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Gaels start fast, Lynx take 1st NCC tumble

Stoakes 2 for 3, 2 RBIs at top of order

FORT DODGE — After a rocky start to the season, an argument could be made that no North Central Conference softball team is playing better currently than St. Edmond.

The Gaels made their case on Wednesday in a convincing 5-2 victory over Webster City, which entered the contest unbeaten in the league.

St. Edmond (7-3, 4-1 NCC) roughed up WCHS starting pitcher Jenna Miller for five runs in the opening two innings, and the Gaels were never threatened over the final four frames. It was their sixth consecutive win and they bumped up to the first line of the league standings alongside the Lynx (8-3, 4-1 NCC).

Five-time defending conference champion Humboldt (8-3, 3-1 NCC) sits just a half-game back following its first league loss to Iowa Falls-Alden, 4-1, on Wednesday.

“They came out and won the first two innings and that ultimately won the game for them,” WCHS head coach Jess Howard said of the Gaels, who were 1-3 on June 1. “We just have to do a better job of coming out with intensity and focus.”

Humboldt’s loss to IF-A kept WCHS in an enviable position in the conference, but Howard says it’s just another example that the race for the title is wide open.

“It just shows a lot about what can happen in the conference and how you’ve got to be ready to play every single night,” she said. “When you’re playing, you’ve got to be on all the time.”

A two-RBI single by Lauren Gibb with one out in the first inning gave St. Edmond the upper-hand, and the advantage increased to 5-0 in the second. Ansley Oswald opened the frame with a base hit and scored moments later on a Kalli Henning double. Gracie Harvey then sent a Miller offering out of the park for a two-run home run.

Henning went 3 for 4 at the dish, while Harvey was 2 for 3. Anna Kolacia went 2 for 3 out of the No. 8 spot.

Miller surrendered six hits and three walks before turning the ball over to Delainey Bargfrede in the third. The freshman reliever limited the Gaels to three hits over the final 32⁄3 innings.

“Delainey came in and pitched well,” Howard said. “Defensively we were able to make plays too.”

WCHS sliced its deficit to three runs in the third courtesy of a two-RBI base knock off the bat of Kelly Stoakes.

Stoakes went 2 for 3 at the top of the Lynx lineup off St. Edmond hurler Ella Vratny. Alayna Finucan and Leah Kasch added one single each.

But Vratny controlled the middle and lower parts of the WCHS order. The Nos. 4 through 9 hitters were a combined 0 for 14 with six strikeouts. Vratny finished with eight strikeouts and only one of the Lynx runs was earned.

WCHS will face a tall task this evening when it entertains fourth-ranked (4A) Carlisle at 7 p.m. The Lynx will then host an invite on Saturday and will face 10th-ranked (1A) Martensdale St. Mary’s at 11 a.m. and West Marshall at 3 p.m. Carlisle and IF-A will also be in the field.

St. Edmond 5, WCHS 2

Wednesday at Fort Dodge

WCHS 002 000 0 — 2 4 1

St. Ed 230 000 x — 5 9 2

Jenna Miller, Delainey Bargfrede (3) and Kelly Stoakes. Ella Vratny and Kacey Kruthoff. W — Vratny. L — Miller. Multiple hits — WC: Stoakes; SE: Kalli Henning (3), Gracie Harvey, Anna Kolacia. 2B — SE: Henning. HR — SE: Harvey. RBI — WC: Stoakes (2); SE: Harvey (2), Lauren Gibb (2), Henning.

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