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Friday, November 16, 2018
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Metro Sports Report

Linn-Mar softball in rebuilding mode

(EDITOR'S NOTE: Third in a series of preseason Metro softball stories. Next: Marion.)

The Linn-Mar softball team is looking at another rebuilding season this year after going 12-23 last year and getting beat out in the regional semifinals by fourth-ranked Jefferson.

“I think this year is just another rebuilding year,” said senior Lindsey Harms, a first team all-conference shortstop. “It’s just Leandra (Martins) and me, and then we have two other juniors, so we are really young, but we are going to be better.”

The Lions lost three seniors from last year's team, headlined by third team all-state third baseman Leah Beck.

“She was our best hitter and then I am the only returning outfielder, so we have a lot of holes to fill with those three missing,” Martins said.

Luckily for Linn-Mar, Coach Jon Harms said he thinks they have enough young talent to help fill the holes left by graduation.

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Kennedy seeks back-to-back state titles

(EDITOR'S NOTE: Second in a series of preseason Metro baseball stories. Next: Linn-Mar.)

The Cedar Rapids Kennedy baseball team will have a fat bull's-eye on its back as the 2011 campaign begins next week.

As it turns out, that's perfectly all right with Coach Bret Hoyer.

"I love it," he said. "I'd take it every single year, because it usually means you won the state title. I'd love to have it every single year."

Indeed, the Cougars won the Class 4A state title last summer with a 32-10 record and appear to have another strong club this year. The players who hit No.1 through No.6 in the championship game lineup against Iowa City West are all back, led by all-state right fielder andpitcher Austin Christensen.

There were some key departures from 2010 with Ryan Dusil, Sam Hunter, B.J. Cunningham, Brendan Drahn and Connor Bartosh all lost to graduation, but Kennedy appears to have the depth and talent to make another run at the top.

As usual, Hoyer plans to use a variety of combinations during the early part of the season in pursuit of his best lineup.

"We're consistently inconsistent in May and June," he said, "but we're pretty consistent after the 4th of July because we're willing to take our lumps and move people around to different spots and let the chips fall where they may. That's always our goal, to be playing our best baseball when July rolls around."

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Excitement building for Metro football season

The high school football season is a little more than three months away but already there is anticipation in some Metro districts.

Prairie will unveil its refurbished John Wall Field on opening night, Aug. 26, in a matchup against Washington. Work was scheduled to begin this month on a variety of  improvements, including field turf, addition of about 1,500 seats on the home side and additional bleachers on the visitor’s side.

At Linn-Mar, its new stadium has been open for spring sports. It will be showcased for the first time during football season Sept. 2 when the Lions host Kennedy. The Lions will have four home games next fall but won’t have to leave the Metro area for a game with the exception of a trip to Dubuque Wahlert.

Of course, Kingston Stadium underwent significant changes in 2009 with a $2.8 million project that included the addition of field turf, improvement in lighting and the addition and upgrade of restrooms. Jefferson, Kennedy and Washington will play their third home seasons at the improved stadium, which is going on 60 years old.

Visiting teams and fans will have to make some adjustments when they go to Prairie and Linn-Mar but, coupled with the work at Kingston, it’s great to see the Metro football stadiums evolving. By the way, Marion High School has its own plans, as you can see on its website an artist’s rendering of a new stadium.

Football schedules have been released. Jefferson and Kennedy each will play six games at Kingston and will leave town only twice. Washington has five games at Kingston and will leave the Metro area three times. Prairie, Xavier and Marion all have five home contests.

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Young Cougars aim for winning record

(EDITOR'S NOTE: Second in a series of preseason Metro softball stories. Next: Linn-Mar.)

The Kennedy softball team is young again this season, but not as young as it was last year.

The Cougars are coming off a rebuilding season in which they went 9-22. The team lost just three seniors from that team, which had seven freshmen and three eighth graders on it.

“We are a really young team, but we are developing and we are getting better and communicating,” said Kennedy’s lone senior, pitcher Kassi Nunnikhoven. “We are learning a lot from each other and helping each other out.”

The Cougars are excited to see what they can do coming into this season, now that the team has some experience under its belt. The Cougars return both of their starting pitchers from last season in Nunnikhoven and sophomore Taylor Sohn. Nunnikhoven was 3-16  with a 2.97 ERA and Sohn 4-9 with a 4.65 ERA.

Kennedy is also excited to be bringing back a core of young hitters that lead the team offensively last season, led by junior infielder Amanda Gaffey who hit .402 with three home runs and 19 RBIs.

“They have already set the bar for themselves,” said Coach Katie Bova. “I think they will have to live up to that bar, or exceed it. They are going to have to push each other and challenge each other because this is a good group of girls. They are pretty talented.”

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Stokes named to Parade All-America team

Linn-Mar senior Kiah Stokes received another honor Sunday when she was named to the 2011 Parade All-America basketball team.

Stokes, a 6-foot-3 center, was a triple-threat in high school in scoring (1,704), rebounds (1,239) and blocked shots (515). She averaged 16.8 points, 12.2 rebounds and 5.1 blocks for her career and helped Linn-Mar win the 2010 state title.

Stokes will be a freshman at the University of Connecticut this year.

Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, a 6-foot guard from Anaheim, Calif., was named the Parade Player of the Year. Mosqueda-Lewis also will be attending Connecticut.

A total of 40 players from 30 states were named Parade All-Americans.

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