116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Much has changed with the North Linn softball program since last season.
A new coach. New pitchers who are being relied upon.
But the fortunes, those haven’t changed at all.
The Lynx are off to a 9-0 start under Chad Spore, outscoring their competition by a count of 109-6.
“It helped that we had 10 hitting days (in the offseason),” Spore said. “It allowed me to get to know the kids.
“And our pitching was ready to go. They worked hard this winter.”
“Marv had a lot of success, but I wanted to come in and set a different tone, and I think the kids have bought in,” said Spore, a seventh-grade teacher in the College Community School District and a Robins resident.
Despite the losses — including all-staters Abby and Grace Flanagan and Hannah Bridgewater — there is plenty of water in the well.
Jill Smith (.435) leads the state with 17 RBIs, and Jenna Lemley (.565) is third with 16. Both are juniors.
The tablesetters are freshman Skyler Benesh (.455, 18 runs, 14 stolen bases) and senior Kaitlyn Sommerfelt (.538, 15 runs, 13 steals).
Pitchers Maddie Stepanek (senior) and Ellie Flanagan (sophomore) have combined to allow one earned run in 39 innings, striking out 52 and walking 12.
“We pitch to our strengths,” Spore said.
The Lynx have won 29 straight regular-season games and own a 67-game Tri-Rivers Conference win streak. Their last league setback was June 26, 2017, against Alburnett.
One point of emphasis when Spore took the job was to enhance the Lynx’s non-conference schedule. They’ll travel to Eldridge, June 11-12, for a tough four-game challenge against North Scott, Louisa-Muscatine, Western Dubuque and Bettendorf.
Other highlights include a Tri-Rivers showdown at Lisbon (June 17) and non-conference dates with Benton Community (home, June 24) and Cedar Rapids Xavier (away, July 3).
“I’m not worried about our record,” Spore said. “The state will know who we’ve played. We need to see good pitching.”
North Linn is one of eight area teams that have played multiple games and are still unbeaten. The others are Mount Vernon (6-0), Benton Community (5-0), Western Dubuque (4-0), Decorah (3-0), Iowa City Regina (3-0), BGM (2-0) and Monticello (2-0).
Emily Watters: Close to untouchable
Anamosa pitcher Emily Watters opened the season May 24 with an astonishing 23 strikeouts in an eight-inning, one-hit masterpiece against Northeast (the Raiders won, 1-0).
And she hasn’t really slowed down since.
A sophomore, Watters has fanned 47 batters in 19 innings (a rate of 17.3 per 7 innings pitched). She is 3-1 with a 0.00 ERA; her lone loss, 2-1 against Mount Vernon, was a 13-strikeout two-hitter.
Watters has allowed three hits, and batters are hitting .044 against her. Her WHIP (0.32) ranks second in the state.
Anamosa is 5-1.