High hopes for surging Gaels

St. Edmond a mix of seasoned veterans and talented newcomers

Messenger photo by Britt Kudla: St. Edmond softball returning letterwinners are, front row (left to right): Payton Bradley, Josie Harvey, Kaili Henning and Faith Shirbroun. Back: Hadley Oswald, Lauren Gibb, Sohpia Schlienz, Ava Andrew, Myrah Lemon and Ansley Oswald. Not pictured: Michaela Leiting.

A new challenge awaits Bill Shirbroun and the St. Edmond softball team on the diamond this summer.

Fresh off winning an outright North Central Conference title in 2023 and qualifying for the Class 1A state tournament, the Gaels will carry lofty expectations into this summer’s season — both from inside and outside the program.

All but one starter is back from a 23-win campaign, led by all-staters Kaili Henning, Faith Shirbroun and Lauren Gibb.

And if the news of Gibb — a junior who had originally moved last fall — returning to the school in December wasn’t enough, St. Edmond added former Fort Dodge Senior High all-stater and University of Iowa commit Mariah Myers to the roster.

Josie Harvey, Ansley Oswald, Hadley Oswald and Payton Bradley all started at least 31 games last year and return as well.

“I would say last year we met our goals,” Shirbroun said. “We talked about getting to the state tournament, we set a tough schedule to prepare us, and we achieved that goal.

“Now, the standard is qualifying for state and our goals are much, much higher because they have to be. We have the kind of team that can compete at a high level. I know it, the girls know it and they have embraced that.”

Henning, a senior, went 14-4 with 150 strikeouts and a 1.58 earned run average last year in earning second team all-state honors. She also hit .337 with 27 RBI.

Shirbroun put together a standout sophomore season, hitting .374 with a .673 slugging percentage while betling six homers and 12 doubles. She was 36-for-40 in stolen bases, and won five times with 33 strikeouts inside the pitcher’s circle.

Gibb sported a team-leading .442 average with 18 RBI, 50 hits and 37 runs scored. She also stole 23 bases and struck out just once.

A two-year starter for the Dodgers, Myers did not play high school softball last summer. She was part of Fort Dodge’s state championship and runner-up teams in 2021 and ’22, hitting over .450 with 16 homers, 94 RBI, 26 doubles and 113 hits during her time at the 5A level.

“Mariah is one of the best players in the entire state, without question,” Shirbroun said. “But what she brings to the team and, more importantly, the program, is her ability to lead. She is a natural leader who has asked questions from the time I coached her when she was little.

“Her desire to improve, understand the game and be the best she can definitely rubs off on everyone else. Her mental ability will be what allows us to continue to build this program to what we want it to be.”

Ansley Oswald hit .358 with 19 RBI and 19 steals, Bradley batted .324 with 17 RBI, 12 walks, nine steals and won three games pitching.

Hadley Oswald had a team-high 13 walks with 11 RBI. Harvey stole 11 bases, recorded 21 hits and scored 13 runs.

“We had to set the tone (in 2023),” Shirbroun said. “To become successful, you have to go through the ups and downs that we experienced. Now, we’ve had that, been through that, and success has become the expectation.”

Ava Andrew, Sophia Schlienz and Myrah Lemon all made starts last year, with Michaela Leiting serving as a key runner for Shirbroun to place out on the bases.

Andrew scored three runs and had three hits, Schlienz and Lemon combined for nine RBI and 14 hits, and Leiting scored 20 runs.

Newcomers to the varsity roster are eighth-graders Toryn Helle and Jade Rock.

“We haven’t really had depth at many positions recently,” Shirbroun said. “Now we have girls competing for playing time. That only makes the program better.”

The Gaels have won 47 games over the past two seasons while finishing atop the NCC standings both times. The wins are the most over a two-year span for the program since going 60-11 from 2013-15.

Along with competing against all 2A and 3A schools in the conference, St. Edmond will be at the Jack North Tournament, hosted by Waukee Northwest; the Van Meter Tournament; and at the CYO Tournament. They have non-conference dates scheduled with North Polk, Saydel, Newell-Fonda, North Union and Saydel.

Shirbroun will again be assisted by Brian Maxson and Bill Myers.



Seniors — Kaili Henning, Michaela Leiting.

Juniors — Payton Bradley, Lauren Gibb, Josie Harvey, Mariah Myers, Hadley Oswald, Ansley Oswald.

Sophomores — Ava Andrew, Faith Shirbroun.

Freshmen — Myrah Lemon, Sophia Schlienz.

Eighth-graders — Toryn Helle, Jade Rock.


May 20 — Newell-Fonda; 23 — Pocahontas Area; 24 — at Clear Lake; 28 — at Southeast Valley; 30 — South Hardin; 31 — Iowa Falls-Alden.

June 1 — at CYO Tournament; 3 — at Algona; 5 — Hampton-Dumont/CAL; 6 — GTRA; 7 — at Humboldt; 8 — at Van Meter Tournament; 10 — at Clarion-Goldfield/Dows; 11 — North Polk; 12 — Clear Lake; 14-15 — at Jack North Tournament; 17 — Webster City; 19 — at Iowa Falls-Alden; 20 — Saydel; 21 — Algona; 22 — host St. Edmond Tournament; 24 — at Hampton-Dumont/CAL; 26 — Humboldt; 27 — at North Union; 28 — Clarion-Goldfield/Dows.

July 2 — at Webster City; 3 — at Greene County.


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