BIG 8: LYNX LOAD UP ON NCC AWARDS
Kasch and Stoakes unanimous 1st-team choices, Miller and Woodle also on top squad
WEBSTER CITY — One of the most successful seasons on the diamond during the Jess Howard era paid dividends in the form of North Central Conference accolades.
Webster City received eight all-conference nods, including four of the 14 first-team spots, on the teams that were announced Wednesday night. Humboldt, which won its fourth consecutive conference championship by one game, joined the runner-up Lynx with eight honors. The Wildcats placed a league-high five players on the top team.
“That’s the best we’ve been represented with the all-conference teams since I’ve been coaching and it’s well deserved,” Howard, Webster City’s head coach, said. “The girls had a great season and really performed well all season long.”
WCHS underclassmen Kelly Stoakes, a freshman left fielder, and Leah Kasch, a sophomore third baseman, were unanimous first-team selections. Jenna Miller, a sophomore pitcher, and Zoey Woodle, a senior center fielder, were also named to the first team.
Second-team selections for the Lynx were junior shortstop Taylor McKinney and freshman first baseman Alayna Finucan. On the third team were senior second baseman Atlanta Hopp and junior right fielder Tatum Goings.
Humboldt collected the other four unanimous first-team accolades — pitcher Ellie Jacobson, catcher Mady Lange, infielder Kendal Clark and outfielder Claire Thompson.
Humboldt senior right fielder Ashlyn Clark was named to the second team. Ashlyn Clark is currently undergoing treatment for State 4 Hodgkin’s lymphoma, but returned to Humboldt to take the field with her teammates between chemotherapy sessions throughout the season.
An offseason spent in the weight room and batting cages clearly paid off for the Lynx en route to a 21-win season. Perhaps no players reaped the benefits more than Stoakes and Kasch, who both ranked among the top hitters in the NCC.
Stoakes was second in the league with a .521 batting average that included two home runs and 21 RBIs. The freshman was the hottest hitter in the state during May, as she hit .815 (22 of 27) through the initial seven games.
Kasch led the conference in RBIs with 35. She bashed four home runs and her .439 batting average ranked ninth among league hitters.
“We’re really lucky we’ve got a place where the girls can go to hit all year long,” Howard said, alluding to Webster City business Diamond in the Rough, which is owned by Dave and Kim Stoakes, the parents of Kelly Stoakes. “The girls took the opportunity to get in there and use the facilities we have in town to better themselves. It just goes to show what can happen when you take the time to put yourself out there.”
Woodle utilized her speed to hit at a .444 clip, eighth-best in the league. She stole 22 bases in 23 attempts and was one of the better outfield defenders among the eight programs.
No WCHS player improved from the previous season more than Miller, who pitched every NCC inning for the club. She went 15-6 overall inside the circle with a 2.17 ERA and 104 strikeouts.
Finucan cranked out a .319 batting average in her first season in the starting lineup. McKinney hit just .214 with one dinger and 14 RBIs, but continued to possess one of the best gloves in the league.
Goings and Hopp hit .275 and .273, respectively. Hopp drove in 12 runs, while Goings stole 19 bases.
North Central Conference
Pitcher — *Ellie Jacobson, jr, Humboldt; Jenna Miller, soph, Webster City.
Catcher — *Mady Lange, jr, Humboldt.
Infield — *Leah Kasch, soph, Webster City; *Kendal Clark, soph, Humboldt; Triston Rew, sr, Hampton-Dumont/CAL; Julia Merfeld, jr, Clear Lake; Jori Hajek, soph, Humboldt.
Outfield — *Kelly Stoakes, fr, Webster City; *Claire Thompson, jr, Humboldt; Zoey Woodle, sr, Webster City.
Utility/DH — Erin Flattery, sr, St. Edmond; Kameryn Etherington, jr, Algona; Avery Hanson, fr, Hampton-Dumont/CAL.
*Denotes unanimous selection
Pitcher — Elise Osman, soph, Iowa Falls-Alden; Ella Vratny, soph, St. Edmond.
Catcher — Paige Springer, sr, Hampton-Dumont/CAL.
Infield — Taylor McKinney, jr, Webster City; Alayna Finucan, fr, Webster City; Nicole Smidt, sr, Algona; Alyssa Hentges, jr, Algona; Jocy Timmerman, jr, St. Edmond.
Outfield — Ashlyn Clark, sr, Humboldt; Sara Faber, jr, Clear Lake; Courtney Miller, jr, Hampton-Dumont/CAL.
Utility/DH — Macy Mixdorf, sr, Clear Lake; Claire Varangkounh, jr, Humboldt.
Atlanta Hopp, sr, Webster City; Tatum Goings, jr, Webster City; Megan Askelsen, sr, Clarion-Goldfield-Dows; Jacque Oberg, sr, St. Edmond; Grace Renaud, sr, Iowa Falls-Alden; Courtney Harle, jr, Clarion-Goldfield-Dows; Ashlin Young, jr, Algona; Addie Thompson, 8th grade, Humboldt.