Life's not always as easy or simple as it appears when a high school athlete plays under the watchful tutelage of one's parent and vice versa.
Just ask Warrior softball mentor Art Ingalls and recent North Union graduate Allie Ingalls. He's now coached all four of his highly-skilled daughters during his tenure at the seemingly annually-consolidated varsity helms of the North Kossuth Cougars, the North Sentral Kossuth Eagles, North Sentral Kossuth/Armstrong-Ringsted and North Union.
"At times, it's been difficult trying to separate being their coach and being their dad," a smiling Art Ingalls said in reference to daughters Autumn, Abby, Allie and Anna. "Some people think, as a coach, you favor your own kids, but I think I've always been a little harder on them."
ALL-AREA CAPTAIN — North Union ace Allie Ingalls prepares to deliver a pitch during regular-season softball action in Swea City. Ingalls has been selected as the 2013 Sentinel All-Area softball player of the year. North Union third baseman Dena Looft (left) also earned an All-Area spot. (Photo by Charlie Sorrells)
Art Ingalls' persistence, tempered with playful jokes and wry smiles, however, has paid dividends for his talented offspring.
In fact, senior ace right-hander Allie Ingalls has achieved a prep rarity in being chosen as the Sentinel's All-Area softball player of the year for a third consecutive season.
The hard-throwing Ingalls will likely earn a second straight selection to the Iowa Class 2A all-state elite team after garnering that lofty status in Class 1A during both her freshman and sophomore campaigns.
"I know I sound biased, but I honestly believe that Allie's in the top five athletes that I've ever coached," said Art Ingalls.
And the incredible statistical numbers that Allie Ingalls has generated during her five-year varsity prep softball career give legitimacy to the Warrior mentor's words.
The four-time Iowa all-Northwest District choice nearly helped steer her father's program to its third state tournament appearance during the last four summer seasons.
Allie Ingalls played a key role in NSK's sixth-place state showing in 2010 before her strong arm and potent bat guided NSK/AR to a runner-up finish in the 2011 Class 1A state tournament and landed her a spot on the all-state tournament team.
Unfortunately for both Ingalls, North Union lost in the regional semifinals a year ago before Ridge View edged the No. 1-ranked Warriors in a heart-wrenching, 2-1 edge-of-the-bleachers regional finale last week.
Not only did she pace the team's stellar 33-3 record in 2013, the four-time all-Corn Belt Conference selection managed to top North Union's charts in nearly every offensive category during her senior campaign, in addition to compiling the area's best pitching marks.
The Warriors' leadoff hitter produced a staggering .469 clip from the batter's box on the strength of a team-best 60 hits, including 18 doubles, five triples and five home runs - with only her round-tripper total being No. 2 on the green-and-white stat sheets.
The diminutive but powerful Ingalls generated a team-leading 50 RBIs and crossed the plate 52 times, in addition to producing No. 1 clips in slugging (.805) and on-base percentages (.531). Allie Ingalls also swiped a team-best 12 bases, drew 17 walks and struck out only four times in 128 at-bats to cap her outstanding offensive prep career.
The hard-working right-hander also compiled a 22-2 record inside the chalked circle en route to a 1.91 ERA this summer. Ingalls recorded 160 strikeouts and 25 walks in 139 innings of work, holding opponents to a meager .206 batting average.
Now, Ingalls will take her diamond skills to the next level, playing softball for Iowa Central Community College in Fort Dodge, Iowa, next season.
For all of her contributions throughout her prep career and for this season, Allie Ingalls has been named as the 2013 Sentinel All-Area softball player of the year.
Here's an inside look at the other members of the 2013 Sentinel All-Area softball lineup.
Autumn Boland (North Union) - Rookie of the year.
The all-Corn Belt Conference choice literally made an instant impact from the batter's box during her first full season as a starter this summer.
The sophomore outfielder/shortstop smacked the softball at a team second-best rate of .453 behind the Warriors' No. 2 hit total of 58, including 14 doubles, one triple and three home runs.
The Class 2A, all-Northwest District candidate produced the Warriors' second-best RBI mark with 45, in addition to scoring 35 runs, to complement a .648 slugging clip and a .478 on-base percentage.
