Lynx small ball Cadets into submission, remain perched atop NCC

Woodle and Miller 3 hits each in WCHS?win

Webster City senior Zoey Woodle lays down a bunt for a single, one of her three infield hits in a 6-0 victory over Iowa Falls-Alden at Lynx Field Friday evening. The win pushed WCHS to 10-1 in the NCC with three games remaining this week. Win all three and the Lynx will claim the league title. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

WEBSTER CITY — Zoey Woodle has 31 hits and a .431 batting average this season, impressive numbers to say the least. And she’s never once hidden how she plans to get on base.

The Webster City senior is going to bunt. A lot. Opponents know it too, and yet so often they’re left scrambling and kicking the dirt as Woodle glides past first unscathed.

“The first one normally throws (teams) off, but that’s kind of my thing,” Woodle said. “I don’t really practice it very much anymore. I just run into it so I can get to first faster.”

Somehow, Woodle caught Iowa Falls-Alden flat-footed three times on Friday at Lynx Field. She beat out three bunt singles, stole three bases and scored two runs in a 6-0 WCHS victory.

“(Woodle) does a great job of hiding it, which works for her, and then she does a great job of pushing it up the first-base line,” WCHS head coach Jess Howard said of her top bunter. “She drops her back foot back and gets into that track stance. She’s almost faster than a slapper on that right side because she’s already running by the time she hits it.”

The WCHS battery of Kaitlynn Seeley (left) and Jenna Miller share a laugh after a circus catch by Seeley behind the plate on Friday. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

Woodle’s bunting prowess and the Lynx ability to smother the Cadets with small ball led to the convincing North Central Conference victory. WCHS (18-5, 10-1 NCC) maintained its spot atop the conference alongside third-ranked (Class 3A) Humboldt (22-2, 8-1 NCC) by pounding out 12 hits and swiping eight bases. Sophomore pitcher Jenna Miller wasn’t too shabby either, as she twirled a four-hitter that included 10 strikeouts.

It was exactly what WCHS needed coming off its only league loss of the season, a 5-3 setback against Humboldt two nights earlier.

“It felt really good and it gave us confidence again that we might have lost against Humboldt,” Woodle said.

Miller joined Woodle with three hits off IF-A (5-21, 2-10 NCC) pitcher Elise Osman. Taylor McKinney and Leah Kasch went the power route to smack two hits each, while Kelly Stoakes and Tatum Goings both singled.

Stoakes and Goings combined to steal four bases as well.

Lynx right fielder Tatum Goings positions herself to field a base hit towards the line during a 6-0 win over Iowa Falls-Alden. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

“We were able to utilize our speed and we were able to take bases,” Howard said. “Being aggressive on the base paths was huge for us.”

WCHS jumped on the Cadets right away with three runs in the first inning courtesy of three hits. Kasch unloaded on a pitch up in the zone and sent a rocket high and deep into the gap in right-center for a two-run triple. She scored moments later on an RBI sacrifice bunt by Atlanta Hopp.

A bloop single on the infield between three IF-A defenders by McKinney in the third inning led to a 4-0 cushion. She stole second, moved to third on a Kasch bash up the middle for a base hit and then trotted home when Miller deposited a base knock into center.

Goings led off the fourth with a base hit that just got past the infield and then proceeded to take second and third. She raced home on a throwing error to make it 5-0.

Later in the fourth, following Woodle’s second infield hit, McKinney torched an Osman offering and sent it on a ride to straightaway center field for an RBI double. McKinney was thrown out trying to stretch it into a triple.

WCHS freshman Kelly Stoakes (7) slides around the tag of Iowa Falls-Alden’s Grace Renaud as she steals one of the Lynx eight bases in their 6-0 victory over the Cadets on Friday. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

IF-A had no such luck against Miller, who has pitched every conference inning for the Lynx. She didn’t allow a hit until an Elliot Wood infield single in the third, and only Grace Renaud made solid contact. Renaud lined a double to right field in the fourth and added a hard-hit single in the sixth.

Miller recorded two strikeouts in four of the innings. Her growth from a season ago has been a key factor in the Lynx charge to the top of the conference standings.

“It’s a little bit of everything with her,” Howard said of Miller. “She’s got the experience under her belt, obviously she’s stronger, both physically and mentally on the mound, and she’s got a lot of natural movement on her ball.”

WCHS will know by week’s end whether or not it can secure its first NCC title since 2013. It will certainly be tested this evening at St. Edmond (12-10, 8-3 NCC), and that rematch against Humboldt looms on Friday.

“Every game is a big game in terms of winning the conference,” Howard said.

WCHS first baseman Cynthia Whitehill fields a ground ball against Iowa Falls-Alden on Friday. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

Webster City 6, IF-Alden 0

Friday at Webster City

IF-Alden 000 000 0 — 0 4 2

Web City 301 200 x — 6 12 0

Elise Osman and Noelle Katschke. Jenna Miller and Kaitlynn Seeley. W — Miller. L — Osman. Multiple hits — IF-A: Grade Renaud; WC: Miller (3), Zoey Woodle (3), Taylor McKinney, Leah Kasch. 2B — IF-A: Renaud; WC: McKinney. 3B — WC: Kasch. RBI — WC: Kasch (2), McKinney, Miller, Atlanta Hopp.