Building a lasting bond on and off the field comes easily when a group has the same goals in mind.
For Fort Dodge’s Daphne Alstott, the years of dedication on the softball diamond are filled with moments — and people — she’ll always cherish.
In her final summer, the Dodgers put together a season that won’t soon be forgotten. It was a special way to cap a record-breaking career for Alstott, the 2019 Florence Nordman Award winner as FDSH’s top female senior athlete.
“This was the most memorable season I’ve had as a Dodger,” Alstott said. “We didn’t accomplish what we wanted (Alstott said after the Class 5A state consolation game), but we ended with a bang and I couldn’t imagine it being any other way.
“I’m going to miss those girls so much. This team was special because of our love for each other. I became best friends with every single one of them, which is crazy considering I am three, four or even five years older than most of them.”
Alstott, a DMACC softball recruit, was grateful to receive the honor, decided by the Fort Dodge teachers and coaches.
“I was overwhelmed with joy after receiving this award,'” Alstott said. “All of the work I put in paid off, and I am so thankful to be given this honor.”
The award culminates a successful career that started as an eighth-grader. After her freshman season, Alstott earned third team all-state recognition. She was then selected to the second team as a junior, with 2019’s list still to be determined.
“She is beyond what anybody would want as a player,” said Dodger softball coach Andi Adams. “She’s easy-going, and if you ask her to do something, she does it. Daphne is a quiet leader that knew what she needed to do and led by example.
“Gut, grit and heart. Those are the words that come to mind when I think of Daphne — plain and simple. She would do anything for anyone in the community, because she knows those are the people that helped make her.”
On her path to all-state status, Alstott was quick to point out the help and support she received along the way.
“I want to thank my parents for traveling and taking me to all of my games growing up,'” Alstott said. “They made me the athlete and person I am today. I want to thank my grandparents for being my number one supporters, and my sister (FDSH assistant coach Kenzie Alstott) for being the best coach and mentor I could have asked for.
“No other coach (Adams) could do what she has done to help prepare me for life and the future. She truly cares about her players. It’s amazing to have had a coach like that throughout my high school career.”
Alstott’s career finished right where it started — at the state tournament. She was part of the Dodgers’ four trips in the past five seasons, and had been on the field for 143 Dodger wins the past five years.
Alstott was 8-for-22 on the big stage at Rogers Park throughout her career, with four RBI and five stolen bases. She was named to the all-tournament in 2018.
As sparkling as her career started, her sophomore season hit a rough patch after getting cleated in the hand and receiving stitches. The injury was a hindrance all season long.
But Adams said that was a defining moment that showed Alstott’s true character, and only pushed her to become better.
“That injury was debilitating,” Adams said. “It was hard on her mentally and physically, but she bounced back and had an all-state junior season.”
Alstott was thinking team first and made the selfless move from the infield to the outfield this past spring to give FDSH a lineup they thought best suited their competition.
“You don’t become an all-state player by the position you play,” Adams said. “She struggled at first and she admits it, but she worked hard and got better and better. It’s not an easy thing to do, going from hot shots in the infield to having to think a base ahead in the outfield.
“As soon as we talked about it and what we wanted to and needed to do, she immediately said OK … and I thanked her for taking on the challenge.”
For the past two seasons, Alstott got to spend time with Kenzie — a former all-stater herself — in the dugout. Kenzie got to see first hand what her sister was able to do, especially on the basepaths. Kenzie, a 2011 graduate, and Lexi Astor, a 2014 graduate, held the old stolen base record at FDSH with 105.
Daphne set the Dodger mark with 132 on 149 attempts. She was successful 88 percent of the time she tried to swipe an extra bag.
“It was an amazing experience to be able to coach my sister (for two years),'” Kenzie said. “Watching her grow as both an athlete and a person was such a surreal experience for me. I am beyond proud of what she was able to accomplish during her softball career at FDSH.
“Beating the stolen base record was by far a proud moment. Seeing her make the transition to the outfield with hardwork, determination, guidance and athleticism … it was awesome to watch her grow as an athlete through that.”
Daphne finished her career with 165 runs, 228 hits and 108 RBI. This season she had 41 runs scored, 55 hits, 34 RBI and 32 stolen bases.
This year’s Dodger group won 35 games and entered the state tournament ranked second in the state. Last year, FDSH was 36-8.
All the numbers will be kept in the scrapbook and looked at from time to time, but being a Dodger first and foremost is what Alstott leaves as her legacy.
“Being a Dodger is about working hard and having nothing handed to you,'” Alstott said. “It means coming together and playing for the people you love.
“Being a good athlete doesn’t mean you are perfect. It means that you never give up no matter how hard something is our how many times you mess up. It means not only being a talented athlete, but being a great person as well.”