Daddy-daughter dance

East Marshall softball coach, pitcher share fiery spirit, love of the game

T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE - East Marshall head softball coach Jary Hoskey, right, and his daughter and starting pitcher Kodie Hoskey share an emotional embrace following the Mustangs’ 14-1, five-inning win over Jesup in the Class 2A Region 1 finals on July 15 in Jesup. The win clinched the program’s first state tournament appearance in five years.

LE GRAND — East Marshall head softball coach Jary Hoskey was finally able to approach his starting pitcher without getting shooed away.

His daughter — Mustang junior Kodie Hoskey — was ready to share the emotion of the moment she and her father had worked so hard to achieve together.

Kodie, the youngest of Hoskey’s three daughters and the only pitcher of the bunch, had just delivered a three-hitter to help the fifth-ranked East Marshall softball team knock off No. 3 Jesup in their Class 2A Region 1 championship game, 14-1 in five innings.

As Jary gave away hugs and high-fives like they were candy in a small-town parade, his daughter had her hands on her knees in relief and disbelief of the team’s first state tournament berth in five years.

When they finally got together, it was a special moment between daddy and daughter that was still bringing tears to Jary’s eyes as he recounted the embrace days later, prior to the team’s awards banquet.

T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE - The East Marshall softball team poses for photographs with its state softball qualifier banner and admission ticket after beating Jesup in the Clss 2A regional finals July 15 in Jesup. The Mustangs make their return to Fort Dodge with today’s 5 p.m. game against Ogden.

“I just said ‘you did it, honey,'” the 12th-year head coach said through fresh tears. “It’s still emotional when you think about it, but having a kid who’s that competitive and then when she works so hard to get something she’s decided she wants and finally gets it, it’s a good thing.

“She cried and cried and cried just from emotion and I’m sure that the ‘ol dad cried because we got there. It is different when it’s your own daughter out there.”

It wasn’t an entirely new sensation for Jary, who was at the helm of East Marshall’s three-straight state tournament appearances from 2012-2014 when his middle daughter, Kylee, was a starting first baseman. Kaci, a 2010 EMHS graduate and the oldest of three Hoskey girls, reached the regional semifinals in her senior season but never made it to state.

So Jary experienced three years in a row with a child on the diamond with which to celebrate the Mustangs’ accomplishment of advancing to state, but there’s a stark contrast between the relationships of daddy-daughter and coach-pitcher, and the resultant gap can bubble over from time to time.

“We’re like oil and water,” Kodie grinned.

T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE

“It’s not that bad!” Jary scoffed.

“We hide it sometimes, but yeah, we suck it up,” Kodie said of their occasionally fiery back-and-forth on the field. “When he tells me what to do, obviously I know as a pitcher what to do so I get angry at that stuff.”

“I knowwwwwww,” junior shorstop Reagan McIlrath interjected, imitating Kodie’s retort. “Dad, tsch!”

“I’ve been close with them since like third grade so I can joke around with them too,” McIlrath added, “so it’s always fun to watch them go at each other.”

While the intensity of their clashes has climbed with each passing season, so have the wins. Kodie split pitching duties as an eighth-grader, going 8-7 in the circle while the Mustangs struggled to a 16-15 record. She emerged as the team’s primary pitcher as a freshman, when she went 12-9 and East Marshall was 17-18. But the Mustangs made the regional finals that year, when Kodie endured a shoulder injury that prevented her from pitching against Mount Vernon in the game to get to state and eventually led to surgery.

As a fully-healthy sophomore, Kodie posted a 17-6 mark as East Marshall returned to the regional finals, falling to the eventual state champions from Louisa-Muscatine to cap a 26-8 campaign.

Now in the prime of her prep career, Kodie is 21-3 in the circle and the Mustangs (31-4) are headed back to state for the first time since 2014. They meet Ogden (25-7) at 5 p.m. today at the Rogers Sports Complex in Fort Dodge.

“We bump heads once in a while, let me tell you, but Kodie is very much a competitor and she doesn’t show any emotion on the mound,” Jary said. “She does when she’s with her dad — not with her coach, but with her dad.

