TIME TO VENT
No. 15 Lynx take out recent frustrations on Clear Lake
WEBSTER CITY — Seething a bit following back-to-back losses to ninth-ranked (Class 3A) Algona, the Webster City softball team needed to release some frustration before it faces second-ranked (3A) Humboldt this evening.
Clear Lake just happened to be in the line of fire.
Spotting the Lions a 2-0 lead after a half-inning, 15th-ranked (4A) Webster City got the bats rolling right away and never really relented in a much-needed 8-2 victory Monday night at Lynx Field.
Six players had at least one hit and WCHS (3-2, 2-1 NCC) touched Clear Lake pitcher Alivia Hauge for 10 hits in all, seven of them coming in the first and third innings when the Lynx erupted for a combined six runs.
“We needed this pretty bad,” WCHS senior Taylor McKinney, who went 2 for 2 and scored two runs, said. “We were down coming into this, but we knew we could pick ourselves up.”
Jenna Miller provided the heaviest lumber, as the clean-up hitter rocked Hauge for three hits and three RBIs. Her two-run liner into left in the first inning knotted the game at 2. She added another hit in the third — a rocket that smacked off the fence in left — and then went up the middle for an RBI single in the sixth.
Alayna Finucan joined McKinney with two hits, highlighted by an RBI bloop base hit to right in the fourth. An inning earlier she looped the ball over the head of Lions’ right fielder Delaney Eden for a base hit, and she eventually scored on an RBI knock to center by Addie Tesdahl.
A slap hitter from the left side, Finucan has made hitting it where they’re not an art form with her array of bloopers just over the infield and in front of the outfield.
“I definitely practice it,” Finucan said. “We have tape in the (batting) cage on where we should hit it.”
Faith Anderson roped a first-inning double in the win. Kelly Stoakes ignited a first-inning three-run outburst with a lead-off single to left-center.
Both of Clear Lake’s runs were unearned in the first inning. The Lions also had their only two hits in their first at bat — a double to left by Sara Faber and a two-out, two-RBI single by Emeny Brattrud.
Over the final six innings, Clear Lake was no match for Miller.
The Lynx junior hurler allowed just one base runner after the first inning and retired the final 13 batters she faced. Miller recorded 12 strikeouts against just one walk.
A pitch-to-contact hurler prior to this season, Miller has transformed into a strikeout pitcher. She’s averaging 9.4 per game, 11 over the last three outings.
“She worked really hard in the offseason to develop movement pitches,” WCHS head coach Jess Howard said of Miller. “She’s gotten faster, but I think her movement is what’s helped her out quite a bit. Her change-up is really keeping hitters off-balance. Then she’s got her curve working for her and her rise ball when she needs it. She’s got those strikeout pitches that you need.”
Miller will need her entire arsenal this evening when WCHS heads to Humboldt for its showdown with the Wildcats, winners of the last four North Central Conference titles. Humboldt (4-0) averages 12.8 runs per game and has outscored its foes 51-5 this season.
And WCHS can’t wait to see if it can bring the Wildcats back to Earth.
“We’re super excited for the game,” Finucan said. “We have a great rivalry with Humboldt, so it’s going to be a good game. Everyone knows what we need to do and what we need to execute.”
Execution, particularly defensively, will be key. Humboldt loves to utilize its speed to apply pressure — at bat after at bat, inning after inning.
“You almost have to be 100 percent in the field if not perfect,” McKinney said. “It’s always huge when you play Humboldt. They’ve won the (conference title) the last four years and I want to take them down.”
With the league crown on the line last July, Humboldt eked out a 1-0 eight-inning win over WCHS, a game in which Miller and her counterpart, Wildcats’ all-state hurler Ellie Jacobson, combined to surrender just five hits.
Webster City 8, Clear Lake 2
Monday at Webster City
Cl Lake 200 000 0 — 2 2 3
Web City 303 101 x — 8 10 1
Alivia Hauge and Layne Lester. Jenna Miller and Kelly Stoakes. WP — Miller. LP — Hauge. Multiple hits — WC: Miller (3), Taylor McKinney, Alayna Finucan. 2B — CL: Sara Faber; WC: Faith Anderson. RBI — CL: Emeny Brattrud (2); WC Miller (3), Finucan, Addie Tesdahl.