By Margaret Stadtwald
Louisa-Muscatine High School (L&M) opened in 1963, and in those fifty-five years, none of their softball teams ever went to the state tournament. On July 19th, their softball team ended their drought by not only advancing to the state tournament, but winning it, all in the championship game against Iowa City Regina.
Activities director Tom Wilson described the experience as, “eye-opening, as well as enjoyable and competitive.” The competition came first from Wilton in the quarter finals on Monday, July 16th, and then from Central Springs in the semifinals on Wednesday, July 18th. Both games tested L&M and left little room for error, but with scores of 3-2 against Wilton, and 2-1 against Central Springs, the girls got the job done and made it to the state tournament championship.
Regina, their opponents in the championship game, presented a steep challenge. The team had a lot of experience in state tournaments making appearances in the last three state championship games and winning it in 2015 and 2017. Additionally, Wilson noted that Regina comes from a good conference and played several acclaimed 4A schools over the course of their season. However, L&M made good on their practice and training over the course of their season, and managed to pull ahead of Regina with a pair of runs in the seventh inning which allowed them to take and maintain the lead for the rest of the game, resulting in a 4-3 victory.
While the softball tournament provided the main focus for the week, the team had plenty of time in Fort Dodge to explore the city and bond as a team. Wilson feels traveling for the tournament meant a lot for the girls because it gave them the opportunity to see somewhere, “more than just the little area of Muscatine,” they live in. Additionally, the trip gave them time to participate in team activities such as bowling, swimming, go-karting, and shopping. Wilson said he felt he knew his players better because of all the time he spent with the team both on and off the field.
Finally, the L&M softball journey through the state tournament and victory in the championship game provided a huge boost for the L&M high school community. “The bowling team has been state champions for two years. This is another event for us to be state champs and it’s good for the school and the community. It puts us on the map,” explained Wilson. Throughout the tournament, current and former students, teachers, and even superintendents threw their support behind the team whether through coming out to support the team at their games or providing well wishes via social media. Additionally, as first-time visitors to the tournament, L&M received a lot of television coverage, broadcasting their story around Iowa and spreading the good news about their team and school. In a memorable end to a historic season, the L&M softball team represented all the best qualities of their school and marked themselves as champions, and as a team to watch in future seasons.