Fort Dodge, Iowa – Katie Hearn never thought this would be possible.
Sure, the current group of Louisa-Muscatine softball seniors played traveling softball together starting in elementary school. The talent was evident, and a turnaround was expected once they got to high school.
But, did Hearn ever think the Louisa-Muscatine softball program would make it to two straight state titles and win one of them?
“It’s unbelievable,” Hearn said. “We started something big, and I think we (the team) can be back. We put our name on the map, and that was our goal, to make ourselves known and earn respect.
“Now people know who L-M is and we have a program. We started a program, not just a team.”
No. 2 Louisa-Muscatine may have come up short against No. 1 Davenport Assumption Friday in a 7-4 loss in the Class 3A state title game. But the senior class of Hearn, Katie Koppe, Maddie Mashek and Mallory Hohenadel set up the Louisa-Muscatine program for sustained success.
“They set the table for us,” freshman Brynn Jeambey said. “They’ve done so much for us, and we can try to pay them back by coming back to state next year. Everybody is going to remember the impact they had on this program.”
Before these four seniors arrived as eighth-graders, the only tradition Louisa-Muscatine softball had was losing games. From 2010-15, the Falcons compiled a 23-119 record.
“For so many years L-M softball was awful, and they weren’t happy with that,” Butler said.
Slowly but surely, the culture began to change for the Falcon softball program. As eighth-graders, all five seniors contributed to a 16-15 record. It only got better from there. The Falcons won more than 20 games twice and more than 30 games twice. They won the state title in 2018 over Iowa City Regina and claimed a runner-up finish Friday.
Overall, the senior class compiled a 142-44 record in their five seasons.
“They mean everything to this program,” Butler said of his seniors. “They’re the ones who paved the way for what’s to come. They set the standard.”
Louisa-Muscatine seems set up for future success, too. The Falcons will return five starters next season and have underclassmen on the roster expected to step in and contribute. Butler says there are ‘Tons of kids’ playing traveling softball in Louisa County.
None of that would have been possible without Koppe, Hohenadel, Hearn and Mashek, who set a new standard for a program that has become a juggernaut.
“We changed it,” Hohenadel said through tears. “We started it, and it’s going to keep going. This team is going to be great for a while.”