THE WILD BUNCH: Staying loose the key for WCHS in tonight’s showdown with W-SR
WEBSTER CITY — When it’s at its best, the Webster City baseball team is loud and brash. The players rib one another and head coach Adison Kehoe, and they never — ever — shut up in the dugout.
That team was absent when the Lynx handled Eagle Grove in a 10-0, six-inning rout in a Class 3A Substate 2 quarterfinal last Friday and less than 24 hours later Kehoe was digging to try to find it again.
“When we had practice Saturday morning and Sunday, we were over the top in being loose and obnoxious,” Kehoe said. “It would have been fun to record all of the trash talk because we realized after the game on Friday that we’re not a team that can play tight. When they’re free-spirited, they’re pretty fun to watch.”
Kehoe found his team in time for its 4-0 substate semifinal win over Clear Lake on Monday and, afterward, he again preached that philosophy as it gears up for tonight’s substate final.
No. 6-ranked WCHS (26-1) will host Waverly-Shell Rock (32-7) this evening at 7 p.m. in the Substate 2 final. The winner will advance to next week’s state tournament at Duane Banks Field in Iowa City.
The Lynx are in the substate final round for the first time since 2008, and they’ll be out to capture their first state-tournament berth since 2007.
Confidence shouldn’t be a problem. WCHS enters the contest riding a 21-game winning streak — its only loss came against Ames, 4-3, on June 3 — and it has its ace pitcher rested and ready to work against the Go-Hawks.
Two-time all-state right-hander Tyler Olson will take an 8-0 record and 0.37 ERA to the bump this evening. He owns a 27-1 record and 0.61 ERA over his career, his lone setback coming more than two years ago.
Olson wasn’t in a celebratory mood after Monday’s win over Clear Lake. He was already looking ahead and feels like his team is ready to take that next step.
“It’s definitely not done yet,” he said. “We’re a Top 10 team for a reason and we think we’re better than any team we go up against. It’s a mindset … we’re thinking we’re going to win and advance.”
Olson will face a dangerous W-SR lineup that boasts a .310 batting average and the Go-Hawks lead the class in stolen bases with 183. WCHS ranks No. 3 in 3A at the plate with a .349 batting average.
Chance Key is the table setter for the Go-Hawks with a .413 average, six home runs and 51 RBIs. Andy Roose (.380 average, 28 stolen bases) and Korbyn Dewey (.352 average, four home runs and 32 RBIs) are also weapons.
W-SR got by Humboldt in the substate semifinal round, 4-1. The Go-Hawks will likely put their ace on the mound as well; Will Soesbe is 7-0 on the season with a 2.04 ERA.
Sophomore lead-off hitter Ty McKinney has been the Lynx spark plug all season, a trend he’ll look to continue this evening. He’s hitting .418 with 45 runs scored. Classmate CJ Hisler, who hits in the No. 5 slot, leads the team with a .462 average, and Olson checks in at .410 with 22 RBIs. Eight of the nine batters in the Lynx lineup hit at a .321 clip or better.
Kehoe, in his fifth season at the helm, was the starting catcher on the last WCHS team to reach state in 2007. And now he’ll try to venture on to the state stage in a different role.
“You always put the boys and the school first, but individually you think about things like that,” he said. “I’ll probably tell them some of my war stories.
“They have to remember this is why you play the game. They’re young men, they’re not idiots and they known the stakes. They obviously want to win every game and they’ll be ready to go.”
AT A GLANCE
Who: Waverly-Shell Rock (32-7) at No. 6 Webster City (26-1).
What: Class 3A Substate 2 final.
When: Tonight, 7 p.m.
Where: Lynx Field, Webster City.
At Stake: A spot in next week’s Class 3A state tournament at Duane Banks Field in Iowa City.
Notes: This is Webster City’s first substate final appearance since 2008 … The Lynx last state tournament appearance was in 2007.