BACK-2-BACK: LYNX HANDLE HUMBOLDT, SIT ALL ALONE ON TOP OF NCC
Olson continues to shine on mound with 13 strikeouts over 62?3 innings; Hisler lands first haymaker with RBI double
WEBSTER CITY — With a river of sweat pouring down from his forehead, Webster City head baseball coach Adison Kehoe turned to William Shakespeare to offer a glimpse into the psyche of his all-state pitcher, Tyler Olson, as darkness enveloped Lynx Field Wednesday evening.
“Heavy lies the crown,” Kehoe said, a reference to the quote ‘uneasy lies the head that wears the crown’ from Henry IV, Part 2. “It’s not in his DNA to be the hoo-rah guy, but he’s the go-to guy whether he wants to be or not. He’s stepped up in his own way to be that guy.”
Olson, a junior, might not be vocally demonstrative, but his lively fastball and straight up nasty curve do plenty of talking. He’s never been better than he was against Humboldt on Wednesday either, and that’s saying something.
With a second straight North Central Conference title on the line, Olson was stunning over 62⁄3 innings. He limited Humboldt (7-4, 3-1 NCC) to three hits and one earned run, and struck out 13 — seven of them looking — to help propel WCHS to a 5-2 victory.
Whether or not WCHS (10-3, 5-0 NCC) will receive a trophy from the league or officially be recognized as the NCC champion is still up for debate. Because St. Edmond and Iowa Falls-Alden both dealt with suspended seasons due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the conference athletic directors will meet at season’s end to determine a ruling.
Trophy or no trophy, WCHS sits alone on top of the standings.
“We wanted this one a lot,” WCHS freshman CJ Hisler, who went 2 for 3 with an RBI double against Humboldt, said afterwards. “The pressure was there and the intensity was there to match it.”
Hisler’s line-drive shot off Humboldt hurler Jacob Thurm that flew over the head of right fielder Levi Newton in the second inning opened the floodgate for a five-run outburst over a two-inning stretch for the Lynx. Olson and Sean Carver preceded Hisler with back-to-back singles, and Hisler’s shot brought the WCHS dugout to life. Trey Lyons drove in another run right after Hisler to give the Lynx an early 2-0 lead.
“I was just looking for something to hit,” Hisler said. “It seemed to be (the spark) we needed at that point.”
Four more hits — singles by Chase Rattenborg, Ty McKinney, Olson and Carver — in the third frame pushed three more runs across to up the Lynx cushion to 5-1. McKinney, who went 2 for 3, plated Rattenborg with his screamer into left, and he sprinted to the dish on Olson’s bloop base hit to center. Olson later scored on a Humboldt error.
Kehoe said he stressed the importance of a fast start to his team prior to the game, and his players answered the call.
“This was not going to be a game where we could start in the fourth inning,” Kehoe said. “You can’t do that against a team like that, against a pitcher like that. You have to be on the attack early, that was our mindset.”
And that was all Olson needed to take over.
Noticing a generous strike zone on the outside portion of the plate early on, Olson lived low and away from Humboldt’s right-handed hitters. He struck out two batters in four innings, and three in the sixth.
“If you put it low and outside both, it’s almost untouchable because they’ve only got a 34-inch bat to get there,” Olson said. “We’ve been talking about this game for a while. To win a game like this, with no seniors, just proves that we’ve still got it.”
Olson is now 4-0 with a 0.68 ERA on the season. His career pitching numbers — 15-1 with a 0.68 ERA and 152 strikeouts — are even more impressive. In 1021⁄3 career innings, he’s allowed only 10 earned runs.
“The kid is a symbol of what talent is, but also what talent can do with hard work,” Kehoe said of Olson.
Olson was forced off the mound with two outs in the seventh due to pitch count limitations. McKinney came on and got Humboldt’s Cade Witzke to fly out to Connor Hanson in center to end the contest.
Joshua Thurm and Colby Clarken both doubled for the Wildcats, and Caden Matson added a single. Clarken’s rope to left-center in the sixth plated just the third earned run Olson has allowed this season.
WCHS, which has won six straight contests, will look to finish off an unblemished NCC slate on Monday when it hits the road to take on Iowa Falls-Alden. Olson briefly celebrated the win over Humboldt, but said he won’t fully embrace the league crown until the Lynx beat IF-A in the regular season finale.
“It doesn’t really feel like (a conference title) yet,” he said. “I think we’ll feel that once we go to Iowa Falls and hopefully get that one.”
WCHS will open up the postseason with a Class 3A District 2 semifinal against Algona next Friday at Lynx Field.
Webster City 5, Humboldt 2
Wednesday at Webster City
Humboldt 001 001 0 — 2 3 3
Web City 023 000 x — 5 9 2
Jacob Thurm and Colby Clarken. Tyler Olson, Ty McKinney (7) and Devon Stoakes. WP — Olson. LP — Ja. Thurm. Multiple hits — WC: McKinney, Olson, Sean Carver, CJ Hisler. 2B — HUM: Clarken, Joshua Thurm; WC: Hisler. RBI — HUM: Clarken; WC: McKinney, Olson, Hisler, Trey Lyons.