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SBLive Iowa high school softball preseason Top 25 rankings

Defending 5A state champion Fort Dodge sits atop the first list.

By John Bohnenkamp 

Iowa’s softball season opens Monday, with a strong group of talented teams, especially among the teams that won last season’s championships.

A look at the preseason Top 25:

1. Fort Dodge 

The Class 5A state champions should be back in the tournament in their hometown in July. Jalen Adams (.422, 25-1, 219 strikeouts) is one of the state’s top pitchers. Tory Bennett (.455) and Mariah Myers (.431, 57 RBI) also are back.

2. Western Dubuque

The Bobcats have six starters back from their Class 4A state championship team, including Meredith Hoerner (16-2, 140 strikeouts), Maddie Harris (.414) and Audrey Biermann (.353).

3. Davenport Assumption

The Class 3A state champion last season brings back pitcher Bella Nigey (25-2, 222 strikeouts), Sydney Roe (.430) and Leah Maro (15-1, 94 strikeouts).

4. Mount Vernon

The Mustangs were second in Class 3A last season and bring back nine starters from that team. Jenna Sprague (.378, 27-3), Maia Bentley (.504) and Nadia Telecky (.469) were first-team all-state picks last season.

5. Ankeny Centennial

The Jaguars were second in Class 5A last season. Sydney Morris (.414) and Mackenzie James (.339) are among the returnees.

6. North Linn

The Class 2A state champions return three all-staters — Skyler Benesh (.473, 14 HR), Ellie Flannagan (24-2, 177 strikeouts) and Jill Smith (.440, 10 HR). Jenna Lemley (.444, 10 HR) also returns among the eight starters back.

7. Waukee

Reagan Bartholomew (.500) and Maddie Oetzmann (18-6, 166 strikeouts) are back from a team that finished third in Class 5A last season.

8. Newell-Fonda

The Class 1A state champion has Kierra Jungers (29-3, 264 strikeouts) back, along with Mary Walker (.405) and Anna Bellcock (.396).

9. Lisbon

The Lions were Class 1A runner-up last season. Peyton Robinson (.425) and Ryleigh Allgood (.336, 29-5) were first-team all-state picks last season.

10. Johnston

Ava Smithson (.455, 12 HR), Kira Draeger (19-3) and Ella Smithson (.467) are back from a 33-win team last season.

11. Winterset

The Huskies were third in Class 4A last season. Thea Banning (34-4, 234 strikeouts) Jena Young (.423, 11 HR), and Bridget Stover (.372) return.

12. Clear Creek-Amana

Six starters return from a 30-win team that reached the Class 3A state tournament, including Bailey Olerich (.467) and Ashley Webb (19-7, 199 strikeouts).

13. Southeast Warren

Alivia Ruble (20-3, 156 strikeouts) was a second-team all-state pick for the Warhawks, who finished third in Class 1A last season. Josie Hartman (.472, 8 HR), and Natalie Geisler (.427) also are back.

14. Williamsburg

Peyton Driscoll (18-5, 206 strikeouts) and Shannon Finn (.431) are back from a team that finished third in Class 3A last season.

15. Earlham

Grace Porter (.430), Katie Janssen (.398) and Alexis Voss (.381) are back from the team that finished second in Class 2A.

16. Central Springs

The Panthers finished third in Class 2A last season. All-state selections Kaylea Fessler (.512), Cooper Klaahsen (.310, 23-3), Madisyn Kelley (.373, 11 HR) and Abby Pate (.391) are back, as is Lizzy Hamand (.402).

17. North Union

Class 2A state qualifier last season has four all-state selections returning, led by Sam Nielsen (.575, 64 runs).

18. Wilton

Payton Ganzer (.545) and Peyton Souhrada (.500) are back from a team that finished fourth in Class 2A last season.

19. Carlisle

Isabelle Noring (.423) and Lauryn McGriff (.406) return from a team that finished fifth in Class 4A.

20. Sigourney

A young team that is only going to get better. The Savages were fifth in Class 1A last season behind pitcher Carly Goodwin (.495, 22-4, 0.67 ERA, 277 strikeouts). Josephine Moore (.392) and Ava Fisch (.355) are freshmen.

21. Twin Cedars

First-team all-staters Grace Bailey (.488, 20-8, 156 strikeouts) and Rylee Dunkin (.415) are back from a 28-win team last season.

22. Solon

Another young team that will get better after qualifying for the Class 3A state tournament last season. Kendall Jensen (15-8) is only a sophomore. Hilary Wilson (.548) Camryn Keith (.515) and Carly Ellison (.416) are among the returning starters.

23. Wayne

Sterling Berndt (.505, 20-5, 322 strikeouts) and Emily Jones (.505) are back for the Falcons, who finished fourth in Class 1A last season.

24. Oskaloosa

The Indians were Class 4A state qualifiers last season. Faith DeRonde (.349, 15-8) and Maleah Walker (.410) were all-state picks last season.

25. Fairfield

The Trojans made it to the Class 4A state tournament last season. Hannah Simpson (.458) and Coty Engle (.518, 17-6, 170 strikeouts) are back.