Ella Pierce only recently completed her junior year of softball, but her standout 2020 season has been in the works for a long time.
This year’s Nonpareil Area Softball Player of the Year batted .409, slugged .500, had 13 RBIs and was 12-2 with a 1.32 ERA as a pitcher. Those numbers are not only impressive on their own, but consider the jump she made in one year. Last season as a sophomore, Pierce hit .290 and was 12-5 with a 2.80 ERA.
Pierce’s breakout junior season helped guide Underwood to 14-5 record and secure its first state tournament berth since 2004.
But, behind the eye-catching stats and success on the field is hours and hours spent honing a craft of which the foundation began early.
“I like to say my softball journey started before I was even born, because my mom played in college (at Iowa Western),” Pierce said with a laugh. “I played T-ball, coach-pitch and all of that when I was younger, but nothing really happened until my sister Maddie and I were in sixth-grade. That’s when we started playing club softball in Nebraska to get more college exposure.”
It became evident early in the interview that Pierce’s biological family, along with her Underwood softball family, are not only part of her success, but something she values greatly. When asked a question about her own success, Pierce instead went around the diamond, complimenting each of her teammates, giving a thoughtful comment on each of their skills.
Pierce’s twin sister Maddie plays catcher, while their younger sister Grace played shortstop last season as a freshman.
“I think it’s really cool, because not a lot of people can say their twin sister is their catcher. She’s great at seeing things and letting me know if I need to change anything. I go straight to her because she knows exactly what she’s talking about,” Pierce said. “There’s some times where we might snip at each other, but at the end of the day, we’re all best friends and I couldn’t do this without both of them.”
Underwood head coach Lea Crouse credits Ella and her sisters for getting the most out of each other.
“Having those three all in the infield is a cool dynamic,” Crouse said. “They all love the game of softball they. I don’t think there’s ever a weekend that they aren’t in their batting cage, or playing for their club team or something. They put 110% into the game of softball.”
The sisters are so in sync on the field that their final 2020 stats are uncanny in their similarities.
Unbeknownst to Ella, her and her sisters all had exactly 18 hits on the season, while her and Grace had identical .409 batting averages. Maddie batted .333 with a team-high 15 RBIs and four home runs.
The individual success is great, but after getting a taste of state, Ella is determined to get back after a first-round loss to Louisa-Muscatine.
“I think we showed people what it takes and I really think we can make it back there,” Pierce said. “But this next go around, we need to make some noise.”
All-area softball team
Ella Pierce, Underwood, Jr.
Grace Pierce, Underwood, Fr.
Maddie Pierce, Underwood, Jr.
Macy Vanfossan, Underwood, Jr.
Natalie Hagadon, AHSTW, So.
Grace Porter, AHSTW, Fr.
Sydney Zimmerman, AHSTW, Sr.
Ally Meyers, AHSTW, So.
Braden Liddick, Glenwood, Sr.
Coryl Matheny, Glenwood, So.
Kelly Embray, Glenwood, Jr.
Taryn Bertini, Glenwood, Sr.
Kenna Ford, Riverside, Jr.
Ashlynn Amdor, Riverside, Sr.
Gracie Bluml, Riverside, Sr.
Jadyn Achenbach, Riverside, Sr.
Hailey Chishom, Tri-Center, So.
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