Driver’s Seat: Lynx blank Gaels, all alone at top of NCC

WEBSTER CITY – Kaitlyn Biere said her change-up was “a little off” last night inside the lines at Lynx Field.

Off? Off?

She could have fooled everyone watching. She did fool everyone that stepped into the batter’s box.

If that was off, then no opponent wants to see her when it’s on.

Biere had fourth-ranked (Class 2A) Fort Dodge St. Edmond uneasy with every pitch she threw, as the Gaels found the change-up irresistible for seven innings in the showdown between North Central Conference co-leaders.

With Biere at the top of her game and a monstrous fifth inning, No. 15 (4A) Webster City (19-6, 13-1 NCC) avenged its only league loss, 5-0, and took over sole possession of the lead with only four games remaining on the docket.

“This was huge. A huge, huge game,” Biere said after twirling a one-hitter for her 11th shutout of the season. “We played for each other (last night) and really came together as a team.”

Hey, Kaitlyn, are you sure the change-up wasn’t working?

“In the beginning of the game it was on and then I kind of lost it because I was trying too hard,” she said. “But then I just went to my other pitches.”

Biere, who now owns 92 career victories and a scoreless innings streak that has reached 24, struck out eight Gaels – half of them on the change-up. She took a no-hitter into the seventh inning, but Allie Oberg broke it up with a one-out single to center field.

But the four-time all-state hurler couldn’t have cared less.

“I didn’t care about (the no-hitter),” she said. “I’m not worried about my stats. I’m worried about getting the win.”

Mikaleh McCoy’s two-run home run down the left-field line in the bottom of the fifth capped a four-run frame and put the Lynx on easy street the rest of the way. She golfed a Katie Donnelly offering high into the night sky; it cleared the fence easily.

“It was much easier going into the next inning (after the home run),” WCHS head coach Jess Howard said with a grin on her face.

No. 9 hitter Allie Flaws ignited the flurry with a one-out double into the gap in right-center and she eventually slid across the dish to give the Lynx a 2-0 lead on an RBI ground ball off the bat of Tiffany Constable.

Flaws – not your typical bottom-of-the-order hitter – finished 2-for-3, part of the Lynx eight-hit night.

“She’s there for a reason with the hopes that she gets it started with her speed,” Howard said of Flaws. “She did a great job of getting on base for us.”

Biere drove in her second run of the night on a sacrifice fly into shallow right field and that set the stage for McCoy, who belted her second dinger in as many nights and her fifth of the season. It was the Lynx 22nd on the campaign.

McCoy also finished 2-for-3.

Constable scored the game’s first run in the third inning. She reached on a two-out error and Biere made the Gaels pay with a hard shot into right for an RBI single.

And then Biere did the rest.

She sat down 15 consecutive batters during one stretch from the first through the sixth innings. St. Edmond (18-5, 11-2 NCC) had just three girls reach scoring position.

“That was the kind of performance we needed out of Kaitlyn to give us that defensive edge on St. Ed’s because they’re a really good hitting team,” Howard said. “But she did a good job of keeping them on their toes and off balance.”

Maddie Anderson also lashed a double for the Lynx. Kaylee Schnathorst added a bunt single; Erin Anderson recorded a base knock as well.

WCHS will now prepare for yet another crucial conference game, as ninth-ranked (3A) Iowa Falls-Alden (20-6, 10-3 NCC) comes to town on Friday. The Lynx beat the Cadets, 8-4, earlier this month, but Howard expects a battle.

“They’ll come after us,” she said. “We’ve got to go at them hard and control it defensively.”