2020 Your Prep Sports Softball Players of the Year: Juniors Lindsey and Koenig Give City High Potent 1-2 Punch
Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – It wasn’t long into their days as youth league teammates that Ayana Lindsey and Carey Koenig realized they shared the same passion for softball.
The longer Koenig and Lindsey shared a diamond the clearer it became that a love for the game wasn’t the only similarity that brought the two together.
“I definitely think we share some of the same characteristics, even off of the field,” Lindsey said. “I think we really get each other. We’ve been a pair for quite a while.”
It is many of those same shared qualities that showed up as 10 year olds, the focus, the dedication, the attitude, energy and attention to detail, that have turned Koenig and Lindsey into two of the best players in the state.
The duo has emerged as the most dynamic and dangerous run-producing tandem in the state while leading a softball resurgence at City High over the past two seasons.
After posting stellar junior seasons in which they tied for the state lead in home runs and combined for 68 RBI Koenig and Lindsey have been named the 2020 Your Prep Sports area softball players of the year.
“I think we share a lot of the same qualities and one of the things that we both have is we try not to sweat the little things but we are focused at the same time,” Koenig said. “We have fun with the game, but we are really focused. We still have a great time playing this game and I think that’s what we have in common.”
Koenig and Lindsey have been linked together since bursting onto the prep scene along with classmate Ella Cook as eighth-graders.
The two have been playing together for a lot longer than that, learning the game together as kids starting at age 10.
“Playing together since we were little kids just starting to play has helped us grow that trust,” Koenig said. “It helps a lot with our pitching, I’ve been catching her my whole life so that makes it super easy. I know how to talk to her, we know how to communicate really well. We have a really great connection and I know that we always will have one.”
In their debut season in 2017 Koenig and Lindsey bolstered a City High squad that nearly doubled its win total from the previous season.
That was only the beginning.
As freshman the duo helped City High reach the state tournament for the first time 2001.
Over the past two seasons they have become Division 1 commits, first-team all-state selections and widely considered two of the best players in the state.
They’ve done all of that together.
“On the field we are always partners, we are always hitting together and I think we share the same mindset and a lot of the same goals,” Lindsey said. “We definitely make each other better.”
Both players agree that same things that make them excel as individuals push the other to improve.
“If I didn’t have Ayana on the team I wouldn’t be the player I am today,” Koenig said. “She motivates me, I’ve seen her and how great she’s been as a player and we are able to work together to help each other. Without her I’m definitely not the same player.”
Koeing and Lindsey each earned first-team all-state honors last season as sophomores.
Despite a pandemic-shortened season this summer both took their games to the next level.
Koenig and Lindsey tied with Anna Wohlers of Davenport Assumption for the state lead in home runs with 12 despite playing in just 23 games.
“We played 23 games and a year ago we played 45 so if you double what they did this year they basically surpassed everything they did a year ago,” City High coach Jeff Koenig said. “They were already playing a really high level a year ago and they just continued to get better.”
A stalwart behind the plate at catcher, Koenig continued to grow her reputation as one of the top power hitters and run producers in the state.
Koenig led City High in RBI for the third consecutive season with 37 and has driven in 170 over the past three years.
After failing to hit a homer as an eighth-grader, Koenig has at least eight home runs each of the past three seasons.
“I was able to get to the field this spring and that definitely helped me that I was able to still work even with the facilities being closed,” Carey Koenig said. “Going into the season I felt good, I didn’t feel any different than I did last year because I knew I put the work in.”
The stats are skewed with fewer games but consider this.
Over her freshman and sophomore seasons Koenig homered once every 12.6 at bats and had an RBI once every 2.5 at bats.
This season she homered every 5.3 trips to the plate and had an RBI every 1.7 at bats.
Lindsey was equally impressive during the shortened season.
She homered once every 7.4 at bats while leading 5A with 18 homers a year ago but hit her 12 home runs in 68 at bats this season. One homer every 5.7 at bats.
“When you start to really extrapolate it out, it’s impressive,” Jeff Koenig said. “If you give our kids another 10 games or even give them a full season they are going to have some lofty numbers that are pretty eye-opening.”
The numbers this season pop regardless of games.
Koenig, who is committed to play at Drake, hit a career-best .484 with 20 extra-base hits and 37 RBI and struck out just five times.
“She does everything well. I look up to her that’s for sure. She is very serious and she knows what she wants to do,” Lindsey said of Koenig. “he is a great hitter and she works her tail off. She’s an amazing player. She definitely puts the work in, she’s always in the weight room and she’s usually the first one there. She is always pushing people to get better and I think that’s the great thing about her.”
Lindsey also had a career-high batting average, hitting an even .500 with 39 runs scored, 31 RBI and 18 stolen bases.
A Northwestern recruit, Lindsey went 8-5 with a 2.25 ERA and 75 strikeouts in 74 2/3 innings in the circle.
“Her pitching is great, her hitting is one of a kind and she is a great leader,” Carey Koenig said of Lindsey. “She knows how to motivate people and pull people together and she has really helped to lead this team.”