Autumn Boland played a key role in North Union compiling a 33-3 overall record, reaching the Region 2 championship game and capturing yet another Corn Belt Conference crown.
Cheyanne Boland (North Union) - The commander-in-chief.
The senior signal-caller struck fear in the hearts of opposing pitchers with her fence-finding bat and temporarily paralyzed opposing runners with her strong and accurate throwing arm.
The two-time All-Area selection cranked deliveries at a .351 pace - fueled by 40 hits, including 13 doubles, one triple and four round-trippers this summer.
The two-time all-district choice drew 18 walks, scored 19 times and drove in 38 runs to go with a .588 slugging mark and a .452 on-base percentage to round out her outstanding prep softball career.
Cheyanne Boland proved a guiding force behind NSK/AR's second-place showing at the 2011 Class 1A state tournament, in addition to North Union's highly-successful campaigns in the Corn Belt Conference and the Class 2A playoffs in both 2012 and 2013.
The perennial all-conference choice will hit the diamond for Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa, next season.
Kristen Campe (Fairmont) - The slugging shortstop.
The all-Section 3AA choice generated the Cardinals' No. 1 slugging percentage at .746 on the strength of team-leading marks of 10 doubles, three triples and one home run this spring.
The three-time All-Area choice utilized 31 hits and a .437 batting average to produce a team-best 24 RBIs to complement the Cardinals' top on-base clip (.529) and 16 runs scored.
The all-South Central Conference selection also displayed improved fielding range and a strong throwing arm during her junior campaign on the prep diamond.
Campe played an integral role behind the 2013 Cardinals establishing the program's single-season record for victories (11) and Fairmont's first-ever third-place showing in the sectional tournament.
Shawna Dressen (Martin County West) - The accurate arm.
The all-Valley Conference catcher gunned down an incredible 9 of 17 runners - 52.9 percent - trying to steal bases during her varsity debut season.
The junior signal-caller also wielded a potent bat, smacking a team-leading three home runs to produce the Mavericks' top RBI total (21) on the spring campaign.
Dressen posted a .434 batting average behind 23 hits, including two doubles and two triples to go with her long-ball mark. She also scored 15 runs and generated a .567 on-base percentage to round out a stellar season.
Micaela Gochanour (Fairmont) - The most improved player.
The sophomore infielder evolved into an all-Section 3AA choice and an all-South Central Conference selection during her second varsity season.
The free-swinging Gochanour topped the Cardinals with a .468 batting average on the strength of a team-best 36 hits, including nine doubles, one triple and a co-leading two home runs in 2013.
The hard-working third baseman, who also led Fairmont with 28 runs scored, collected 14 RBIs to complement a .688 slugging clip and a .512 on-base pace.
Gochanour proved a key force behind the Cardinals' record-setting performances in victories in a season (11) and best finish (third place) during the postseason.
Jordan Gregory (Martin County West) - The freshman phenom.
The all-Section 2A choice proved a difficult out at the plate, striking out only once in 62 at-bats en route to a team-leading .468 batting average this spring.
The all-Valley Conference selection produced 29 hits, including three doubles, one home run and a team-high five triples to generate 17 RBIs during her varsity debut season.
The sure-fielding second baseman also topped the Mavericks by stealing 11 bases in 11 attempts, tied for the No. 1 spot with 25 runs scored and posted a .576 on-base percentage to round out the beginning of a stellar prep career on the diamond.
Courtney Guetter (Fairmont) - The comeback kid.
The all-Section 3AA choice missed her entire sophomore season due to a knee injury, but bounced back to assemble an outstanding junior campaign for the Cardinals.
Fairmont's sure-handed outfielder tallied a .371 batting average from the leadoff spot behind 26 hits, including three doubles.
The fleet-footed Guetter proved a table-setter for the offense, scoring 27 runs to complement 10 RBIs and a .413 on-base percentage.
Guetter proved a key contributor in the Cardinals' record-setting ways in wins in a single season (11) and the program's first-ever third-place showing in the sectional.
Collete Haag (North Union) - A rare five-time All-Area choice.
The five-time all-Corn Belt Conference selection stepped onto the varsity diamond as an eighth-grader and played nearly every game at the most productive level throughout her incredible career.
The three-time all-state infielder drilled opposing hurlers at a .435 clip on the strength of 47 hits, including nine doubles and a team-leading eight home runs this summer.
