Photo by Jeff Yoder
Your Prep Sports
With nearly 40 games jammed into the weeks between Memorial Day and the fourth of July the prep softball season goes by in a flash.
After weeks packed with doubleheaders teams get a chance to briefly exhale this week before putting their seasons on the line with the start of postseason play.
The start of the state tournament looms less than two weeks away as every team chases a spot at Rogers Sports Complex in Fort Dodge.
Before the attention turns to regional play here is a look back at the best of the regular season in the Your Prep Sports area.
Best individual pitching performance: Katie Bracken against Durant. Bracken has a career filled with performances that would fit in this category but her one-hit shutout of the 2A second-ranked Wildcats is among her best. The Regina senior fanned nine and walked just one while holding Durant scoreless for just the second time in 33 games this season.
Best individual offensive performance: Skyler Stookey against Benton Community. The Solon slugger started what has been an all-state caliber season by slamming three home runs and driving in five runs in her second game of the season. Stookey went 4-for-5 with a walk and scored three runs in the 23-12 win.
Best game: City High vs. Dubuque Hempstead. Either side of the doubleheader between Mississippi Valley Conference foes and 2018 state qualifiers could fill this category. City High scored in the final inning to earn one-run wins in both games but a 2-1 nine-inning win in the opener gets the nod here. Keli Potter doubled in Carey Koenig for the game-winning run in the ninth and Ayana Lindsey struck out 13 in a four-hitter.
Best comeback: Clear Creek Amana against Vinton-Shellsburg. The Clippers trailed 7-0 in the second inning of the nightcap of a doubleheader against the Vikings before scoring eight unanswered runs in an 8-7, nine-inning win.
Most improved player: West Branch sophomore Bailey Donohoe. The Bears have increased their average runs per game by more than 1.5 this season and the development of Donohoe has been a big part of that improvement. Donohoe went from three hits in 16 at bats as a freshman to hitting .287 hitter with four home runs and 24 RBI as the Bears’ clean up hitter this season.
Breakthrough performer: Clear Creek Amana junior Ainsley Schrock. Already a four-year starter Schrock bounced back from a down year as a sophomore with a strong junior season. Schrock raised her batting average more than 100 points from a year ago, hitting .429 with six home runs and has struck out just four times in 91 at bats.
Coach of the year: City High’s Jeff Koenig. The Little Hawks have improved every season under Koenig and this year was no exception. A state qualifier a year ago, City High went 32-7, set school records for wins in a 40-game season and home runs and won its first MVC title since 1998.
Best timed performance: West High senior Ryleigh Mulcahey against CR Washington. It doesn’t get any better than tossing a perfect game on senior night and that’s exactly what the lone senior on the West High roster did against the Warriors. Mulcahey struck out six of the nine batters she faced in a three-inning perfect game in a 13-0 win.
Most versatile: Regina eight-grader Courtney Kessler wasted little time making herself a valuable asset to the lineup for the defending 2A runner-up. Kessler is hitting .275 in her varsity debut season while making starts in the outfield, at third base and catcher along with designated hitter.
Most consistent: West Branch sophomore Nicki Henson has a hit in 29 of 33 games this season and has scored a run in 24 games this season. Henson opened the season with a 22-game hitting streak owns 20 multi-hit games and has reached base safely in 31 of 33 games.
Rookie of the year: Solon eighth-grader Hilary Wilson. The stats for Wilson stack up against any one regardless of grade. The slick-fielding third baseman has enjoyed a dominant debut season leading the Spartans with a .417 batting average and 18 doubles while adding five home runs, 38 RBI and 41 runs.
Unsung hero: City High junior Sydney Fellows. It is easy to focus on City High standouts Ayana Lindsey and Carey Koenig but Fellows has had a monster season hitting .405 with 22 extra-base hits including four home runs and 34 RBI.
Comeback player of the year: Liberty High sophomore Tiffany Jones missed last season with knee injury but has bounced back big time this summer. Jones is hitting .337, ranks second on the team with 35 hits and has 27 RBI.
Gold glover: City High sophomore Carey Koenig. The offensive numbers stand out (.467 BA, 12 HR, 48 RBI) but Koenig may be even more valuable for what she does behind the plate. Forget about throwing out runners, teams haven’t even attempted to steal on Koenig (just 5 attempts) and she plays an excellent third base for the Little Hawks as well.
Silver slugger: Liberty High junior Brylee Klosterman. Few players have a sweeter swing or better numbers than the Liberty High lefty. The Iowa recruit leads Liberty High with a .488 batting average and has shown some pop with 21 of her 60 hits going for extra bases.
Cy Young: Regina senior Katie Bracken. Over the course of her career Bracken has done her best work in the postseason. In her final season Bracken didn’t wait that long to get rolling. The right-hander is 16-11 with a 1.39 ERA and has struck out 212 in 171 1/3 innings. In 26 starts Bracken has eight shutouts and eight games with double-digit strikeouts.
Most valuable player: City High sophomore Ayana Lindsey. The only player in the state with double digit home runs and more than 20 stolen bases Lindsey has cemented her status as one of the state’s top all-around talents. Lindsey ranks third in the state with 16 home runs, has 30 stolen bases and a team-high .483 average. She is also 17-3 with a .132 ERA in 127 2/3 innings and is a dynamite defensive short stop.
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