Photo by Jeff Yoder
Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – There is no official title to describe what the City High softball team is doing this season, but Operation Payback would suffice.
The Little Hawks ended an eight-game losing streak against Linn-Mar by defeating the Lions 7-3 in the first game of a doubleheader on Thursday at City High.
Linn-Mar hung on to win the second game 5-4, but it took a nifty defensive play by second baseman Ally Johnson to secure the victory. She dove to her left and stopped a hard ground ball hit by Sydney Fellows that likely would’ve tied the score with a runner on second base if it had gotten past Johnson.
But Johnson flicked the ball over to first base while lying on the ground and her throw barely beat Fellows to the bag for the final out.
City High coach Jeff Koenig was frustrated after seeing his team’s rally fall short in the second game, but he also appreciates what his team accomplished in the opener against an opponent that had dominated the Little Hawks for an extended period.
“That’s a team that for the last three years has ten-runned us every single game and beat us around the field,” Koenig said. “And we came out in the first game and squared up some balls. I mean we hit a couple pretty good bombs in the first game and I like to see that. We’re hitting better.
“And then in the second game, to get down five-nothing, we didn’t quit. And that’s something that a year ago, two years ago, we might have folded our tent a little bit and just didn’t believe in ourselves. These guys believe now. They believe that they can beat anybody anywhere.”
The power surge to which Koenig referred was supplied by freshmen Ella Cook and Carey Koenig, both of whom belted two-run home runs in the first game.
The Little Hawks also scored two unearned runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to provide some cushion in the first game.
Freshman Ayana Lindsey went the distance on the mound in the first game and scattered eight hits. She also helped her cause at the plate by smacking a single and a double and by scoring two runs.
“We’re trying to prove a point and just show teams that we aren’t here just to goof around,” said Lindsey, who wears jersey No. 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson. “We’re here to win games and show what we can do.”
And though only a freshman, Lindsey is a veteran at the varsity level after playing a key role for City High last season as an eighth-grader. Cook and Carey Koenig, who is Jeff Koenig’s daughter, also played significant roles last season as eighth-graders.
“We feel like veterans,” Lindsey said. “We’re like leaders of the team, so we all have to step up and show the team what we can do. And we know we can push through anything if we just stick together as a team.”
City High pushed its record to 8-2 with the doubleheader split, while Linn-Mar is 5-3 on the season.
The fact that Ella Cook went the distance on the mound in the second game says a lot about her resiliency. She allowed two runs in the second inning and three in the third while surrendering a combined seven hits in the two innings.
But Cook withstood the early onslaught and held the Lions scoreless over the final five innings.
“We’re seeing growth from her,” Jeff Koenig said. “We had something similar against Pleasant Valley, we were up five-nothing and had kind of bad inning. We gave up five unearned runs and she kind of started to check out, and I said, `come on kid, I gotta have you. And I said the same thing tonight; if you stay with me I’ll get you some runs.”
Jeff Koenig has what he calls a to-do list that includes all the goals for his team. Ending the losing steak against Linn-Mar was high on the list.
“We’ve got more to do,” he said. “These guys have a to-do list that they work off and that’s all they talk about. We don’t talk about a lot of other stuff. We just go down out to-do list thing and we just take care of business.”
Linn-Mar 000 010 2 – 3 8 2
City High 002 032 x – 7 7 2
Katie Smith, Madison Beard (6) and Charli Patten; Ayana Lindsey and Carey Koenigh. 2B – Elly Schuemann (LM), Ciera Hansen (LM); Ayana Lindsey (C), Ella Cook (C). HR – Ella Cook, Carey Koenig (C).
Linn-Mar 230 000 0 – 5 10 3
City High 000 040 0 – 4 8 2
Madison Beard, Katie Smith (5) and Charli Patten; Ella Cook and Jayden Young. 2B – Kennedy Rentschler (LM), Mariam Berry (LM), Ciera Hansen (LM); Carey Koenig, Brianna Bentler (C), Alexa Fredericks (C).