Creston junior Haylee LaMasters led the Hawkeye 10 Conference in nearly every offensive category this year, and for that, she was named to the Iowa Girls Coaches Association’s all-state second team in Class 4A.
“I think that’s a great honor,” Creston head coach Mike McCabe said. “She’s deserving, too. She’s had a great season, putting together a great career for herself. She was a third-team selection last year and improved this year as a player and a leader. So that’s a nice honor.”
LaMasters ranked second in the Hawkeye 10 Conference in batting average at .519, but led the conference in doubles (20), home runs (six), RBI (48) and slugging percentage (.896), all while striking out only five times in 106 at-bats.
“She’s an awfully good offensive player and is above average on the mound, no doubt about that,” McCabe said. “She certainly was important to us. She led in just about every offensive category in the conference.
“Pretty productive. Her slugging percentage was incredible. I’m glad we’ve got her back in the middle of the order next year, no doubt about it.”
In the pitching circle, LaMasters finished the year with an overall record of 18-8 and went 14-3 in the Hawkeye 10.
Opposing batters hit just .198 against her, as she sported an earned run average of 2.53 in 146 2/3 innings, striking out 114 batters on the year.
She capped off the regular season with a perfect game, striking out all nine batters she faced, against Council Bluffs St. Albert, giving the Panthers the Hawkeye 10 Conference championship.
“She was good in the circle, too,” McCabe said. “I know her, she’ll think she’ll still have to improve. That’s a good quality.”
After dealing with a wrist injury in the offseason, it took LaMasters some time to round into form this year.
But once she did, she was locked in.
“She started off a little slow, and I think that had a lot to do with the wrist and the pain she had early on,” McCabe said. “But when she gets into a groove, she can put up some numbers in a hurry.
“She has just a real uncanny ability to square the ball up. She hits the ball as solid and square as anybody. Has the ability to hit the ball to all parts of the field. End of the year, even outs were balls that were crushed and hit hard.”
McCabe said for LaMasters to show the progression she did this year after dealing with the wrist injury in the offseason is a testament to the type of athlete she is.
“Softball is her thing,” he said. “There was talk about it needing surgery and she just felt that wasn’t an option. She wasn’t going to damage it anymore. May have to deal with a little bit of pain. She did that.
“Showed some real toughness. I think that says a lot about her. Never once did she use it as an excuse. Never once did it even come up, unless I brought it up. I think that says a lot. She’s going to put herself out there and play. Give her a lot of credit.”
With another year left to play, and a strong supporting cast, LaMasters is poised for yet another outstanding softball season as a sophomore.
And that’s something McCabe will be looking forward to.