Photo by Jeff Yoder
Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – It took a little extra time for City High freshman Carey Koenig to hit mid-season form.
Considering where Koenig was at just six short months ago the wait was well worth it.
Just seven months removed from offseason elbow surgery Koenig is in the midst of her best prep season yet and has become a force in the middle of the City High lineup.
“Hitting at first was a little bit difficult after the surgery but I found myself through it,” Koenig said. “I’m starting to get back on track again.”
Koenig spent most of her offseason rehabbing from October surgery to repair ligaments in the elbow on her throwing arm.
The freshman catcher then spent the first few weeks of the season trying to get back to level she was at last season when she earned second team all-division honors from the Mississippi Valley Conference.
Koenig has spent the past few weeks hitting the ball harder than she did before the injury.
In five games last week Koenig hit .357 with two home runs and eight RBI and has already surpassed her season totals from a year ago in runs, home runs and RBI just 30 games into the season.
“I think it’s taken her some of the season to realize that every single at bat she is going to swing the bat hard,” City High coach and Carey’s father Jeff Koenig said. “She isn’t just trying to go find something and put the ball in play she is hitting the ball hard.”
Koenig hit the ball hard a lot last season as an eighth-grader finishing with a .345 batting average and 26 RBI in her first season of varsity action.
Even after swapping trips to the weight room for physical therapy sessions this offseason Koenig is blowing those numbers away.
Koenig entered play this week hitting .344 and with team highs in home runs, RBI (36) and slugging percentage (.622).
Her 10 doubles are tied with teammate Briana Bentler for the most on the team.
With home runs on back-to-back nights this week against Waterloo East and 5A No. 5 Cedar Rapids Jefferson Koenig has seven homers on the season and four in her last seven games.
“She has made the kind of strides we hoped she would,” Jeff Koenig said. “She was a weight room fanatic and she lost four months in the weight room which cost her some strength but she worked hard and she is elevating the ball more. She is doing some things that she didn’t do a year ago so that tells me that her game is going in the right direction.”
The hardest hurdle for Koenig was the mental one she faced in her rehabilitation.
Once she began to trust her repaired arm the results started to show up quickly.
Koenig shows no signs of slowing down behind the plate where she is regarded as one of the top defensive catchers in Class 5A after throwing out eight of 13 base stealers a year ago.
This season Koenig feels her arm is even stronger following the surgery.
“I feel like my throwing is probably stronger than it has been and the hitting is starting to get better,” Koenig said. “I didn’t have a home run last year and I have seven now so I’m starting to feel better.”
The increased power for Koenig has bolstered a potent City High lineup.
City High (19-15) ranks in the top five in Class 5A in runs, extra-base hits and home runs entering the final two weeks of the regular season.
“I think we are in a good spot, we are hitting really well and I think we are continuing to get better,” Koenig said. “We are a lot better than we were last year and I’m excited to see what we can do.”