Split ’em up: Lynx break even at tourney, hit 3 more HRs

FORT DODGE – Hitting the softball hard and far wasn’t an issue for the No. 14-ranked (Class 4A) Webster City softball team Friday morning at the Rogers Sports Complex.

The Lynx just couldn’t stop No. 2-ranked (2A) North Union from doing the same and more of it.

The two teams combined to blast seven home runs in a wild 9-5 North Union victory that ended after six innings because of the established time limit during the first round at the Fort Dodge Invite.

WCHS (14-5) – which moved into the 4A rankings for the first time this season late last week – rebounded to blank Atlantic, 2-0, on the back side of the bracket later on Friday.

The Lynx were back on the field Saturday morning and were tied with Sioux City Heelan, 3-3 in the third inning, when the game and the rest of the tournament was washed out by the rain.

Senior Kaitlyn Biere hit two more dingers – both solo shots – against North Union, upping her already single-season record total to nine. She leads 4A in long balls and sits second in the state behind her club softball teammate Kendyl Lindaman of Ankeny, who has 11.

Maddie Anderson also drove the ball out of the park for her second home run of the season. She drove in three runs in the loss.

“We did a good job of making contact with the ball (against North Union),” WCHS head coach Jess Howard said after her team clubbed eight hits. “Once we figured out (pitcher Allie Ingalls’) routine we were able to put the ball in play quite a bit. That’s a game that we needed to go the full seven innings because we were hitting it hard.”

Biere went 3-for-3; Erin Anderson roped two singles, Mikaleh McCoy and Molly Gilbert both had one.

North Union (15-1) cranked four home runs off McCoy, a sophomore who allowed 13 hits in the loss. Dena Looft left the yard twice; Ingalls and Sarah Rolling once each.

Howard kept Biere, a four-time all-state hurler, out of the circle in anticipation of a potential battle with No. 6 (5A) Ankeny in the second round.

“If we win (against North Union) we’d be up against Ankeny and we wanted Biere pitching that game,” she said. “We thought we had a better chance going that way with the pitching.”

Biere took the ball and dominated Atlantic (11-10). She surrendered just three hits and struck out eight.

WCHS scored single runs in the first and sixth innings to collect the win.

“We had runners on, but once we got them in scoring position we weren’t able to execute as well,” Howard said. “We had a lot of balls that were hit hard to the outfield.”

Kaylee Schnathorst laced a triple and McCoy doubled in the contest. Biere, Gilbert, Allie Flaws, Abbey Fuhs and Tiffany Constable all added singles.

Gilbert drove in one run.

WCHS will now begin preparations for its most important week of the season. The North Central Conference leader will face its four biggest adversaries in a five-day span, starting this evening against fourth-ranked (2A) Fort Dodge St. Edmond back at the Rogers Sports Complex.

The Lynx will be on the road against No. 9 (3A) Iowa Falls-Alden on Tuesday and at home against Humboldt on Wednesday and Algona Bishop Garrigan on Friday.

St. Edmond and Garrigan both sit just one game back in the loss column in the league standings. Iowa Falls-Alden resides in fourth plate, Humboldt in fifth.

“It’s just one game at a time this week,” Howard said. “Every game in the conference is a must win if you want to win a conference title, so we’ll just start with (tonight).”