Dodgers close memorable season in 4th place

Messenger photo by Britt Kudla: The Fort Dodge softball squad huddles around their fourth-place trophy on Thursday evening at Rogers Park. For more photos, please visit CU.messengernews.net

The 2023 campaign was initially lined up to be a rebuilding season for the Fort Dodge softball team.

The third-ranked Dodgers (32-11) didn’t listen to any of the outside noise and instead put together a year that could serve as the groundwork to keep the tradition of elite-level softball rolling right along.

With only two seniors on the roster, Fort Dodge rarely missed a beat. The Dodgers reached the state semifinal round for the fourth straight season in the process.

The ending wasn’t what the Dodgers worked for, as they dropped a 5-0 decision to fourth-seeded Norwalk in the Class 4A third place game on Thursday at Rogers Park.

“It was a weird game,” said FDSH head coach Andi Adams. “I think the game against Winterset took a lot out of us — more than we wanted to admit. But…no excuses. We hit the ball right at them, and they made plays.

“This doesn’t diminish anything we accomplished. These girls played their hearts out for each other.”

Seniors Maggie Elsbecker and Lydia Lara closed their careers this week, while eighth-graders Hope Alstott and Ellie Doster were just beginning theirs on the big stage.

Together, the team built something special in 2023.

“To me, this season has been an amazing experience and opportunity to really step up as a leader,” Elsbecker said. “It taught us that tomorrow is a new day, whether you win or lose. You’re always going to have to get right back up and work at it.”

More than 24 hours after going 10 innings with champion Winterset, the Dodgers took the field looking to end their season with a victory. Fort Dodge managed just three hits, though, with two coming from all-tournament selections Alstott and Doster. Junior Macy Brown had the other hit.

The two eighth-graders were a combined 9-for-21 in the tourney. Alstott was 3-for-10 with two RBI. Doster was 6-for-11 with a double, triple and an RBI.

Sophomore Lucy Porter (20-10) struck out six batters and walked only one against Norwalk.

“Lucy is phenomenal,” Adams said. “She will grow from this and be even more ready.

“She really wants to prove herself and win a state championship.”

The Warriors put together two scoring frames, plating two in the fourth on a two-run single from Zadie Wadle. Maddie Gullion added a three-run blast in the third for the only runs of the contest.

Elsbecker and Lara, the only two players who returned to their position from last year’s state runner-up lineup, climbed the ladder from reserve players in the dugout to starting outfielders.

“Going from being just another player in the dugout my eighth grade year to the starting centerfielder my junior and senior year has been a great experience,” Elsbecker said. “I’ve learned that when you put in hard work, it will pay off. If you have a good mindset and attitude, good things will come.

“My advice to the younger players is that nothing is ever handed to you, and you have to work for everything you wish to achieve. And Dodger softball taught me to never take anything for granted, because it’s here and gone in the blink of an eye.”

Lara, who came up through the ranks with Elsbecker, ended her career in style.

“Like any one of my teammates would say, this season has meant everything to me — and really, so much more,” Lara said. “I am so thankful for the memories and lessons that Coach Adams and my sisters (teammates) have taught me.

“Before being in the starting lineup, I looked up to all of the girls ahead of me. So when I broke into the lineup, it was so special. This team, my coaches, and all five years have been some of the best ever. I will always leave a piece of my heart with those girls and coaches.”

Adams found out a lot about the character of her leaders.

“Maggie and Lydia are two of the best seniors I’ve ever had,” Adams said. “I wish I could have them forever. They put in a ton of work and came so far.

“They put this team on their shoulders and learned life skills as leaders. They are just great human beings.”


Norwalk 000 230 0 — 5 7 0

Fort Dodge 000 000 0 — 3 1

WP–Zadie Wadle (6 ? IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 5 SO); LP–Lucy Porter (7 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 6 SO); LOB–Norwalk 5, Fort Dodge 3; 2B–N: Zadie Wadle, Maddie Guillion; HR–N: Maddie Guillion; SACB–N: Jaylnn Brandt; SB–N: Dani Peters; FD: Macy Brown; RBI–N: Guillion (3), Wadle (2).


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $2.99/week.

Subscribe Today