Lick your wounds briefly, Lynx, and then celebrate
The senior class isn’t big, but what an impact it had
Chase Rattenborg was out of his uniform and about ready to leave the ballpark Wednesday night, but not before he made one more stop. I watched him as he walked toward Adison Kehoe down the first base line and one thing stood out — the smile on his face.
Rattenborg threw his head coach in a bear hug and elevated him off the ground. He slapped his back twice and held on as Kehoe’s legs remained off the ground.
He didn’t want to let go. To do so would be to say goodbye, to the man and to the season. But, eventually, Rattenborg dropped him and the smile was even wider this time.
And in that moment, I knew that the pain had already begun to subside for the members of the Webster City baseball team, and in its place was going to be long bouts of reflection.
As it should be.
No one wanted to see the season end short of the Class 3A state tournament, and certainly not in a nightmare scenario that was the ninth inning in a 9-3 loss to Waverly-Shell Rock in the substate final. But as I’ve said many times before, sports can be cruel, and come next week only four teams in the state will be able to say they staved off the pain that the Lynx felt following the loss to the Go-Hawks.
Rattenborg and his three senior classmates — Tyler Olson, Trey Lyons and Sean Carver — certainly have nothing to be ashamed of. Quite the opposite actually.
Be dang proud, guys, and don’t ever regret a moment in that uniform. You helped to elevate the WCHS program and, combined, you were the North Star for the greatest Lynx team I’ve ever covered. And, yes, that includes the 2007 team that reached the
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state tournament. No offense to that group, but I’d take this one by a couple runs in a mythical meeting.
“I’d just tell them that I love them and say thank you,” WCHS junior catcher Devon Stoakes said when asked about the team’s seniors.
Rattenborg and Lyons truly were the missing pieces, a fact that wasn’t known until they decided to come out of baseball retirement and join the team as juniors in 2020. Neither had thrown a glove on since the eighth grade, and yet they fit in and thrived immediately.
Rattenborg brought fire and intensity, a good bat and solid glove, and a Robin mentality to Olson’s Batman on the mound. He put together a 10-1 record and 1.99 ERA in two seasons on the bump. Throw in a career .323 batting average and you start to wonder just how good his numbers would have been over a four-year career.
Lyons brought a fantastic glove to second base and stability in the lower part of the order where he hit .312 over two seasons. And, yeah, he could pitch too — a 7-2 record with 50 strikeouts over 452⁄3 innings.
Would WCHS have been good these last two seasons had they opted to stay outside the fence? Sure. But would the Lynx have rolled to back-to-back North Central Conference titles and a 26-2 record in 2021 without them? It’s an easy answer: No.
“They were a crucial part of this,” Stoakes said. “They didn’t need to come back, but they wanted to be a part of the team and we needed them.”
A three-year starter in the outfield, Carver was more than a dependable bat or a solid glove man. Time after time, when WCHS needed a big hit it always seemed like he was willing and able to deliver. How he kept finding his way into the batter’s box in those moments, I’ll never know, but he was the definition of clutch. His career included a .328 batting average and 58 RBIs.
And then there’s Olson, who is the GOAT of WCHS baseball over the past two decades. That’s no disrespect to his own coach, who was pretty good himself, or guys like Alex Davis and Dylan Steen. But when it comes to the guy that could do everything, it’s Olson. End of debate.
The numbers are stupid — a 27-1 record on the mound with a 0.63 ERA and 273 strikeouts against just 35 walks. He averaged 11⁄2 strikeouts per inning and over 181 innings he allowed only 16 — SIXTEEN! — earned runs.
And when he wasn’t pitching, Olson looked like a college player at shortstop, so smooth to the point of looking effortless. Throw in a .394 batting average with 106 career hits, and his resume is as good as I’ve ever covered.
“What’s fun about that kid in particular is that I’m not sure his stats will ever be replicated and he’s just a genuinely nice kid,” Kehoe said. “He’s a great baseball player and an even better kid.”
This was just a fun team, both to be around and watch on the field. It was loud and maybe a little cocky, both of which are just fine because the players worked their behinds off for everything they earned. And this fact was pointed out to me (I can’t take the credit) — of the team’s 15 members, 12 of them are three- and four-sport athletes, and 13 play multiple sports. Nine never take a season off.
That’s commitment. And dedication. And whatever other platitude you want to throw their way.
This team deserves to be celebrated, and it will be a benchmark that future Lynx teams try to reach. Falling one step short of the state tournament won’t change that.