It seems like a lifetime ago that I started here at the Pilot-Tribune but when I glance over at the calendar, it’s only been three years. Three years ago I stared in the middle of June 2016. It was right after soccer had come to an end, baseball and softball was getting in full swing and the Marathon to Marathon was in it’s second to last year.
That was the first thing I covered for the Pilot Tribune, the Marathon to Marathon. I thought it was a cruel thing to wake up super early on a Saturday and spend the next few hours covering people crossing a finish line. But, I met some interesting people on that day and got a feel for what made the marathon a special event for the area.
Sadly it’d be the only one I cover as an intern took care of it the next year and that was it for the Marathon to Marathon.
But baseball and softball season feels special to me because it’s when I got my start for this area. First job out of college and I didn’t know what to expect covering six high schools. Looking through everything, the first games I covered were over in Alta as the Warriors played Sioux Central. I couldn’t tell you who won that night, or anything at all about the games.
I took a look at some of those photos from that game the other day and was surprised as how bad they were. I’ll be honest about it. They were far from useable in any form. Blurry, not really in focus and just overall not super great.
The first time I went to State to cover anything was for the Newell-Fonda softball team. They took fourth place that year, and I remember it mostly being hot. Such as Iowa goes in July, right?
It’s odd to think that the freshmen from that season are now seniors are are coming up on their final games in their school colors this time of year. The first real big non-recap article I did was about the great young pitching, and other players, in the area.
I looked through it again the other day, interested in seeing who was profiled and how the rest of their careers turned out. Alta-Aurelia Coach Dave Turnquist mentioned that Abby Kraemer, Jess Flaherty and Brittany Turnquist were all going to play into the future of the program. Four straight Regional finals and a trip to State, I think Coach Turnquist was on to something.
Newell-Fonda had Olivia Larsen and Emma Stewart in their freshman seasons. Storm Lake’s Skyler Cole and Jaley Butler were eighth graders. St. Mary’s Lizzie Lenhart was a freshman. Sioux Central’s Jake Hanson and Blake Cavanaugh were freshmen.
Every single one of these players over the past four seasons have had a good impact on their teams. Newell-Fonda is inches away from going back to State. Storm Lake had their most wins in years this season. Lenhart helped to mentor the youthful Panthers this season. Hanson and Cavanaugh helped the Rebels get to a substate final last year, and might do the same this season.
It’s been a fun ride watching these freshmen grow to seniors in all sports since I started here. Whether it be summer sports, fall sports, winter or spring, this has been a really fun group to cover.
The new crop of athletes coming up for the area schools look to be just as impressive and should be able to keep the momentum going for a lot of teams in the coming years. Don’t be too shocked if the softball and baseball players of the year are sophomores this season. Though there’s still a bit of season left and anything can happen.
Who knows where I’ll be after the next four softball/baseball seasons. I’m just going to enjoy watching the great talent we have in this area and always hope for the best.