FORT DODGE — On a sun-drenched afternoon with the breeze whipping their hair, four women stood on a softball field in front of their families and friends along with Iowa softball fans listening to their individual accomplishments. These four had been on these softball diamonds before as high school players.
Last Friday, Emily Grimes-Rottinghaus, Libby Hysell-Carlton, Jennifer Jorgensen and Rachel Gerking became the newest members of the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union Softball Hall of Fame.
Back when they were just Emily Grimes and Libby Hysell, the two Jasper County natives were linked through their prowess as pitchers. Grimes, who is from Newton, was the mentor and Hysell, who is from Colfax, the student.
So it was fitting — according to them both — that they would be standing on Diamond No. 1 at Harlan and Hazel Rogers Sports Complex together on this day as Hall of Famers.
“When I found out my pitching coach was going in too, I just thought this was amazing,” Carlton told the Daily News earlier.
“And it’s even more special to go in with Libby. I wouldn’t want to go into the hall of fame with any one else,” Rottinghaus said.
Rottinghaus became the first Pella Christian High School softball player to be inducted into the Iowa High School Hall of Fame. Carlton is the second Colfax-Mingo High School player to go into the hall of fame. Jessie Hicks, another Tigerhawk pitcher, was inducted in 2001.
The Hall of Fame ceremony was held in-between the 2013 Class 1A championship game and the Class 2A championship contest. The
young players watched and listened to the records Grimes-Rottinghaus, Hysell-Carlton, Jorgensen and Gerking set as high school players. And the list was plentiful for the four.
Those accomplishments came through hard work, a desire to play the game of softball to a high level and a love of the game.
“This is just an honor. It’s really special,” Hysell-Carlton-Carlton said following the ceremony. “They did a really nice job here making us feel important. And I’m excited.”
Family and friends surrounded the Hall of Fame inductees with their plaques. There were photos being taken.
“It’s been a bit overwhelming with all these people here. What an honor and it is really special,” Grimes-Rottinghaus said.
Grimes-Rottinghaus was the Iowa Class 1A Player of the Year in 1990 as a senior. Her career pitching record was 112-15 and she was a two-time First-Team Class 1A All-State selection after leading the Pella Christian Eagles to two state tournament berths.
She played for Newton Senior High School as an eighth-grader and a freshman before transferring to Pella Christian.
Hysell-Carlton, who starred at Colfax-Mingo from 1994 to 1999, earned first team all-state honors as a pitcher her senior season. She compiled a career mark of 88-67. Both Grimes-Rottinghaus and Hysell-Carlton had storied careers as pitchers for Central College in Pella.
Hysell-Carlton was a four-time NCAA tournament participant and capped her career with a national title in 2003, after finishing second in 2001. She was a part of three conference title winners.
Hysell-Carlton’s college career earned run average of 0.70 is a school record at Central, and she’s also first in career shutouts with 33. Her 70-16 career record includes four no-hitters, and she ranks second in Central history in career strikeouts with 582.
A three-time all-conference, all-region and all-America honoree, Hysell-Carlton was named the team and league MVP in 2003. She was also tabbed as the NFCA player of the year, then flew to New York City where she received the Honda Award as the Division III female athlete of the year after going 17-0 in the circle for the Dutch.
At Central Grimes-Rottinghaus was a four-time NCAA Division III tournament participant and helped the Dutch capture national championships in 1991 and 1993, before placing fourth in Division III in 1994. Her 64-14 record gave her the highest career winning percentage (.820) in Central history.
A two-time first-team all-Iowa Conference and All-America honoree, Grime received league (1993) and team (1994) MVP honors, and she served as team co-captain in 1994. She posted a remarkable 0.87 career earned run average with 363 strikeouts and 25 shutouts.
Gerking played outfield for Spirit Lake from 2002 to 2006. She was named to the elite all-state team as a sophomore and junior and was a part of four state tournament teams and was selected to three all-tournament teams. As a sophomore she batted .568 and did not strike out all season in helping the Indians win the Class 3A state title. Her career batting average was .503. Gerking went on to play at Northern Iowa.
Jorgensen is the Iowa record holder for career hits (442), stolen bases (380) and shares the state record for most runs scores (344). Her 320 stolen bases from her freshman to senior seasons is a national high school record.
Jorgensen earned All-State honors starring for Southeast Webster-Grand from 2003 to 2008. She was a two-time Elite All-State selection her junior and senior seasons and Iowa’s Offensive Player of the Year as a senior. She led Southeast Webster-Grand to three state tournament appearances. Jorgensen’s career numbers at the state tournament are impressive. She was 21-for-33 at the plate with 13 runs scored and swiped 15 bases in 15 attempts. In 2007, Jorgensen hit .727 and was captain of the 2007 1A All-Tournament team.