LEAH KASCH aka THE BOONE BASHER
Lynx clean-up stick key to first win over Toreadors since 2013
BOONE — Coincidence or kismet, Leah Kasch isn’t sure, but whatever the reason she seems to be a human chunk of kryptonite for Boone.
Need proof? Here you go.
Last November, it was Kasch’s buzzer-beating floater from inside the lane that gave the Webster City girls’ basketball team a 47-45 win over Boone, a first for the Lynx program over the Toreadors in close to 10 years.
The junior was in the spotlight versus Boone again on Tuesday, as she drove in the tying run in the sixth inning and then plated another in the eighth to help propel the 14th-ranked (Class 4A) WCHS softball team to a come-from-behind 7-4 victory over the Toreadors, the Lynx first over their non-conference rival in more than seven years.
Kasch ended a nine-game losing streak on the basketball court and played a leading role in ending a 10-game skid on the softball diamond.
“This is huge,” a beaming Kasch said after going 2 for 4 with two RBIs and a run scored out of the clean-up position. “Boone has always been like a rival to us and we were excited throughout the whole game. Even though it’s a non-conference game, it’s big for us.”
In the previous 10 meetings, Boone outscored WCHS 108-34 since the Lynx last came out on top on June 11, 2013.
“Boone is always tough to battle, so we did pretty well,” WCHS pitcher Jenna Miller said after she allowed nine hits, one earned run and struck out six to earn the win. “I knew we could do it.”
It didn’t always look like it would materialize though. With the contest knotted at 2 in the bottom of the seventh, Boone (1-1) put runners on second and third with just one out. WCHS head coach Jess Howard elected to intentionally walk Zoey Hightshoe to load the bases and it paid off. Miller got Victoria Lewis to hit a bouncer to Taylor McKinney at shortstop and she fired home to force out the potential winning run. Alex McDonough then popped out on the infield to get the Lynx out of the jam and force extra innings.
“The girls held themselves together really well and that seventh inning was huge for them because they could have easily folded,” Howard said. “Taking the decision-making out of the game and putting the pressure on the hitter to produce a run really benefited us there, and we did what we had to do.”
Whether that Houdini-like act on the part of the Lynx energized them or caused Boone’s balloon to burst is up for debate, but WCHS seized the momentum and unleashed a five-run eighth inning that included three hits and three Toreador errors.
The first seven WCHS batters reached base in the eighth, keyed by singles by Tatum Goings, Alayna Finucan and Kasch’s RBI knock through the left side. And the Toreadors wilted under the pressure.
Boone plated a pair of unearned runs in the last half of the eighth, but its hopes of a big comeback faded when WCHS right fielder Addie Tesdahl made a running grab in right-center on a laser that came off the bat of Emily Ades with two outs.
Finucan and Kasch helped WCHS tie the game at 2 in the sixth. Boone pitcher Kennedy Lewis had retired 14 consecutive batters until Finucan punched a one-out single into center. Taylor McKinney reached on a bunt single and two batters later Kasch lined a two-out shot just inside the foul line in left field to plate Finucan with the tying run.
Finucan joined Kasch with two hits and they combined to score four runs.
“Both of those girls are used to playing in pressure situations in multiple sports,” Howard said. “When you have that, you know they’re going to come through and they’re the ones that want to be in a position to make a big play or get a big hit.”
Kasch credited Finucan for lifting the team out of the offensive malaise.
“Her hit was huge because we were in a hole,” Kasch said. “Getting that first hit really pumped us up.”
WCHS jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning courtesy of a Kelly Stoakes RBI single, but Boone answered with the tying run in the fourth and then went ahead 2-1 an inning later.
Ades and Emma Dighton accounted for six of Boone’s nine hits and they both found the gap for a double.
Miller and Harper Kopriva both drove in a run for the Lynx in the eighth inning.
WCHS was at home last night to take on 10th-ranked (Class 3A) Algona in a key early-season North Central Conference clash. The two teams will meet again on Friday, in Algona, in a non-conference contest.
Webster City 7, Boone 4 (8 inn)
Tuesday at Boone
Web City 100 001 05 — 7 7 3
Boone 000 110 02 — 4 9 3
Jenna Miller and Kelly Stoakes. Kennedy Lewis and Zoey Hightshoe. WP — Miller. LP — Lewis. Multiple hits — WC: Alayna Finucan, Leah Kasch; BO: Emma Dighton (3), Emily Ades (3). 2B — BO: Dighton, Ades. RBI — WC: Kasch (2), Stoakes, Miller, Harper Kopriva.