FORT DODGE, Iowa — Class 5A seventh-ranked Pleasant Valley halted the Central Iowa Metropolitan League’s 14-year title stranglehold in the large-school softball class with the program’s first state crown July 21 over top-rated Waukee 8-2 at the Rogers Sports Complex.

After posing for a team picture with the trophy, assistant coach Amy LaBarge huddled the team together. It ended with a scream of “Mission accomplished.”

The team motto this season was “Our mission continues.”

PV was a strike and an out from celebrating a title last summer. Johnston rallied for a 3-2 victory.

With eight starters back, the Spartans were determined to return and finish the task.

“That game last year brought us to where we are today,” pitcher Ellie Spelhaug said. “I think everyone, myself included, felt so much more confident going into this game.

“We were more prepared and ready. It was a complete turnaround.”

PV, which was the preseason No. 1, knocked off three CIML programs in the tournament — No. 2 West Des Moines Valley, No. 6 Urbandale and Waukee.

"To be the first one in PV history and prove ourselves and win a state championship means everything," said Rachel Tebbe.

The Spartans are the first school to win the largest classification from eastern Iowa since North Scott in 2002.

“The girls can move on from what happened last year now,” first-year coach Jose Lara said. “The challenge now is to come back hungry again next year.”

PV was going to savor this moment first.

Hannah Mausser fought back tears while describing what it meant to finish her high school career with a championship. 

“I’ve been on a lot of teams, but this team has the most heart I’ve ever been on,” she said. “It has been such an honor and such a blast to be on this team.”

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Prep sports editor, with emphasis on covering the Mississippi Athletic Conference and Iowa area high schools. I've been in sports journalism for 17 years, the last five at the Quad-City Times.