Mohawks rally from 6-0 hole to stun No. 15 Lynx in 4A regional semi

Webster City senior Atlanta Hopp drops to the dirt moments after the Lynx lost to Mason City, 7-6 in 8 innings, in a Class 4A Region 3 semifinal Saturday night at Lynx Field. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

WEBSTER CITY — For some players like Atlanta Hopp, the pain was immediate. For others like Leah Kasch, it took a few minutes for the stunning realization to hit home.

Hopp wept and Kasch stared blankly ahead, neither quite believing what happened.

Sports, ladies and gentlemen. The love-hate relationship never ends.

Ahead 6-0 and seemingly on its way to the next round, 15th-ranked Webster City hit a fifth-inning speed bump and Mason City played long ball to score seven unanswered runs in a stunning come-from-behind 7-6 victory in 8 innings in a Class 4A Region 3 semifinal at Lynx Field Saturday night.

Mason City (18-21) got all six runs back in the fifth, four of them coming on a grand slam by Sami Miller, and notched the game-winning run in the top of the eighth on another dinger — a solo shot by Shaye Theobald.

WCHS junior Taylor McKinney calls herself safe as she beats out a throw on a sacrifice bunt against the Mohawks. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

“It’s a matter of them beating us in one inning,” WCHS head coach Jess Howard, herself still absorbing the loss, said moments after the final on-field meeting of the season with her players. “You’ve got to play it for 21 and in this case 24 outs, but this time it didn’t go our way.”

WCHS pitcher Jenna Miller retired the first 14 Mohawk batters she faced and the fifth inning started innocently enough with back-to-back outs. But Bri Notermann’s single past Hopp at second base broke up Miller’s perfect game and set the wheels in motion for a disastrous 15 minutes for the Lynx.

Back-to-back errors loaded the bases, but the second miscue on an infield pop-up very well could have and maybe should have ended the threat without any damage done.

Lainna Duncan hit a short blooper just past the pitcher’s circle, a ball that is usually WCHS shortstop Taylor McKinney’s play to make. But McKinney collided with Notermann, who was running towards third, and was taken out of the play. The ball eventually skidded off the glove of Miller and kept the inning alive.

Howard argued interference should have been called. The three umpires huddled and disagreed with her assessment.

Kaitlynn Seeley (front) uses her chest protector to shield her emotions while Tatum Goings wipes the tears off her face following 15th-ranked Webster City’s 7-6, 8-inning loss to Mason City in a Class 4A Region 3 semifinal at Lynx Field Saturday night. WCHS finished the season at 21-7. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

Had Notermann been tagged with interference, she would have been ruled out and the inning would have been over with WCHS still in command, 6-0.

“Its a rule and it’s got to be enforced,” Howard said. “But if it’s not enforced you’ve got to make sure you get the next out.

“Anytime our shortstop can catch the ball, we’re going to have her catch the ball. If she can catch it at the plate, we’re going to let her.”

Meredith McGee followed the controversial play with a two-RBI single to right field to cut the Lynx lead to 6-2. Miller hit Alicia Hoeft with the next pitch and Miller followed with the no-doubt grand slam to left to level the contest at 6.

Theobald’s one-out blast in the eighth, also to left, gave Mason City its first lead of the night.

WCHS senior Zoey Woodle checks the signs before stepping to the plate against Mason City on Saturday. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

WCHS had its chances to extend the game or win it in the bottom of the eighth. Leah Kasch led off with a single and Atlanta Hopp reached after her sacrifice bunt was misplayed.

But staring at runners at second and third with no outs, Mohawks’ pitcher McKenna Mentink buckled down. She danced out of trouble with a line-out, a strikeout and a fly out, and just like that Mason City had punched its ticket to Tuesday’s regional final.

“It’s hard to end whenever it happens, but this just wasn’t where we wanted it to end,” Howard said.

WCHS out-hit Mason City 8-5 and built its early 6-0 cushion behind five knocks, three of which were doubles.

Tatum Goings drove in the first run of the game with a single to right in the second inning, and two batters later Cynthia Whitehill belted a Mentink pitch off the fence in left for an RBI double.

Lynx first baseman Alayna Finucan shows the ball to the umpire after stretching to make a catch against the Mohawks. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

Kasch ripped a two-run double down the left-field line and then scored moments later on a Hopp RBI safety squeeze bunt in the third to make it 5-0.

Whitehill’s second double, this time to straightaway center, led to the sixth run in the fourth.

Kasch and Whitehill both finished 2 for 4 at the plate. Miller, Kelly Stoakes and Zoey Woodle all added singles.

Mason City will travel to Charles City to face the fourth-ranked Comets (34-3) for the right to advance to state tomorrow. Meanwhile, WCHS will pack everything away for the year as it says goodbye to five seniors — Woodle, Whitehill, Hopp, Kaitlynn Seeley and Maddie Dyvig — that provided the leadership for the Lynx most successful season since 2013.

“You’ve got to take away from it the strides you made for the program and where we’ve taken the program in one summer,” Howard said.

Mason City 7, Webster City 6 (8)

Class 4A Region 3 Semifinal

Saturday at Webster City

Mas City 000 060 01 — 7 5 3

Web City 023 100 00 — 6 8 3

McKenna Mentink and Lainna Duncan. Jenna Miller and Kaitlynn Seeley. W — Mentink. L — Miller. Multiple hits — WC: Leah Kasch, Cynthia Whitehill. 2B — MC: Anna Lensing; WC: Whitehill (2), Kasch. HR — MC: Sami Miller, Shaye Theobald. RBI — MC: Miller (4), Meredith McGee (2), Theobald; WC: Kasch (2), Whitehill, Atlanta Hopp, Tatum Goings.