Prep Softball

Abby Flanagan pitches North Linn to 2A state softball championship

Lynx break scoreless draw in the second inning, blank Alta-Aurelia, 3-0

FORT DODGE — North Linn? Softball school?

You betcha.

Abby Flanagan struck out 16 batters and scattered four hits — only one after the third inning — to lead the top-ranked Lynx past No. 13 Alta-Aurelia, 3-0, for the Class 2A state softball championship Thursday night at the Rogers Sports Complex.

“It’s just jubilation. It feels wonderful,” Coach Marc Porter said. “I’m happy for the kids mostly, not for me. I’ve been there before.”

Porter was an assistant when Alburnett won state titles in 1999 and 2005. Those were great teams,

“This was even better,” he said. “The best team I’ve ever been associated with, top to bottom, bar none.”

North Linn finished 42-4, winning 25 of its final 26 games. Thursday’s shutout was its 24th of the season.

Flanagan was named the captain of the all-tournament team. She was joined on the honor unit by teammates Hannah Bridgewater and Kaitlyn Sommerfelt.

“I just had to keep mixing it up,” Flanagan said. “I knew they liked to go after the first pitch. So I had to be careful where those first-pitch strikes went.”

There were a lot of first-pitch strikes. And a lot of strike-threes.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

“Abby was phenomenal,” Bridgewater said. “We’re very, very lucky to have her.”

The Lynx were making their first state-tournament appearance, and made the very most of it. They outscored their three opponents here by a 17-1 margin.

Not bad for Fort Dodge rookies.

After going down quietly in the first inning, North Linn struck for a pair of runs in the second.

Grace Flanagan began the uprising with a sharp grounder that got through the legs of the shortstop for a two-base error, then courtesy runner Elise Ware scored on a single by Jill Smith.

A wild pitch moved Smith to third, then Natalie Gallery’s infield single brought her home for a 2-0 advantage.

“Once we got those first couple of runs, we had a lot of confidence,” Gallery said.

North Linn had opportunities to extend the advantage, but stranded runners in scoring position in the third, fourth and fifth innings.

The Lynx finally tacked one on in the sixth. Gallery doubled to deep center field and was awarded third base on obstruction.

“It was right down the middle, and once I hit it, it felt amazing,” Gallery said.

Jenna Lemley drove Gallery home with a sacrifice fly to make it 3-0, and then it was just a matter of getting three final outs.

All three of them came via strikeout, and a mob scene followed on the infield.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

Alta-Aurelia (22-10) got a pair of singles in the top of the first, but Flanagan (29-2) got out of it with a pair of strikeouts. Flanagan walked two in the fourth, but worked her way out of it with a strikeout of pinch hitter Brielle Engelmann, her 10th K of the game.

Porter has amassed an 80-9 record in two years at North Linn, a school that wasn’t exactly known for softball prowess until this current crop came along.

“We’ve played a lot together since we were little,” Bridgewater said.

Flanagan said, “We really wanted this for Paige (Doyl, the Lynx’s lone senior. We’ve been playing with her for so long.”

The Lynx were ranked No. 1 most of the season, then proved their superiority here this week with victories of 6-0, 8-1 and 3-0. Nine seniors return for 2020.

NORTH LINN 3, ALTA-AURELIA 0

2A State Championship, at Fort Dodge

Alta-Aurelia 000 000 0 — 0 4 2

North Linn 020 001 x — 3 4 0

Abby Kraemer and Alli Magnussen. Abby Flanagan and Grace Flanagan. W — A. Flanagan (29-2). L — Kraemer (21-10).

l Comments: (319) 368-8857; jeff.linder@thegazette.com

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.