With the release of the Iowa Girls Coaches Association all-state teams, the softball season draws to a close.
The season was a successful one for the north Iowa area as four teams advanced to the state tournament, and, as always, some familiar names will leave the scene due to graduation.
Still, one dominant theme of the season was the number of underclassmen playing huge roles for their teams, so the future of softball in the area should be even brighter.
Charles City finished third in Class 4A this season, and Comets coach Brian Bohlen must replace his pitcher, Samantha Heyer, who garnered first-team all-state honors in Class 4A.
The Comets, though, will not take any steps backwards as they return all of their starting position players next year, including Liz Fiser, another first-team Class 4A selection as a junior, and freshman shortstop Rachel Chambers, among others.
“I think they had a good experience,” Bohlen said of his talented youth. “They learned to take the pressure.”
Charles City is not alone in the returning depth for 2020.
Bishop Garrigan, which advanced to its first-ever state tournament, had no seniors on the roster.
Mackenzie Meister, Madison Meister and Amanda Miller were all listed on the Class 1A all-state teams for the Golden Bears.
Central Springs, a Class 2A state tournament participant for the fifth consecutive season, will say goodbye to senior pitcher Hannah Ausenhus, but much like Charles City, Panthers coach Belinda Nelson should return all of her starting position players.
Algona, another team that made its first-ever state tournament appearance, loses the most to graduation of the area state qualifiers, but the Bulldogs are not starting from scratch as they return first-team Class 3A pitcher Kameryn Etherington, among others.
The youth movement is not limited to the teams that fought their way through to the state tournament.
Newman Catholic, which recovered from a slow start to win 21 games, brings back Lily Castle and Paige Leiininger, both of whom claimed spots on the Class 1A all-state teams.
Clear Lake, which finished just 10-15 in 2019, will expect bigger things as the Lions lose just three seniors from their roster and return second-team Class 3A selection Julia Merfeld, among others.
North Butler, which finished 21-8, also loses just three seniors and returns eighth-grader Kiya Johnson, who was an honorable mention choice in Class 1A after batting .462 and recording a10-5 record in the circle.
Emma Ramon, a Class 1A third-team choice from Rockford, should be back to lead a Warriors team that will be missing just two players.
Mason City may need to fill the most gaps in the area, but the Mohawks will start with Sami Miller, a third-team, Class 4A honoree, among others.
As competitive as the 2019 softball season was in North Iowa, the past season will likely just be a preview of what is to come in 2020 and beyond.