Waukon High School softball standout Holly Hesse achieves 800th career coaching victory

Holly Hesse ... Photo courtesy of Missouri State University.

Former Waukon High School standout softball pitcher Holly Hesse continues to reach landmark achievements in her career coaching the game she loves. The 1977 graduate of Waukon High School most recently became the 30th NCAA Division I active head softball coach to achieve 800 career wins courtesy of a 3-2 Missouri Valley Conference victory at home for her Missouri State University Bears over the University of Northern Iowa Sunday, March 24.

Further heightening that milestone achievement is the manner in which it came, as that 3-2 victory arrived in walk-off fashion. Senior third baseman Kyana Mason was able to sprint home on a wild pitch in the bottom of the seventh inning to break a 2-2 tie and further add to her head coach’s career achievements.

Along with joining 29 other active NCAA DI softball head coaches within the ranks of the 800-win achievement, Hesse becomes just the second Missouri Valley Conference coach to reach that plateau, joining Illinois State University’s Melinda Fischer, who has well over 1,000 career victories. Through that dramatic milestone win, Hesse had posted a career record of 800-778-2 in her 31 seasons with the Bears.

“It’s the product of a long career and a great staff,” said Hesse, who has accumulated all 800 of her head coaching victories at the helm of Missouri State. “(Associate head coaches) Sue Frederick and Beth Perine are a huge part of the success of this program, and a lot of great players have come through our program and gotten us to this moment.”

Prior to her high-achieving coaching tenure, and prior to any softball for Hesse at all at the collegiate level, she proved her knack for the game by racking up a school record 161 pitching victories at Waukon High School. Hesse pitched the softball Indians to back-to-back State Softball Tournament appearances, where the Indians earned their highest finish in program history - runner-up to Urbandale - in 1977 and also finished fourth in 1976 in the all-class format played back then. For her efforts on the prep diamond, she was inducted into the Iowa Girls High School Pitchers’ Hall of Fame in 1979.

Hesse carried over her mound mastery to also become a stand-out pitcher at Creighton University in Omaha, NE, where she became the school’s first 20-game winner and helped the Jays to three consecutive College World Series appearances, including the inaugural NCAA Women’s College World Series in 1982.

Following her graduation from Creighton in 1982, Hesse transitioned from playing the game she loved to teaching it to others, serving as an assistant coach for two seasons each at Iowa State University in Ames and the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, where she earned her master’s degree in sport management in 1984. Hesse also coached for two seasons at her high school alma mater in Waukon.

Following another two-year assistant coaching stint at her collegiate alma mater, Hesse arrived at Missouri State University in time for the 1989 softball season, beginning her current tenure that has now reached three decades and her latest career achievement. She is the daughter of LaVonne Hesse of Waukon and the late Roger Hesse.

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