“We’re pretty tight. We talk about softball once in a while (at home) and what we need to do to get better, but it’s OK. When we’re on the field I’m the coach and she’s the pitcher, and when we’re home it’s daddy-daughter.”

Well, most of the time.

“I hear it when I go home, too,” Kodie said. “Sometimes I will just go up to my room and not talk to him if I have a bad night, but it’s fine.”

The rest of the Mustangs steer clear of the Hoskeys’ sporadic exchanges, instead watching their favorite daytime drama unfold from a safe distance.

“It can get pretty sassy,” laughed senior catcher Madison Farrington. “She definitely still gets yelled at if she gets a little too comfortable around him. For the most part they’re fine, they just talk like a coach to a player, but sometimes there will be one little comment and they’ll be put back in check.”

Jary makes it sound like he’s the victim.

“I’ve gone out there to check on her and I think one of her statements was ‘I’m fine!’ Not ‘I’m fine, coach,’ but ‘I’m fine!'”

Kodie acknowleges, however, that her head coach happens to know a lot about the art of pitching and she has improved every year she’s returned to the circle in spite of injury, surgery, adversity or family quarrel.

By the numbers, Kodie’s earned run average dropped from 2.78 as an eighth-grader to 2.06 as a freshman, and her 1.89 ERA as a sophomore holds a slight edge over her current 1.97 as the Mustangs head to state for today’s 2A quarterfinal game against No. 14 Ogden.

Kodie has pitched more innings this year than any of her previous three seasons, yet has cut her total walks in half. Her coach loathes free bases.

“He’s coached me throughout my whole high school career and we’ve worked at it a lot,” said Kodie. “When I watched the high schoolers play when I was a kid, I wanted to be just like [Mariah Fritz] and have the accomplishments she did, so I just worked and hopefully now we’ll get them.”

Fritz pitched more than half of the Mustangs’ innings in their nine games at state from 2012-2014, when East Marshall went a combined 3-6 and finished fifth, eighth and fourth in respective years in the 3A tournament. When the Mustangs placed second in 1994 and third in 1995, they competed in the 1A bracket. This will be East Marshall’s first designation as a 2A team at state, and the fifth-ranked Mustangs are seeded second.

“It’s a great reward for our seniors, number one, and number two, we’ve got a good softball team,” Jary said. “We started out 3-3 but now we’re 31-4 so we’re doing things right, getting decent pitching and decent hitting and some defense, so it means a lot to the kids.”

The Mustangs have won 18-straight dating back to their last loss, a 7-6 thriller at 1A No. 5 BCLUW. East Marshall, however, is the lone survivor from the North Iowa Cedar League’s West Division after conference champion BCLUW was beaten in the 1A regional semifinals and No. 6 AGWSR was ousted in the 1A regional finals.

East Marshall was finally able to wash out the bad taste left in its mouth from back-to-back losses in the regional finals — something that a number of Mustangs utilized as a key motivator for this season’s culminating run to Fort Dodge.

“It was such a relief because we didn’t want a threepeat of not going (to state) so we finally get something to show for all our hard work, it’s awesome,” said senior first baseman Juliana Arifi. “I sat there (at state) my eighth-grade year and I was like ‘wow, this would be so cool,’ and now actually getting to live it and have another kid sit in the stands and be like, ‘that’s what I want to do,’ that’s just an awesome feeling.”

Not only are the Mustangs following the example set by former East Marshall alumnae, they’re breaking some of their records. Farrington has knocked Katie Roseland from the top of the single-season chart in RBIs, racking up 64 runs batted in to surpass Roseland’s 2012 mark of 56. Roseland’s single-season (14) and career (32) home run records are within Farrington’s reach, too.

The 1994 team’s reecord of 37 wins is out of reach, but Shawna Burns’ single-season pitching wins mark of 32 is within striking distance for Kodie, if she and her dad can just stop squabbling and get down to business.

“It’s funny, a lot of times they bicker but they obviously love each other,” said senior center fielder Melinda Puumala. “After the regional final, right after we all got the banner, [Jary] started crying and went up and hugged Kodie and I almost started crying just because coach was crying.”

