
Jack McEvoy, Peyton Scott (3) and Jake Szalat, Joe Li (3). Dylan Steen and Jordan Tanner. W — Steen. L — McEvoy. Multiple hits — WC: Noah McKinney. RBI — WC: Caleb Olson (4), Steen (3), Cameron Moen, Austin Lampman.