Lynx show their youth in loss to Hawks
Steen drops first decision on mound since 2016; Olson drives in 3 runs
GRANGER — As much as Adison Kehoe tried to talk a good game in the days and weeks leading up to his Webster City baseball team’s season opener, he knew it was coming. How could he not?
WCHS didn’t just lose six starters off last season’s team. It lost six starters who were two-, three- and sometimes four-year mainstays in the lineup. The group includes a two-time first-team all-state pitcher, the best defensive catcher the program has produced since Kehoe himself crouched behind the plate more than a decade ago, and a pair of four-year starters in the middle of the infield.
In other words, the growing pains were inevitable.
Woodward-Granger took full advantage of the new-look and inexperienced Lynx Wednesday night to the tune of a 13-7 romp that wasn’t close after the Hawks erupted for five runs in the second inning.
Midway through the contest, WCHS (0-1) had a pair of freshman and three eighth graders in the lineup.
Woodward-Granger played small ball, swiped bases at will and forced WCHS into making quick decisions it simply wasn’t ready to make.
“There are going to be some growing pains and we know that,” Kehoe said. “There were first-game jitters and you can take as many reps as you want in practice, but until you get into a game against another team you’re not going to know what it’s like. And give Granger credit because they’re always fundamentally sound.”
Here’s what the Lynx youngsters need to keep in mind: Those veterans they’re replacing also lost to Woodward-Granger in 2017 and 2018.
The Hawks collected just seven hits, several of which were on bunts, but they took advantage of six WCHS errors. There were also four passed balls and seven stolen bases.
Only three of W-G’s 13 runs were earned.
Dylan Steen, a senior who was a second-team all-state pitcher during an 8-0 campaign a season ago for WCHS, suffered his first loss on the bump since July of 2016. The hard-throwing right-hander allowed five hits and two earned runs in three innings. Caleb Olson, another senior, took over in the fourth and went the rest of the way. Both pitchers walked three and struck out four.
“My older kids like Caleb and Dylan and (second baseman Carson) Struchen, they get it,” Kehoe said. “This was a good experience for those three just to see the kind of team we have this year. They have to remember that it wasn’t long ago that they were these young kids.”
Steen and Olson accounted for four of the Lynx six hits. Olson roped a pair of doubles and drove in three runs. Devon Stoakes and Sean Carver added singles.
Joe Rhodes and Jay Dorenkamp had two hits each for W-G.
WCHS jumped out to an early 2-0 lead behind a two-out error by the Hawks in the first inning. Rhodes got one back on a RBI double in the bottom of the first and then tacked on a two-RBI single to right in the second inning. W-G sent eight batters to the dish in the frame and put up five runs despite just two hits, one of which was a bunt single.
W-G scored twice more in the third without ever hitting the ball out of the infield and made it 11-3 in the fourth with nothing more than a bunt base hit.
WCHS closed to within 11-6 in the fifth. A one-out single to right by Steen ignited a flurry. Following back-to-back walks to Stoakes and Tyler Olson, Caleb Olson sliced a shot down the right-field line that brought two around. Tyler Olson scored moments later on a wild pitch.
The Hawks answered once again in the bottom of the frame courtesy of a two-run single to left by Hunter Pifer.
Steen singled again in the seventh and eventually scored on a sacrifice fly to left by Tyler Olson.
The top four batters in the WCHS lineup — Steen, Stoakes and the Olson brothers — accounted for five of the team’s six hits and all seven runs.
“We were putting the ball in play, that’s the good thing, and it’s not like we gave up,” Kehoe said. “This was good for us and it’s like I told the guys, we can hang our heads and sulk, or we can figure things out.”
Wood-Granger 13, Webster City 7
Wednesday at Granger
Web City 201 030 1 — 7 6 6
Wo-Grang 152 320 x — 13 7 1
Dylan Steen, Caleb Olson (4) and Sean Carver, Devon Stoakes (4). Alex Brice, Worth Henry (5) and Tate Lettow. WP — Brice. LP — Steen. Multiple hits — WC: Steen, C. Olson; W-G: Joe Rhodes, Jay Dorenkamp. 2B — WC: C. Olson (2); W-G: Rhodes. RBI — WC: C. Olson (3), Tyler Olson; W-G: Rhodes (3), Hunter Pifer (2), Bryce Achenbach, Trevor Simmons.