Mason City - Dowling Class 4A State Tournament Baseball

Mason City players and coaches stand for the National Anthem before Thursday's Class 4A quarterfinal game vs. Dowling Catholic.

DES MOINES — For Mason City’s group of 11 seniors, Thursday’s Class 4A quarterfinal loss to Dowling Catholic at the state tournament was a hard one to take. Getting to play in Principal Park was nice and all, but this group wanted and felt it had earned more.

That doesn’t take away anything from what they accomplished over their careers, though.

About half the group played on the varsity team as sophomores and the team finished 19-21. As juniors, all were there and all played major roles in helping Mason City take that next step.

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And finally, they closed it out Thursday by leaving a legacy that guides the way for future Mohawks to follow.

“It’s something special that we’ll hold on to forever,” Zach Hendrickson said. “We’ve been playing since third grade, we have that bond together that we’ve always had, and it’s an amazing experience to experience together. We’ve been brothers forever and always will be. It sucks now, but I think we’ll realize that we were happy to play here.”

The roller coaster ride for this group ended up being maybe the best thing for them.

There were struggles early on, but that made them better. When it came to the final few weeks of the season, you could tell watching them that they were playing with the swagger of a team that believed in itself. Mason City rallied from a 3-7 start and won 14 of its final 18 games to make the state tournament.

Part of that was the experience that came from those early years when the grind was a struggle at times.

“Obviously I have a huge heart for our senior class,” Mason City coach Troy Rood said. “I’ve been coaching those guys for the past 10 years and I’m just so proud of them getting where they wanted to be, as far as where they wanted to play their last game. Their vision wasn’t to make the state tournament, it was to be state champions. That’s why they are who they are.”

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The class that includes Mac Skogen, Dylan Voves, Weston Schultz, Carson Parker, Derek Walker, Alex White, Trey Wiegmann, Hunter Dingman, Nate Janssen, Josh VandenBerg and Hendrickson.

With their time at Mason City done, it’s the memory of a team who fought they want to leave behind.

“It was just the way we came back,” Schultz said. “There were so many games this year where we did crazy things. We were kind of a scrappy group and it’s good to know we could be any team in the entire state if we wanted to.”

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The Mohawks still have some firepower left for next year.

Sophomore Dylan Miller established himself as a quality No. 2 arm behind Hendrickson and pitched big innings for the Mohawks in the postseason, including 2-plus on Thursday.

Juniors Bryce Butler and Jake Rood came into their own near the end of the season as well. Butler had two saves out of the bullpen in Mason City’s run, recorded two hits on Thursday and was heavily relied on for his defense up the middle. And Rood recorded at least one hit in the Mohawks final five games.

Coach Rood said the group will go down as one of the best he’s coached and it’ll be their names he brings up, along with the others greats before them, they will be first among those credited when Mason City finally reaches the peak of winning a state title.

“This group is just so special and I’m happy for them and for what they’ve accomplished,” Rood said. “I know they wanted more but I think once the dust settles — it might take a few weeks, it might take a few months, it might take a few years —  they’re going to be proud of what they’ve done and what they’ve overcame.”

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