Flaws, McKinney among NCC’s elite players
Lynx first-team choices are joined by second-teamers Miller and Woodle, third-teamer Stoakes
WEBSTER CITY — Haley Flaws will walk away from Webster City as a two-time first-team all-North Central Conference softball player, while teammate Taylor McKinney landed on the top squad for the first time, it was announced earlier this week.
WCHS, which finished tied for fourth in the league this season, collected five all-conference honors from the league’s eight coaches. Pitcher Jenna Miller and outfielder Zoey Woodle landed on the second team, while outfielder Kelly Stoakes was named to the third team.
Conference champion and Class 3A state qualifier Humboldt dominated the all-NCC teams with six first-team selections and eight honors in all. Algona secured three first-team slots, while Clear Lake joined WCHS with two.
Unanimous first-team picks included Humboldt pitcher Ellie Jacobson, catcher Mady Lange and outfielder Carlie Thompson, as well as Algona infielder Emma Hjelle.
Flaws, a senior who was somehow denied a unanimous selection, ranked among the league leaders in a bevy of offensive categories. She was second in batting average (.463), hits (50) and runs scored (38), and led the NCC in stolen bases (38). She was thrown out attempting to steal just once.
Over the past two seasons, Flaws has swiped 77 of 80 bases.
“Haley did a tremendous job in that lead-off spot for us,” WCHS head coach Jess Howard said. “There were very few catchers in the state that could probably throw her out.”
Howard also felt Flaws, a Grand View University track and field recruit, showed significant improvement defensively in left field.
“Defensively she was a lot more aggressive this year and really covered a lot of space for us in left field,” Howard said.
McKinney, a sophomore who was a second-team selection in 2016 and 2017, was the Lynx most versatile player and arguably the top defensive player in the conference from her spot at shortstop. Her ability to track down balls to either side and make quick and pinpoint throws to first saved WCHS numerous runs throughout the season.
“When you talk about a kid you talk about all aspects of the game and defense is a great strength for her,” Howard said of McKinney. “Her transition from fielding to throwing is the quickest I’ve seen in a long time.”
McKinney was no slouch at the plate either where she hit .367 with 36 hits and 26 RBIs, the second-most on the team.
“She was very solid in the three spot for us,” Howard said. “You could count on her to do a suicide (bunt), to hit a sac fly, or to get a base hit.”
Miller, a freshman, continued to show steady improvement inside the circle during her first full year as the team’s No. 1 starter. She compiled a 10-10 record and 3.97 ERA with 46 strikeouts in 127 innings of work.
“As long as we can keep her healthy, she’s only going to improve,” Howard said of Miller. “We just have to make sure we continue to work with her on hitting her spots and speed. She had (Atlanta) Hopp pushing her too, which is also why she was able to grow because she knew she had competition for that position.”
Woodle, a junior center fielder and third-team all-NCC choice in 2017, hit between Flaws and McKinney and proved adept at bunting for hits and also driving the ball into the gaps. She concluded the season with a .414 batting average, 41 hits and 14 stolen bases.
“Zoey is hard to defend because as soon as you back off we’re going to let her bunt, and if you come in she’s going to hit for power,” Howard said. “And she did great as the season went on defensively and really progressed in terms of leadership and owning the outfield.”
Stoakes, a welcome addition to the team as an eighth grader and the girl Howard called on to step into the clean-up spot in the order after the season-ending injury to senior Cassidy Nerland, led the team in RBIs with 29, which was the fourth-most in the league. She hit .394 and slugged one home run.
“There were a lot of very good outfielders in the conference this season and I thought Kelly matched up with a lot of them,” Howard said.
Pitcher — *Ellie Jacobson, so, Humboldt; Brooke Fonley, sr, Algona; Kylie Voy, sr, Hampton-Dumont.
Catcher — *Mady Lange, so, Humboldt.
Infield — *Emma Hjelle, sr, Algona; Taylor McKinney, so, Webster City; Julia Merfeld, so, Clear Lake; Jocy Timmerman, so, St. Edmond; Kendal Clark, fr, Humboldt; Jori Hajek, fr, Humboldt.
Outfield — *Carlie Thompson, so, Humboldt; Haley Flaws, sr, Webster City; Sara Faber, so, Clear Lake.
Utility — Ashlyn Clark, jr, Humboldt; Kameryn Etherington, so, Algona.
*Denotes unanimous selection
Pitcher — Jenna Miller, fr, Webster City; Ella Vratny, fr, St. Edmond.
Catcher — Paige Springer, jr, Hampton-Dumont; Kacey Kruthoff, fr, St. Edmond.
Infield — Kyah Arnold, jr, Humboldt; Erin Flattery, jr, St. Edmond; Jacque Oberg, jr, St. Edmond; Nicole Smidt, jr, Algona; Avery Hanson, 8th grade, Hampton-Dumont.
Outfield — Rachel Darling, sr, Humboldt; Macey Mason, jr, St. Edmond; Zoey Woodle, jr, Webster City.
Utility — Faith Nelson, sr, CGD.
Rachel Barillas, sr, Clear Lake; Audrey Kolacia, sr, St. Edmond; Sam Hood, sr, Algona; Macy Mixdorf, jr, Clear Lake; Rylee Kinney, so, St. Edmond; Courtney Miller, so, Hampton-Dumont; Elise Osman, fr, Iowa Falls-Alden; Kelly Stoakes, 8th grade, Webster City.