Imagine if the Mustangs win the school’s first state softball championship. It isn’t even that far-fetched of an idea. It’s only three wins away, after all.

“We’ll play our game, I know we will play our game,” said McIlrath. “We just have to go with confidence and have fun and play Mustang softball like we have been.”

Rasmussons have state tournament savvy

The Hoskeys aren’t the only ones with state tournament or family ties for the Mustangs.

East Marshall senior second baseman Maria Rasmusson has played there before, but not in purple and gold. Rather the columbia blue and gold of Lynnville-Sully.

Rasmusson was the starting designated hitter for the Hawks as an eighth-grader in 2015, when her sister Madison was one of the team’s primary pitchers. Lynnville-Sully went to state in four of Madison’s five years (2011, 2013, 2014, 2015).

By the time the 2015-16 school year began, Maria was a Mustang.

And now, too, is Madison.

Madison, who played softball at Simpson College, is an assistant coach for the Mustangs.

“My sister went to state four out of her five years so I’ve been to Fort Dodge quite a bit, and my eighth-grade year I actually started,” said Maria. “It was really intimidating as an eighth-grader starting against seniors, but the atmosphere was really cool to be around.”

Madison played for a year at DMACC before transferring to Simpson in Indianola, where she played for two seasons.

Lynnville-Sully, which East Marshall defeated 13-1 in the the Mustangs’ regular-season finale, is back at state, too. The Hawks (26-8) have the No. 5 seed in the 1A bracket and open against No. 4 Newell-Fonda (37-5) in today’s 11:30 a.m. game.

Iowa Girls High School State Softball Tournament

At Rogers Sports Complex, Fort Dodge

Quarterfinal Pairings

Monday, July 22

CLASS 1A

No. 1 Collins-Maxwell (25-1) vs. No. 8 Le Mars Gehlen Catholic, 11 a.m.

No. 4 Newell-Fonda (37-5) vs. No. 5 Lynnville-Sully (26-8), 11:30 a.m.

No. 2 Lisbon (32-6) vs. No. 7 Wayne Community (23-8), 1 p.m.

No. 3 Clarksville (31-1) vs. No. 6 Bishop Garrigan (29-6), 1:30 p.m.

CLASS 2A

No. 1 North Linn (39-4) vs. No. 8 Wapello (17-12), 3 p.m.

No. 4 Mount Ayr (25-2) vs. No. 5 Dyersville Beckman (29-13), 3:30 p.m.

No. 2 East Marshall (31-4) vs. No. 7 Ogden (25-7), 5 p.m.

No. 3 Central Springs (28-7) vs. No. 6 Alta-Aurelia (20-9), 5:30 p.m.

CLASS 3A

No. 1 Davenport Assumption (38-2) vs. No. 8 Algona (17-10), 7 p.m.

No. 4 Albia (27-4) vs. No. 5 Waterloo Columbus (35-4), 7:30 p.m.

Tuesday, July 23

No. 2 Louisa-Muscatine (33-4) vs. No. 7 Mount Vernon (27-11), 11 a.m.

No. 3 West Liberty (28-5) vs. No. 6 Treynor (30-3), 11:30 a.m.

CLASS 4A

No. 1 Carlisle (35-3) vs. No. 8 Denison-Schleswig (26-13), 1 p.m.

No. 4 Independence (30-11) vs. No. 5 West Delaware (30-10), 1:30 p.m.

No. 2 North Scott (26-14) vs. No. 7 Oskaloosa (25-14), 3 p.m.

No. 3 Charles City (35-3) vs. No. 6 Dallas Center-Grimes (25-14), 3:30 p.m.

CLASS 5A

No. 1 Waukee (38-3) vs. No. 8 Ottumwaw (33-7), 5 p.m.

No. 4 Indianola (33-4) vs. No. 5 Johnston (34-8), 5:30 p.m.

No. 2 Fort Dodge (34-6) vs. No. 7 West Des Moines Valley (29-10), 7 p.m.

No. 3 Cedar Rapids Kennedy (37-2) vs. No. 6 Iowa City High, (34-7)