WCHS wins second straight 1-run NCC game on Whitehill safety squeeze

WCHS pitcher Jenna Miller (16) high-fives head coach Jess Howard as teammates Leah Kasch (left) and Kaitlynn Seeley join the celebration following a Miller catch to end the fourth inning against Algona on Friday. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

WEBSTER CITY — Cynthia Whitehill has a violent uppercut swing and when she makes contact that ball may want to pack its bags because it’s going on a trip.

But it wasn’t the Webster City senior’s power stroke that made the difference at Lynx Field Friday night. Quite the opposite, in fact.

With WCHS leading North Central Conference rival Algona 2-1 in the fifth inning, Whitehill laid down a perfectly-executed safety squeeze bunt towards the first-base line that allowed Leah Kasch to race home with an important insurance run in the Lynx 3-2 victory.

All of the little things, like Whitehill’s two sacrifice bunts, keyed the Lynx second straight one-run league victory.

“(Whitehill) did a great job of staying focused and executing what we needed to get done in that situation,” WCHS head coach Jess Howard said. “Small ball is really hard to defend. It’s not going far, but it’s hard to make that split-second decision of what to do with the ball. That run was just as good as any power hit for us in that situation.”

WCHS catcher Kaitlynn Seeley (left) grimaces after she was unable to reel in a throw from the outfield during the second inning against Algona on Friday. Algona’s Morgan Erpelding (24) scored. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

WCHS (5-2, 2-0 NCC) rattled off eight hits, including a double by Kasch.

Kelly Stoakes continued to be a human migraine headache to opposing pitchers, as the Lynx freshman lead-off hitter went 3 for 4 with an RBI. Her string of seven consecutive hits ended in the fourth inning when she reached on an error, but she followed it up by lining a single into left in the sixth.

Stoakes, now hitting .815 on the season, tied the game at 1 in the second with a line shot back up the middle that scored Atlanta Hopp, who jumped aboard with a one-out single to right field. Rather than pitch around Stoakes with first base open, Algona pitcher Kameryn Etherington challenged her and paid the price.

Was Howard surprised Algona (2-2, 0-1 NCC) opted to pitch to Stoakes in that situation? She sidestepped the question somewhat.

“I’ve very happy they pitched to her,” Howard said. “There are going to be teams that stop pitching to her and we’ll have to adjust to that. But right now we’ll take what we can get.”

Algona pitcher Kameryn Etherington gives WCHS freshman Kelly Stoakes a pitch to hit and she deposits it in center field for a RBI single in the second inning on Friday. Stoakes went 3 for 4 in the Lynx 3-2 victory and is now hitting .815 on the season through seven games. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

Stoakes’ 22 hits through seven games leads the state.

Jenna Miller produced a pair of hits for the Lynx and drove in the go-ahead run in the third. Kasch led off the frame by ripping an Etherington offering into the gap in right-center for a double. Kasch moved to third on the first of Whitehill’s two sacrifice bunts and then trotted home when Miller launched a base hit into center to give WCHS a 2-1 lead.

Miller, a sophomore, also had one of her better outings inside the pitcher’s circle. She surrendered seven hits, but struck out four and allowed her defense to do the work behind her to pick up the win.

“It’s a really huge win because now we know what we’re capable of and we know we can do big things,” Miller said.

Miller helped herself out in the fourth inning. With Lillian Etherington on third with two outs, Morgan Erpelding roasted a liner right back at Miller. The pitcher instinctively got a glove on the ball, popped it straight up into the air, and then hauled it in for the final out. She still had a smile on her face when she reached the dugout.

WCHS senior Zoey Woodle takes her lead off second base against Algona on Friday. She had a bunt single in the Lynx 3-2 victory. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

“I was just really hoping I didn’t drop it,” Miller said. ‘I wanted to get that out.”

Erpelding drove in the first run of the game with a second-inning RBI single.

Algona closed to within a run in the seventh on a two-out RBI single by Kameryn Etherington. Nicole Smidt followed with a hard grounder up the middle, but WCHS shortstop Taylor McKinney fielded the ball and then dove to tag a sliding Etherington before she reached second base.

WCHS made just one defensive miscue, but did strand eight runners on base, five of them in scoring position. The Lynx had the bases loaded with only one out in the first, but Kameryn Etherington notched back-to-back strikeouts to remove herself from the jam.

Emma Elsbecker and Kameryn Etherington had two hits each for the Bulldogs.

Lynx freshman Alayna Finucan lays down a bunt against Algona. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

WCHS will look for its fourth consecutive victory this evening when it travels to Clear Lake to face the Lions at 7:30 p.m.

Webster City 3, Algona 2

Friday at Webster City

Algona 010 000 1 — 2 7 3

Web City 011 010 x — 3 8 1

Kameryn Etherington and Lillian Etherington. Jenna Miller and Kaitlynn Seeley. WP — Miller. LP — K. Etherington. Multiple hits — ALG: K. Etherington, Emma Elsbecker; WC: Kelly Stoakes (3), Miller. 2B — ALG: Ashlin Young; WC: Leah Kasch. RBI — ALG: K. Etherington, Morgan Erpelding; WC: Stoakes, Miller, Cynthia Whitehill.