SULLY — Competitive always describes athletes from Lynnville-Sully High School. The 2019 editions of the Hawk softball and baseball teams will be no exceptions to that Lynnville-Sully tradition.
A year ago the summer sports for LSHS became a family affair. Scott Alberts moved from his longtime softball assistant coaching positions to take the reins of the Hawk baseball program. Stacey Alberts, Scott’s wife, heads into her 14th season as Hawk softball head coach.
The Hawk diamond squads open the 2019 season on Monday hosting Montezuma. The South Iowa Cedar League conference games begin at 6 p.m. in Sully.
Lynnville-Sully softball is packed with seasoned players for this year. The Hawks are ready to improve on last year’s 19-15 showing.
They finished 12-4 in SICL action, tied for third with Colfax-Mingo.
“We should be strong and competitive,” Stacey Alberts said. “Our strength of schedule is very difficult this year.”
Alberts said North Mahaska, Sigourney and BGM will contend for the top four spots in the SICL. Lynnville-Sully expects to be in the mix at the top of the conference.
The Hawk softball team returns nine players from last year’s varsity led by three senior captains — Carson Fisk, Shiloh Cunningham and Kaylee Maasdam. Fisk and Cunningham earned SICL all-conference honors.
Other All-SICL players back are junior Mallory Loftus and sophomores Caitlin Alberts, Denali Conover and Korrine Jansen. Conover and Jansen were the starting battery — pitcher and catcher — for the Hawks a year ago.
Conover was 14-13 in the circle with a 3.00 ERA. She recorded 71 strikeouts and walked 46. With the bat, she had two doubles
Jansen earned all-state honors as a catcher, She was a .373 batter, leading the team with four home runs. She drove in 29 runs and scored 24. She was 14-of-16 on stolen base attempts.
The Hawks have their starting infield back with Loftus at third base, Fisk at shortstop Alberts at second base and Cunningham at first base. Alberts and Loftus have pitching experience.
Loftus led the team with a .422 batting average and had eight doubles. She was one of the top base stealer in the state, going 47-of-49.
Cunningham hit .349 with five doubles, three triples and one home run. She was 17-of-18 on stolen bases.
Alberts drew 20 walks and scored 26 runs. She had six doubles. Fisk hit at a .242 clip and went 11-of-12 stealing bases.
Maasdam and juniors Janelle Rozendaal and Kaleah Ehresman fill the outfield for the Hawks. Also back to play outfield or as a utility player are sophomores Laci Keen, Megan Van Zante and Cayler Noun Harder.
“We have athleticism and we’re aggressive on the base paths,” Alberts said. “We have pitching and catching depth.”
She said the only real concern going into the season is “the difficulty in getting athletes ready in these overlapping seasons.”
The Hawks have four freshmen on the squad — Aliya James, Kennedy Kesling, Reagan McFarland and Lily Zylstra. The assistant coach is Shelby Newell.
Finding their stride under a new coach, the Lynnville-Sully Hawk baseball players struggled at times in 2018. They finished 10-13 overall,
The Hawks scored 109 runs in those 23 games. They allowed 117 runs.
“I believe we will see a more balanced offensive attack from our players this season,” Scott Alberts said. “I am expecting this team to start strong and get stronger as we start to put some games under our belts.”
Lynnville-Sully has seven returning lettermen from a year ago. The Hawks were 7-9 in SICL play.
Leading the charge on the field for the Hawks are juniors Blaize Kuhlmann, Bray Noun Harder and senior Evan Squires. Kuhlmann earned All-SICL and All-District honors.
Also back are juniors Slater Young and Skyler Sanders, senior Nick Rea and sophomore Blake Rea.
Kuhlmann and Noun Harder bring experience at the plate and on the mound.
Kuhlmann led the Hawks offensively with a .397 batting average and seven doubles. He was 9-of-11 on stolen base attempts.
Noun Harder was second with a .333 batting average and 12 RBIs. He had 23 hits and three doubles, scoring 12 runs.
On the mound, Noun Harder went 3-3 with three saves. He had a 2.70 ERA, allowing 32 runs. He gave up 26 hits, walked 28 batters and struck out 34.
Kuhlmann racked up a team-high 42 strikeouts as he went 2-3. He had a 2.54 ERA, allowing 18 runs on 22 hits and 29 walks.
Squires batted at a .304 clip with 17 hits. He had two doubles, one triple and one home run. He also went 2-0 pitching with a 1.38 ERA and 26 strikeouts.
“We will have better depth at both pitching and catching positions. We’re still working with the players at different positions right now,” Alberts said.
Alberts said he and assistant coach Dustin Dunsbergen are trying to find the best combination of kids to give the Hawks the best shot at winning on a nightly basis. He said it’s tough managing through the schedule chaos of baseball preseason with athletes in track and golf along with senior trip and graduation.
Other athletes working in the mix for varsity playing time are juniors Chaison Loupee and Kinnick McFarland, sophomores Mason Jansen and Payton Van Wyk. Freshmen Braden Alberts and Owen Norrish and eighth-grader Conner Maston are there too.’
Alberts said the competition in the SICL will be tough night in and night out. He said there are many teams from the top half of the conference last year returning a core group of young pitchers and bats that will positively impact play on a nightly basis.
“I expect Lynnville-Sully to push for a top spot in our conference, but that is no easy task,” Alberts said. “I know the only piece we really have control over is our own preparation and our own attention to details.”
Alberts said the Hawks have to keep their pitchers and catchers healthy for the season and manage pitch counts. He said they want to develop the No. 6 through No. 9 hitters for more offensive production.
“We have good veteran leadership on the infield. Our players have to learn role acceptance with a large squad,” Alberts said.
Other members of the team are sophomores Carter Dunsbergen, Aiden LeCompte and Dakota Seastrom; freshmen Ryan Annee, Bryce Byrd, Gage Elscott, Josh Hardenbrook and Noah Johnson.
Contact Jocelyn Sheets at
641-792-3121 ext. 6535 or firstname.lastname@example.org