NO. 5 BOONE SPOILS LYNX POSTSEASON, ENDS CAREERS OF 2 SENIORS
WCHS touches Dighton for only 2 hits, makes 4 errors in season finale
BOONE — The tears that escaped down the cheeks of Leah Kasch were noticeable, but that would have been the case whenever it ended.
That ending just happened to come on a gray-skied afternoon at Gary Creasman Field on Saturday.
Kasch, one of only two seniors on the Webster City softball team, knew that even a perfect performance might not have been enough against fifth-ranked Boone in a Class 4A Region 1 semifinal. The Lynx were far from perfect, but they fought to the final out in a 6-0 loss to the Toreadors.
“It sucks, but I knew (the end) was obviously going to come,” Kasch said with red eyes minutes after the conclusion of the contest. “It was going to be really hard whenever it happened. Not playing competitively anymore is really upsetting and sad.”
WCHS (22-8) put up a better challenge than in an 11-1 loss to the Toreadors (25-8) on June 15, but four defensive errors proved to be too tough a hill to climb. The defensive miscues led to three free runs and allowed Boone to slowly increase its lead throughout the game.
But, honestly, even a clean game defensively wouldn’t have altered the outcome. Flame-throwing senior right-hander Emma Dighton was in the circle for Boone and WCHS simply had no answer with its bats.
Dighton limited the Lynx to two hits — a first-inning liner into right-center by Kasch for a single, and a similar shot deeper into the gap by Kelly Stoakes for a sixth-inning double. WCHS had just three base runners, none of which moved further than second base.
Dighton retired eight straight in the early innings and seven in a row during a span that stretched the fourth, fifth and sixth innings. Following Stoakes’ double, Dighton got the final four outs in succession. She finished with eight strikeouts and got plenty of help from second baseman Erin Ades, who was a perfect 8 for 8 on ground balls hit her way.
Boone left fielder Victoria Lewis wasn’t bad either. Playing just a few steps off the dirt against left-handed slapper Alayna Finucan in the fifth, she laid out for a diving catch on a tailing liner that would have dribbled all the way to the fence had she not made the catch.
“Their pitching got ahead of us a little bit,” WCHS head coach Jess Howard said. “We sped up the pitching machine to get ready for it, but it’s hard to simulate a pitcher that has a rise, a good change-up and a fastball that’s hard to hit. She did a good job of keeping us at bay.”
Boone sprayed eight hits to all parts of the field off WCHS pitchers Delainey Bargfrede and Jenna Miller, the team’s only other senior. Bargfrede took the loss, as she went 41⁄3 innings before handing the ball over to Miller. Bargfrede was responsible for six hits and five runs, only two of which were earned. She struck out two.
WCHS put an emphasis on containing Emily Ades, Zoey Hightshoe and Dighton at the top of the Toreadors’ order. They were a combined 0 for 7 through four-plus innings, but Dighton broke the spell with a line-drive double off the fence in left field in the fifth. Laena Solverson followed with an RBI double to nearly the same spot, and an inning later Hightshoe rattled the fence in left with an RBI double.
The lower half of the Toreadors’ order put the game in their control in the second inning. A two-out infield single by Kennedy Lewis allowed Alex McDonough a shot at the plate and she delivered an RBI single into right-center. Lewis also singled in the fourth and scored on a double to left-center by No. 9 stick Natalee Danner to make it 3-0 in Boone’s favor.
Danner also singled in the sixth and trucked home on Hightshoe’s laser.
Boone advanced to Tuesday’s regional final. It will host Sergeant Bluff-Luton (29-11) — a 4-3 winner over LeMars in the other regional semifinal — for the right to advance to the state tournament.
WCHS, meanwhile, was left to wax nostalgically about a season that included the program’s first North Central Conference championship since 2013.
“It’s been awesome,” Kasch said. “Being conference champs was our big goal and completing that was amazing. And I’ve loved playing for Jess.”
Howard held it together well afterward until she had to speak about her two seniors, both five-year varsity contributors.
“They’ve set the tone for leadership, not just this year but in years past too, so it’s hard to lose them,” Howard said as her voice quivered. “The maturity that both of them have shown this year has been huge.”
Class 4A Region 1 Semifinal
Boone 6, WCHS 0
Saturday at Boone
WCHS 000 000 0 — 0 2 4
Boone 020 121 x — 6 8 1
Delainey Bargfrede, Jenna Miller (5) and Kelly Stoakes. Emma Dighton and Zoey Hightshoe. W — Dighton. L — Bargfrede. Multiple hits — BO: Kennedy Lewis, Natalee Danner. 2B — WC: Stoakes; BO: Hightshoe, Dighton, Danner, Laena Solverson. RBI — BO: Hightshoe, Solverson, Danner, Alex McDonough.