The Warriors' senior standout - who hammered the softball at a slugging pace of .741 - also scored 38 runs, drove in 42 runs and drew 16 walks en route to a .523 on-base percentage.
Haag played a key role in guiding her school's softball program to back-to-back state appearances in 2010 and 2011, in addition to five conference championships and more than 150 victories during her unforgettable prep playing days.
Janessa Jahnke (Blue Earth Area) - The signal-caller.
The three-time All-Area choice drilled the softball at a team-leading .442 clip during her fourth and final prep campaign.
The three-time all-South Central Conference catcher also topped the Bucs' batting order by driving in 11 runs to complement the lineup's No. 1 slugging percentage this spring.
Jahnke also proved a force behind the plate, stopping nearly every delivery hurled in her direction, in addition to throwing out a handful of runners to round out her senior campaign.
Sara Johnson (North Union) - A powerful swing.
The Warriors' hard-hitting outfielder earned her second spot on the All-Area lineup by cranking deliveries at a .369 pace during her senior season.
The all-Corn Belt Conference selection amassed 38 hits, including one double, three triples and one home run en route to 33 RBIs this summer.
The fleet-footed Johnson crossed the plate 36 times, drew nine walks, compiled a .425 on-base percentage and pounded out a .466 slugging clip to complete her four-year career.
Johnson proved a vital cog in the program's ascent in the state rankings, two state appearances and four conference championships during her varsity tenure.
Dena Looft (North Union) - Quick reflexes at the hot corner.
The hard-hitting third baseman slugged her way to a third selection to the All-Area lineup over the past four campaigns.
The perennial all-Corn Belt Conference choice hammered the softball at a team third-best .452 clip on the strength of 47 hits, including seven doubles and five home runs, this summer.
Looft collected 36 RBIs, scored 33 runs, drew 13 walks, pounded out a .663 slugging mark and generated a .525 on-base percentage.
Looft played a big role in guiding the Warriors to the conference championship, a 33-3 overall record and an appearance in the regional finals.
Savannah Stevens (Madelia/Truman) - The ultimate stalwart.
The hard-working perennial all-Valley Conference selection topped the Jayhawks' offense with a .455 batting average, 20 hits and 11 RBIs this spring.
The 2012 all-Section 2A choice delivered four doubles, one triple and one home run during her fourth and final year at the varsity level.
Madelia/Truman's captain proved a tough out by striking out only three times in 44 at-bats this campaign to complement eight walks and a dozen runs scored.
The Jayhawks' defensive player of the year recorded two assists and 102 putouts while handling the team's first base duties to wrap up an outstanding prep career.
Kate Thiesse (Martin County West) - Toughness incorporated.
The all-Valley Conference shortstop proved an offensive catalyst for the Mavericks, scoring a co-best 25 runs via a team second-best 26 hits and .412 batting average this season.
The slick-fielding junior infielder generated five doubles, one triple and two home runs to drive in 19 runs, in addition to producing a .537 on-base percentage during the spring.
Courtney Whitmore (Fairmont) - The cornerstone of Cardinal softball.
The two-time All-Area second baseman proved a prominent force behind Fairmont's steady improvement as a program during her four-year varsity tenure.
The three-time all-South Central Conference selection cranked out a .342 batting average behind 27 hits, including six doubles, one triple and one home run this spring.
Whitmore produced 18 RBIs, scored 27 runs, compiled a .481 slugging clip and a .395 on-base percentage to help engineer the Cardinals' record-setting campaign in victories (11) and highest finish in the sectional playoffs (third).
Morgan Williamson (Martin County West) - The two-time all-star.
The two-time all-state choice earned a spot in the Minnesota High School Softball Coaches Association's all-star series before meriting playing time in the Minnesota-Wisconsin all-star border battle this spring.
The repeat All-Area third baseman topped the Mavericks with six doubles and 14 walks to complement 21 hits overall, including two triples and a pair of home runs during her final prep campaign.
The two-time all-Valley Conference infielder hit .428, scored 22 runs, collected 15 RBIs and generated a .618 on-base percentage to round out another stellar season.
The three-year varsity starter exits her career as the program's single-season RBI record-holder with 39, set in 2012.