By Pat Harty
Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – The City High softball team had just been swept by Davenport North in a doubleheader and outscored 25-2 in the two games when head coach Jeff Koenig huddled with his players in left field.
He reminded his young team, which includes four freshmen and three eighth graders, that there wasn’t time or reason to dwell on Monday’s season-opening losses by scores of 12-0 and 13-2.
The schedule just won’t allow for it with City in the midst of a busy opening week that will resume on Tuesday with a doubleheader at Dubuque Wahlert.
“I said we’ve got eight games this week, we regroup, we go to Wahlert tomorrow night and we’ll see what becomes of that,” Koenig said. “And I just told them, we just got to hit the reset button.
“We learned some things tonight. We left a few pitches where we didn’t want to, and tomorrow night we don’t leave those same pitches and I think we have a different outcome.”
City started two eighth graders on the mound, and both Ayana Lindsey and Ella Cook struggled to contain the Davenport North hitters.
The Wildcats combined for 26 hits in the two games and pounded four home runs in the first game.
Lindsey left a few pitches out of the zone in the first game and paid for it by surrendering the four home runs, including two to Molly Freeman and a three-run blast by Avery Brooks in the fourth inning.
The first game was stopped after four innings because of the mercy rule with Davenport North leading 12-0.
The second game only lasted five innings also because of the mercy rule as North scored three runs in the top of the fifth and then held City scoreless in the bottom of the inning to secure a 13-2 victory.
Cook started on the mound for City in the second game and allowed 10 hits and 10 earned runs.
“We had two eighth graders that started both games and we’ve got an eighth grader behind the plate,” Koenig said. “We’re young. And they’ll grow, and I truly believe if you look at this team two weeks from now, three weeks from now, it’s a different look.”
Davenport North hardly resembled the team that finished 11-25 last season, especially on offense where it constantly was on the attack. City split a doubleheader with the Wildcats last season.
“That’s a good hitting team,” Koenig said of the Wildcats, who also are young with 10 eighth graders on the varsity roster. “That’ll be a tough team to beat because they can do a lot of damage if you leave a ball where you don’t want to. And that’s what I told our pitchers. We were trying to stay down, and the balls we left up they hurt us.”
Davenport North coach Turner Estes expected his team to be improved on offense this season, but maybe not this soon.
The Wildcats led 8-0 after just three innings in the first game and were in control the rest of the way.
“I hate to say it, but we did kind of expect something like, hopefully, but not this soon,” Estes said. “So yes, they hit the ball really well, a little better than we thought for the first games of the year.”
City scored its two runs for the night in the bottom of the second inning in game two.
Senior Ellie Grace Dixon led off the inning with a double and then scored on a double by freshman Brooke Bormann. Back-to-back walks to Brianna Bentler and Alexa Fredericks followed by an error by the Davenport North shortstop allowed Bormann to score the second run.
But that was all the Little Hawk offense could produce on a rough opening night.
“As young as we are, they’ve got to understand what this high school ball is like,” Koenig said. “It’s a little bit faster. You’ve got to be a little more ready. I thought we played pretty well in the field. When we had balls hit to us we made plays. I didn’t think we left a lot of stuff on the table there.”
Davenport North 305 4 – 12 12 1
City High 000 0 – 0 3 0
Emily Baezinger and Lauren Proehl; Ayana Lindset, Gabrielle Hiatt (4) and Carey Koenig.
W – Emily Baezinger. L – Ayana Lindset
HR – DN: Emily Baezinger, Molly Freeman 2, Avery Brooks.
Davenport North 055 03 – 13 14 3
City High 020 00 – 2 5 0
Lilly Dierkes, Morgan Newmeyer (3), Cristal Baker (5) and McKenna Rebarcak.
HR – DN: Lauren Proehl.