LYNX, THIS HAS BEEN A SUMMER THAT I WON’T EVER FORGET
2 conference championships by large margins made my job really easy
It wasn’t my idea, that credit goes to Meredith Bargfrede when she sent me a text about an hour after the Webster City softball team wrapped up its first North Central Conference championship since 2013 on the last night of June.
Wouldn’t it be great to get both teams together for a group photo to celebrate the school’s conference dominance? That was the gist of Meredith’s text, although at that time the baseball team still had work to do to wrap up its three-peat and fourth league crown in five years.
Yeah, that was more of a formality than anything else at that point. There was no chance in you know where that the Lynx baseball team was going to squander its large lead atop the standings, but why tempt fate?
My response to Meredith: Absolutely, that sounds great. But let’s keep that between us until it’s official.
Well, it became official five days later when the WCHS baseball team took care of Humboldt and briefly celebrated in right field.
Which brought us to that very next afternoon. As the sun baked the grass, 30 WCHS athletes — 15 softball players and 15 baseball players — threw on their uniforms and humored me as they posed for the group photo. It’s the first time that WCHS has swept the summer conference crowns since 1996, a fact that was hard for me to believe when I started to dig into it, and so it felt like an important moment to capture.
The only glitch was that the baseball boys wanted to hold up three fingers, signifying their three straight championships, rather than the No. 1, and so we shot both. It turned out great, if I do say so myself.
And as I walked away, one thought hit me: Someday, these kids will understand what an important photo that was to take. In the moment, they just wanted to get on with their afternoons, but someday — believe me, it will happen — they will look at it and smile at the memories they created for themselves, for their coaches, for their parents and for the fans that ventured out to the ballpark to cheer them on each night.
I know it will make me smile years from now.
The truth is, this trophy sweep didn’t come out of left field (pun intended). The Lynx baseball team was a bigger favorite than Tiger Woods in the 2000 U.S. Open to win the NCC, and the softball team was expected to be in a dog fight with Humboldt, which opened the campaign with five straight league titles under its belt.
When I wrote the baseball preview from underneath Drake Stadium at the state track meet in May — yep, that actually happened — I remember thinking that I was doing nothing but setting WCHS up to fail. As it turns out, head coach Adison Kehoe and his boys weren’t just up to the challenge, they were ready to exceed any and all expectations. The Lynx enter tonight’s Class 3A substate quarterfinal ranked No. 6 in the state with a 24-1 record, the greatest season I’ve ever seen from a Lynx baseball team.
A shoulder injury to Humboldt’s starting pitcher no doubt made the WCHS softball team’s journey easier than originally expected, but head coach Jess Howard’s crew left no doubt by season’s end that it was the best of the bunch.
Combined, the WCHS teams went 27-1 inside the conference — 14-0 on the baseball diamond and 13-1 on the softball diamond. They outscored their league opponents by a ridiculous 219 runs (yes, you read that right), and both held a four-game lead in the final standings.
Postseason honors, those are still partly unknown, but it’s not a stretch to say WCHS will dominate those too. The softball team earned a league-best eight honors, including five spots on the first team for seniors Jenna Miller and Leah Kasch, juniors Kelly Stoakes and Alayna Finucan, and freshman Bonnie Nohrenberg. The baseball all-NCC teams won’t be released for at least another week, but it would be laughable if the Lynx didn’t have at least eight players honored as well. I’m betting the list reaches 10, and you can go ahead and pencil about half of that list onto the first team.
All of this is to say that it has been one heck of a summer. I’ve always felt lucky to be the guy that gets to cover these programs and that’s whether they’re winning or losing. But years like this make it just a little more special, and this one will certainly be remembered for a long, long time.
The Webster City baseball and softball teams swept the North Central Conference titles for the first time since 1996. Here’s how they did it.
•22-8 record, 13-1 in NCC.
•Won the league by 4 games over St. Edmond and Hampton-Dumont/CAL.
•Outscored its conference foes by 103 runs (145-42).
•24-1 record at end of regular season, 14-0 in NCC.
•Won the league by 4 games over Humboldt.
•Outscored its conference foes by 116 runs (140-24).