Prep Softball

Softball notes: North Linn responded after getting 'our butts beat'

Refocused Lynx handled the bigger schools at Hawk Invitational

North Linn’s Abby Flanagan winds up a pitch during a semifinal win over West Delaware at the Hawk Invitational softball tournament Saturday at Manchester. The Lynx have responded after a rough day June 8 at Eldridge, and take a 25-3 record and a 40-game Tri-Rivers Conference win streak into Thursday’s doubleheader at Springville. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
North Linn’s Abby Flanagan winds up a pitch during a semifinal win over West Delaware at the Hawk Invitational softball tournament Saturday at Manchester. The Lynx have responded after a rough day June 8 at Eldridge, and take a 25-3 record and a 40-game Tri-Rivers Conference win streak into Thursday’s doubleheader at Springville. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

Despite the mounting win total, North Linn softball coach Marv Porter didn’t like everything he was seeing.

“We were getting a nonchalant attitude, thinking we didn’t have to work too hard,” Porter said.

A trip to Eldridge on June 8 provided a timely, necessary wake-up call. The Lynx suffered decisive losses — 8-0 to Louisa-Muscatine, 11-1 to North Scott.

“We got our butts beat a little bit,” Porter said. “We realized we’re not as good as we thought we were. And ever since then, we’ve had a new attitude. We’ve been working harder.”

The Class 2A top-ranked Lynx (25-3) have followed with eight straight wins, including four on their way to winning the Hawk Invitational last weekend at Manchester. They closed with wins over Wamac Conference representatives Independence, West Delaware and Williamsburg.

Thursday, it’s back to Tri-Rivers Conference action, at Springville. North Linn is 16-0 in the Tri-Rivers and owns a 40-game conference winning streak dating back to late in the 2017 season.

The Lynx were beaten in an extra-inning regional final last year by Iowa City Regina, a program that traditionally schedules big, and always benefits in July.

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“(Athletics director) Mike (Hilmer) and I talked in the offseason, and we just needed more competition this year,” Porter said.

The Lynx have speed, power and pitching.

Junior Abby Flanagan is 16-1 in the circle with a 0.53 ERA and a 185-to-8 strikeout-to-walk ledger. Her twin sister, Grace Flanagan, is the catcher and calls the pitches.

“This is the first time in 40-plus years that I don’t call the pitches,” Porter said. “Grace and I are on the same page.”

The Flanagans have a thumbprint on the offense too: Abby is hitting .440, Grace .413. They have driven in 30 and 29 runs, respectively; Jill Smith leads the Lynx with 32.

Junior Hannah Bridgewater and sophomore Kaitlyn Sommerfelt are the table-setters. They have scored 37 and 30 runs, and both have stolen 15 bases.

“The only thing we don’t do well right now is bunt,” Porter said. “We’ll get better at that.”

Loaded Linn-Mar/Alburnett tournament

Class 5A top-five teams Fort Dodge and Cedar Rapids Kennedy highlight the 16-team Linn-Mar/Alburnett Invitational tournament, which begins Friday.

The championship game is 3:15 Saturday afternoon, likely at Linn-Mar.

Fort Dodge (16-3) is ranked No. 3 in the big-school class and handed No. 4 Kennedy (19-1) its only loss. The Cougars have followed with 15 consecutive victories.

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Nine teams in the field are ranked, seven in the bottom half of the draw. Fort Dodge opens with 5A No. 9 Pleasant Valley. Other first-round matchups of rated teams are 4A No. 10 Cedar Rapids Xavier against 3A No. 9 Mount Vernon, and 2A No. 2 Durant against 3A No. 13 New Hampton.

IGHSAU pairings next week

In a recent memo, the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union stated that regional pairings will be released sometime next week.

The regional road begins July 8 in 1A and 2A, July 10 in 3A, July 11 in 4A and 5A.

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

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