June 16th, 2021, probably just felt like the other six wins as the Lake Mills softball team recorded the final out of a 10-5 victory over Belmond-Klemme – a team they lost to just 22 days before. But with that 10-5 victory, the Bulldogs recorded their seventh win of the season, more than the previous three years combined.
Since the 2018 season, wins have been tough to come by, and non-conference wins have been impossible. The Bulldogs went 6-59 overall from 2018-2020, and you’d have to go back to the 2017 season to find their last non-conference victory, a 9-3 win on June 29th against Northwood-Kensett – no one from that 2017 team is currently on the roster.
The Bulldogs, currently 11-11 overall and 10-5 in the conference, have been helped by an offensive explosion this season. Lake Mills has scored double-digit runs in 11 of their games so far, including a season-high 21 runs against Bishop Garrigan on May 28th. The Bulldogs have plated 176 runs this season, averaging eight runs per game. To compare that to past years, in 2018 and 2019 – the last two full seasons – the Bulldogs scored 170 runs in those two seasons combined – 85 per year. Head coach Bill Byrnes says the girls are older, stronger, and working at getting better.
Sophomore Madison Edwards has an impressive .456 batting average and is slugging .607. She currently leads the team in hits (31), singles (22), and RBI (30). She, along with junior Kit Byars, has homered twice to pace the team. Sophomores Finley Rogstad and Natalie Brandenburg and freshman Brynn Rognes and Alexis Anderson are currently batting over .300.
The 21 runs scored to beat Bishop Garrigan was a bit of payback to the Golden Bears, who have beat up on Lake Mills over the past few years. Over the last nine games before May 28th, Bishop Garrigan had outscored Lake Mills 107-14, winning all nine of those matchups. Lake Mills also ended three other streaks, which had been dark clouds hanging over the top. First, they beat Osage, snapping a six-game streak to the Green Devils, who last lost to Lake Mills on June 15th, 2015. The win over their former conference rival also ended the previously mentioned non-conference woes. Last night, they beat Garner-Hayfield-Ventura, snapping a six-game win streak for the Cardinals over the Bulldogs. It was the third time the two teams have played this year, with GHV winning the first two matchups.
Finishing above .500 is a realistic feat: Lake Mills ends the regular season tonight against Forest City, which they beat on June 11th, 11-5. The Bulldogs will also open the postseason at home against Manson NW Webster, who has struggled to a 6-16 overall record. Lake Mills has finished with an above .500 record once since 2013-2014, a 15-14 record in 2016-17.
In the circle, the Bulldogs have relied on Kohagen for the bulk of the work. She has an 8-6 record in 15 starts striking out 118 in 93 innings. She has a 4.22 ERA, and opponents are batting only .156 against her. Classmate Dottie Byars has also started four games; She has an ERA of 8.12 and a 3-2 record. Junior Leah Moen, who went out of her comfort zone to pitch last year for the Bulldogs, has started three games and came in as relief once.
Lake Mills has also competed this season without junior Brooke Bergo, who had the best batting average of girls returning for this season besides Edwards. Bergo went down with an injury this past winter, which has held her out of the softball season. With no seniors on the roster and many key contributors underclassmen, Byrnes hopes this is the ground floor of a consistently good softball program at Lake Mills.
With a victory over Forest City tonight, Lake Mills will guarantee themselves at least a share of second place in the conference. Second place is crowded; Belmond-Klemme has completed their conference games, finishing at 10-6. Lake Mills is 10-5, and so is Bishop Garrigan. Bishop Garrigan was on pace to take second place before losing to Forest City. The Indians’ win opened the door for Belmond-Klemme and Lake Mills to share runners-up with the Golden Bears.
The Lake Mills postseason softball game will be broadcast live on KIOW.com – under the same link the basketball games and wrestling meets were this past winter. Former Lake Mills softball coach Jim Boehmer will be on the call for the contest.
Zarren Egesdal is the sports director for Coloff Media radio stations KIOW and KHAM. He can be reached daily at email@example.com or 641-585-1073. Do you have a story idea? Feel free to contact him. Zarren is an award-winning journalist providing coverage to all area schools. Throughout the year, you will hear Zarren calling games as the ‘voice of the Forest City Indians’ on KIOW (107.3), the Indians’ flagship station.