116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
We’ve passed the midpoint of the 2021 Iowa high school softball season, but this is anything but an intermission.
Midway through the fourth week of the regular season, conference races are taking shape and teams are making a push for favorable postseason draws (the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union expects to release regional brackets late next week).
Here are five notable items from the first half of the season:
Western Dubuque is a legitimate MVC contender
Now in its third summer in the Mississippi Valley Conference, Western Dubuque (16-2, 13-1 Wamac) has the best record in the entire league. The lone blemish came in a split with Iowa City High on June 8.
The Bobcats rallied for three runs in the top of the seventh inning for a 4-2 second-game victory over Linn-Mar on Tuesday, completing a sweep.
Senior Sydney Kennedy is an all-around star, hitting .548 with 16 doubles and 29 RBIs while compiling an 8-1 pitching record and 1.92 ERA.
Western Dubuque will be favored to sweep its next three league doubleheaders. Then it gets tough starting June 23, with twinbills against Cedar Rapids Kennedy, Dubuque Hempstead, Iowa City Liberty, Cedar Rapids Jefferson and Cedar Rapids Prairie.
Anamosa’s Emily Watters has emerged as an elite pitcher
After pitching just eight innings last year, Anamosa sophomore Emily Watters realized her role in the circle would be expanded with the graduation of Kalli Minger.
“I knew I’d have a new job,” she said.
She has done it well, becoming one of the area’s most prolific strikeout artists. She has 143 of them in 71 innings on her way to a 10-3 record and 0.99 ERA.
Watters has good velocity and is adept at hitting corners. And she’s a lefty.
“I think my ball spins different,” she said.
Until further notice, North Linn still rules the Tri-Rivers
North Linn takes a 75-game Tri-Rivers Conference win streak into its Thursday twinbill at Lisbon.
The Lynx (21-1, 14-0) have overcome the loss of six starters from their 2020 state runner-up team (due to graduation). The team is hitting .409 with 28 home runs, seven each by Jill Smith and Skylar Benesh, six by Jenna Lemley.
Smith has 40 RBIs; Benesh has scored 40 runs.
Lisbon (18-4, 13-1) will be a formidable foe behind pitcher Ryleigh Allgood (14-2, 116 strikeouts).
The Wamac is packed with high-quality depth, again
Led by Mount Vernon and resurgent Clear Creek Amana, the Wamac Conference sports seven ranked squads.
A traditional power, 4A No. 13 CCA (16-3, 12-2, 12 straight Wamac wins) has returned to prosperity after four straight losing seasons between 2015 and 2019; the Clippers were 14-10 last year. They are bolstered by young pitching; Ashley Webb (9-2) is a sophomore, Bliss Beck (4-1) is a freshman.
Mount Vernon (14-2, 11-1) has climbed to No. 2 in the 3A rankings. The Mustangs have four hitters above .450, including leadoff hitter Nadia Telecky, who leads the team in runs (23), RBIs (18) and steals (16).
The Mustangs are being pushed in the East Division by 4A No. 10 West Delaware (12-3, 8-2), 3A No. 10 Solon (16-5, 10-4) and 4A No. 12 Marion (15-5, 8-4).
In the West, CCA’s challengers are 3A No. 3 Williamsburg (12-6, 9-3) and 4A No. 14 Benton Community (9-6, 6-4).
Quietly and youthfully, Highland has it rolling
Highland hasn’t yet made its way into the Class 1A rankings, but the under-the-radar Huskies have fashioned a fine resume.
With just two seniors on the roster, Highland is 14-2. The top six hitters consist of two juniors, two sophomores and two freshmen.
Of those ninth-graders, Sarah Burton paces the squad in hitting (.480), runs (26) and steals (19), and Payton Brun has a team-high 20 RBIs.
Junior pitcher Grace Batcheller (10-2) has a tidy 63-to-8 strikeout-to-walk rate.