There was a time, back when schools played a fall season, plus with a 50-game summer regular season, in which 100-win softball pitchers were common.
Now it’s more of a trickle. Two or three per year in the state.
This year, Abby Flanagan is one of them.
A senior at North Linn, Flanagan hit the 100-victory plateau Thursday when the Class 2A top-ranked Lynx handled Starmont. Two days later, she recorded her 1,000th career strikeout in a sweep of West Delaware.
“I’m pretty happy to get both of those close together,” said Flanagan, a senior who will play softball at Des Moines Area Community College next year. “I didn’t think it would work out like that, but it did.”
Flanagan is 7-0 this season, 102-22 in her career, heading into Wednesday’s game at Dubuque Wahlert. Virtually every pitch in that span has been thrown to her twin, catcher Grace Flanagan.
“Having Grace around has made it a lot easier,” Flanagan said. “She’s able to practice at home with me, and that makes it a lot easier.”
The Flanagans’ pitching and catching routine began in elementary school. In that time, the riseball has become Abby’s trademark pitch.
“It’s definitely the pitch that moves the most,” she said.
Flanagan became the program’s ace as an eighth-grader, chalking up a 23-9 record. Then it was 19-8 as a freshman, 24-3 as a sophomore and 29-2 as a junior, when the Lynx captured the 2A state championship.
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North Linn is 8-0 this season (6-0 Tri-Rivers Conference) and carries a 14-game win streak.
Speaking of milestones ...
Benton Community Coach Eric Stenberg picked up win No. 200 (and 201) when the Bobcats swept Clear Creek Amana, 1-0 and 8-6, Tuesday at Oxford.
Stenberg is in his seventh season with the Bobcats and owns a 201-59 mark, highlighted by a 44-2 campaign in 2016 that was climaxed by a Class 3A state championship. Benton was the 3A runner-up in 2015.
This year’s squad is 4-2.
Tearing it up early
As of Wednesday morning, Linn-Mar’s Kennedy Rentschler ranks second in the state in batting average at .846, collecting 11 hits in 13 at bats.
Cedar Rapids Kennedy’s Addy Alber (1.636) and Iowa City High’s Keli Potter (1.500) are second and fourth in slugging percentage.
Six area teams — Cedar Rapids Kennedy, Linn-Mar, North Linn, Jesup, MFL MarMac and Turkey Valley — are among 35 in the state that were undefeated through Tuesday.
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