YARD WORK: Lynx crank two more HRs, stay perfect in NCC
WEBSTER CITY – Kaitlyn Biere and Kaylee Schnathorst certainly dig the long ball.
In a sport known for small ball – infield singles, sacrifice bunts and stolen bases all in the hopes of scratching out a single run – the two sluggers have taken the Webster City softball team on a trip to power alley so far this season.
And the trend continued yesterday.
Biere, a senior, and Schnathorst, a junior, both bashed solo home runs to the same part of the field in left-center to propel WCHS to a 3-1 North Central Conference victory over Hampton-Dumont at Lynx Field.
Suspended last Tuesday because of rain, the contest picked up tied at 1 in the top of the third inning.
Schnathorst’s blast with one out in the third gave the Lynx a 2-1 lead. It was her third of the season.
Biere took the first pitch from Taryn Kline in the sixth out of the park. It was her seventh dinger – already a single-season school record – in 15 games and an absolute no-doubter; it was still climbing as it traveled over the fence.
WCHS (11-4, 7-0 NCC) has now crushed 12 home runs on the season, which puts it tied for eighth on the state’s leaderboard. Mikaleh McCoy and Maddie Anderson both have one.
Erin Anderson missed No. 13 by inches later in the sixth. The lefty turned on a pitch and sent it sky bound down the right field line; the ball landed one step to the right of the foul pole. Two pitches later she sent another shot over the fence, but foul again.
“We have 12 home runs? Jeez, that’s a lot of home runs,” Schnathorst said. “We’ll take it however we can get it.”
Biere, who shares the state lead in homers with three others, doesn’t understand how she’s doing it. She just wants the fun to continue.
“I didn’t expect this. I’ve hit more this season than I did in the rest (of the years) combined,” Biere said. “We spent a lot of time hitting in the offseason and the weight room work we did helps, too.”
WCHS finished with seven hits. Biere was 2-for-3; Maddie Anderson, McCoy, Hannah Myers and Abbey Fuhs all singled. Erin Anderson drove in the team’s first run last week on a sacrifice.
Head coach Jess Howard says a lot of factors contribute to the team’s power surge.
“I think the (girls) that are hitting home runs have increased their strength quite a bit,” she said. “Some of it comes to perfecting form too … a lot has changed since the 80s and even since I played. The bats have changed, the balls have changed and all of that put together, especially with our strength training, is really what has been the difference for us.
“It’s not something we want to rely on though. I’d much rather have 12 base hits in a row instead of having three home runs, but if we can score runs that way we’ll take it.”
Biere tossed a three-hitter to collect the 84th victory of her career. Hampton-Dumont (3-5, 1-5 NCC) notched all of its hits before the game was suspended last week. The Lynx right-hander fanned five.
The last remaining unbeaten in NCC play, WCHS has outscored its foes 59-2. Still, the Lynx know they haven’t really accomplished anything yet. The teams they’ve beaten have a combined conference record of 11-26, and they’ve yet to face one-loss teams Algona Bishop Garrigan, sixth-ranked (Class 2A) Fort Dodge St. Edmond and eighth-ranked (3A) Iowa Falls-Alden.
“Our big week is coming up and we know that,” Schnathorst said, alluding to next week’s slate that features clashes with all three one-loss squads, as well as a return date with Humboldt. “We’re ready.”
Howard continued to toe the company line with the notion that every game is important.
“We’ve got to go with the mentality that every game is a new game,” she said. “You look at it as a must-win and that’s the way it’s got to be if you want to win the conference.”