Doster caps Dodger career with storybook ending
Tristin Doster vividly remembers the moment when Madi Bennett won the Florence Nordman Award five years ago.
“I can still see the newspaper article,” Doster said. “When Madi got it, my dad cut out (the story) and put it in my room with a note. Something like, ‘this could be you someday. Keep dreaming and keep working.'”
Doster did both. As a result, the University of Iowa softball recruit was named the 2021 Nordman recipient as Fort Dodge Senior High’s top female senior athlete.
Doster’s high school career had a storybook ending, as the three-time first team all-state catcher helped lead her Dodgers to the program’s first-ever championship a little over a week ago.
Her success didn’t happen early or overnight, though. Doster’s story is one of both patience and perseverance.
“You just have to keep putting in the work,” said Doster, who batted above .500 for the second consecutive season and set FDSH’s career home run record in the process. “And doing the right things, whether it be (as an athlete) or in your daily life. Making good choices. I honestly think we came out on top because we really focused on the ‘little’ stuff that adds up and no one really sees.
“Whether or not (you win a championship), though, there’s a lot you can take away from finding a balance between doing what it takes to succeed and having fun and making memories along the way. If you can do both, it’s a great feeling. And that’s what we were able to accomplish (in 2021).”
Doster closed a historic senior campaign with a .543 batting average, 13 home runs, 53 runs batted in, 15 doubles, five triples and 127 total bases. She also didn’t strike out once in 116 official at-bats, and committed just one error for a .996 fielding percentage.
Doster’s 38 career home runs are an all-time best at FDSH, as are the 196 runs scored, 70 doubles and 15 triples. The Dodgers had a 137-23 record with Doster behind the plate, with four consecutive state tournament berths.
Doster was a bit of a late bloomer, as she didn’t join the local travel-ball circuit until she was 12 years old. She also resisted the urge of going all-in on softball, even though it quickly became her primary sport. This past athletic year, Doster lettered in basketball and track and was even out for swimming for the first time as well.
“I just wanted to stay busy and active,” Doster said. “I think it’s awesome to get as involved as possible. Softball is a very intense sport for me, because that’s my ‘main’ sport. But I enjoyed and took a lot away from those other experiences, even if I wasn’t the best. It was all about competing.”
Doster admitted she was caught off guard when athletic and activities director Kevin Astor first told her about the honor.
“It took me a while to process,” Doster said. “It’s obviously incredible and really cool, not just because of the people who have won it here before me, but all of the other talented athletes in our class.
“That was the first thing that went through my mind: there are so many other deserving (seniors). To know the other coaches and teachers (at FDSH) would consider me for this…I’m very grateful.”
The Dodgers took Class 5A by storm this summer, going 38-4 overall. They were 32-1 in their last 33 games, with 21 shutout victories behind a stellar defense and the battery of fellow first team all-stater Jalen Adams or eighth-grade standout Lucy Porter and Doster.
A 2-0 championship-game victory over Ankeny Centennial atoned for last season’s loss in the state finals to Cedar Rapids Kennedy — a heartbreaking, though somewhat necessary, step in the process.
“I think that (setback) really fueled us,” Doster said. “We’d worked hard, but we needed to do more. We’d put in the time, but had to get even more (focused and efficient) with what we were doing. It put a fire under us to go another extra mile — something maybe we didn’t completely understand (until 2020).
“It’s still crazy and surreal. I’m not sure it’s hit us yet, even though it’s been over a week. To know we’re state champions…I guess I’m just really proud more than anything else. Proud of myself, and proud of everything the team and the program have accomplished. There’s this level of happiness and satisfaction, that we proved our doubters wrong and did it for our community.”
Doster will miss being a Dodger, adding, “I’m sure things will be great and I’m looking forward to the new experience (in Iowa City), but it won’t be the same.”
“Just having that bond with teammates and friends…it’s special. Something we’ll always remember,” said Doster, who plans on majoring in elementary education at Iowa. “We love representing Fort Dodge and wearing that uniform. You show grit and you embrace being an underdog. That’s what it’s all about. We’re such a tight-knit community, and as you get older, you really appreciate that. I’m just really thankful.”