Teams that decide against pitching to Ankeny Centennial slugger Kendyl Lindaman spark a debate involving elite players and high school softball in Iowa.
Lindaman, Centennial’s sophomore all-state catcher, tied the state’s single-season home run record with 24 as a freshman. Entering Saturday, she had hit 10.
She has only about half the official at-bats as a season ago, though, because she leads the state in walks — many intentional — by a wide margin.
“I think they’re going to have a hard time keeping her in the high school program,” said West Des Moines Valley coach Tom Bakey, who coached an elite slugger of his own in Molly McClelland. “I imagine she’s getting calls from club teams every weekend, ‘Come play for us.’
“That would be really, really bad for Iowa high school softball.”
Garland Shirley, Lindaman’s coach, agreed with the concern.
“To be ready to play at Minnesota (in college), Kendyl needs to see pitching,” Shirley said. “By not pitching to her, it’s part of the game, yes, but it can be a disservice to the upper-echelon players. Iowa is the only one that plays high school softball in the summer, so traveling teams push to steal players.
“Kendyl made a choice to play and support Iowa high school sports. But if people don’t pitch to her, why play here?”
Bakey and Shirley praised elite pitcher Paige Lowary of Dallas Center-Grimes for finishing her career at an Iowa school. Lowary will play college softball at Missouri.
Lindaman’s father, Trent, said he expects Kendyl to continue playing at Centennial — but would support whatever decision she makes.
“She plays spring leagues, fall leagues, she plays in Florida and California and all these places,” Trent Lindaman said. “The high school season is a chance to play with friends, have fun and work toward a common goal, which you don’t get in the club-team environment.
“It’s different wearing your school across your chest, playing in front of your home crowd.”
Check back with DesMoinesRegister.com later Saturday for more from sports columnist Bryce Miller on softball standout Kendyl Lindaman.