Photo by Jeff Yoder
Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – Carey Koenig has horrible memories of sitting in the City High dugout as a sixth and seventh grader and watching rival West High pound the overmatched Little Hawks on a routine basis in softball.
Her father was in the early stages of trying to rebuild the City High program, but it took some time, and some lumps from West High, before a breakthrough would occur.
The 10th-ranked Little Hawks are now getting sweet revenge as they swept West High in a doubleheader on Tuesday at West High by a combined score of 30-4.
City High won the first game 16-0 in six innings behind a potent offense and behind the pitching of freshman Ayana Lindsey, who scattered four hits and had eight strikeouts.
The Little Hawks then cruised to a 14-4 victory in the second game, which was stopped after five innings because of the mercy rule.
“It feels good becaue I remember when my dad was the coach a while ago and I would sit on the bench because I wasn’t able to play and West High would just kill City High,” said Carey Koenig, who is now a freshman and a key player for the Little Hawks. “To kind of get that payback, it feels good.”
City High improved to 11-2 overall and 9-1 in the Mississippi Valley Conference under fourth-year head coach Jeff Koenig, who is Carey's father. West High fell to 3-11 and 0-10 in conference play and has now lost four games in a row to the Little Hawks.
“This program is finally on its upswing now,” Jeff Koenig said. “I think the girls are believing and we’re squaring more balls up. We just talked a weeks ago when we hit a couple home runs against Linn-Mar and I just said, hey, I feel like we’re squaring more balls up.
“And then tonight, the triples, doubles and the home runs crushed, those are things that show our hitters are starting to feel comfortable at plate.”
Sophomore second baseman Keli Potter might be the most comfortable of all the Little Hawk hitters at this point.
She belted a two-run home run and a double in the first game while also scoring two runs. She then went 3-for-3 in the second game and smacked another 2-run homer while scoring three runs.
“It makes you feel really good because we can only grow,” Potter said. “If we can get to state this year, we can even improve more.”
City High is playing at an extremely high level despite not having any seniors on the current roster.
Centerfielder Brianna Bentler is one of the veterans on the team as a junior. She has played on the varsity team since the eighth grade, so Bentler knows how it feels to get crushed by West High.
“It’s pretty amazing,” Bentler said. “A couple years ago we saw them slamming us. And now we just play hard and I’m really proud of the way we have come together as a team.”
The Little Hawks started quickly in both games, scoring three runs in the first inning of game one and six runs in the first inning of the second game.
They also finished strong by scoring seven runs in the sixth inning of the first game and six runs in the fifth inning of the second game.
Carey Koenig smacked a three-run home run in the fifth inning of the second game. She also had hit the ball hard on her previous plate appearance when she lined out to right field.
“I just had to be patient and be ready for the outside ball because that’s what she consistently was throwing, and her change-up, too,” Carey Koenig said of West High pitcher Eva Burbidge.
Carey Koenig is proof that size isn’t necessary to hit for power. She is one of the smallest players on her team, but also one of is best power hitters.
She attributes her power to a lot of hard work in the offseason.
“Basically, just the weight room,” Carey Koenig said when asked what has led to her power surge.
In addition to pitching a shutout in the first game, Lindsey also had two hits in both games, combined to score five runs in the two games and made several spectacular plays at shortstop in the second game, including a diving catch on a hard line drive hit by West High shortstop Brooke Goodman.
“The kid is phenomenal,” Jeff Koenig said of Lindsey.
The fact that City High won both games by the mercy rule was good from a pride standpoint, but also from a pitching standpoint with a busy schedule still left to be played this week.
“You know what, four years ago they did a twenty-to-nothing on us,” Jeff Koenig said of West High. “But it was important, too, tonight because we turn around tomorrow and go to Davenport North and then we get Xavier at home on Thursday. And Xavier is a solid team in our conference. So we don’t have an easy game.”
West High is in a rebuilding stage after being one of the top programs in the state for over a decade. The combination of losing some key players to graduation and some others with the opening of Liberty High School last fall has made the Women of Troy vulnerable this season.
City High 305 017 – 16 16 0
West High 000 000 – 0 4 3
Ayana Lindsey and Carey Koenig; Kylie Heisdorffer, Madeline Thompson (3) and Jaclyn Bakken.
W – Lindsey L – Heisdorffer
2B – ICH: Keli Potter, Ayana Lindsey; ICW: Cynthia Hull
3B – ICH: Sydney Fellows
HR – ICH: Keli Potter.
City High 602 006 – 14 9 1
West High 100 300 – 4 7 3
Ella Cook and Jayden Young; Eva Burbidge and Rylee Goodfellow.
W – Cook L – Burbidge
2B – ICH: Brianna Bentler, Ayana Lindsey
3B – ICH: Ella Cook
HR – ICH: Keli Potter, Carey Koenig