Hannah Belt had just returned from a basketball team camp at Okoboji, so softball may not have been foremost on her mind.
But then the Thomas Jefferson sophomore saw online that she’d made the All-City team, and she felt compelled to text her softball coaches. In part, the text said, “I just want to thank you guys for everything you did for me this summer.’’
Said Belt: “I just felt like I needed to do it.’’
The girls coaches at T.J. appreciate the efforts of Belt, a five-sport athlete. Her softball achievements this summer have earned her The Daily Nonpareil’s nod as its Council Bluffs Softball Player of the Year for the 2019 season.
Belt led the city in RBIs with 28, and her .471 batting average ranked behind only teammate Caitlyn Jones (.494) among Council Bluffs players. Her .632 slugging percentage also was second in the city.
Belt is at the plate to hit. She walked four times and struck out three times in 29 games.
“She doesn’t think about the situation,’’ T.J. coach Amy Anderson said. “She just thinks about getting up there, looking for her pitch and attacking the ball.’’
Belt played a stellar center field for the 7-22 Jackets, making only two errors to go with five assists for a .962 fielding percentage.
“We really preach to our outfield that if we have a fly ball in the air, we’ve got to catch it no matter where it’s at,’’ Anderson said. “She just lives that, every single pitch. It’s just really fun watching her. You know that she’s going to go through a brick wall for her team and her pitcher to get there and try to catch it.’’
Belt said her mother, Melea Maddox, passed on her love of sports to her. Maddox participated in basketball, track and softball at Thomas Jefferson.
“She has always been my big motivation,’’ Belt said. “She has pushed me to keep going with (my sports), even though it’s hard on my body. She makes sure I get to them on time. And she loves watching me. She’s a big role model.’’
Belt is a varsity cross country runner. She hit a game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer last December against Abraham Lincoln, ending the program’s 21-game losing streak to the Lynx. She was the track team’s top 1,500- and 3,000-meter runner in the spring, while finishing second on the soccer team in scoring with 12 goals.
“Sometimes it’s hard for me to sit still,’’ Belt said. “I love playing them all.’’
Belt was difficult to keep off the basepaths, finishing with a .495 on-base percentage. She had seven doubles, two triples and a homer.
Anderson, who was the city player of the year in 1989 as Amy Midkiff, said Belt sets a strong example for the other T.J. athletes.
“She’s one of those kids where if she plays something, she’s going to give it everything she’s got,’’ she said. “She cares about her team. She cares about whatever sport she’s going to play.’’
Belt said she welcomes the next two years, when she’ll be one of the older team members and can impart her wisdom on others.
“I want to step up and be a bigger leader and help out the younger kids,’’ she said.
In addition to her mother, her grandmother, Barb Belt, and her sister, Taylor Maddox, are also mainstays at all of her Yellow Jacket games. Taylor will be a sophomore at T.J. this fall.
“They work around my schedule,’’ Hannah Belt said. “It’s hard to plan a vacation. They’re always supporting me through everything and always cheering me on at my games.’’
Council Bluffs Softball Players of the Year
2019 – Hannah Belt, Thomas Jefferson
2018 – Ashtyn Miller, Lewis Central
2017 – Josie Shudak, Lewis Central
2016 – McKena Duffek, Lewis Central
2015 – Lauren Nahnsen, Abraham Lincoln
2014 – Lauren Nahnsen, Abraham Lincoln
2013 – Lauren Meeker, Abraham Lincoln
2012 – Allie Martinez, Lewis Central
2011 – Taylor Powers, Abraham Lincoln
2010 – Brittnie Kreiser, Lewis Central
2009 – Brittnie Kreiser, Lewis Central
2008 – Brittnie Kreiser, Lewis Central
2007 – Brittnie Kreiser, Lewis Central
2006 – Kimber Markley, Abraham Lincoln
2005 – Kimber Markley, Abraham Lincoln
2004 – Sarah Walck, Thomas Jefferson
2003 – Kellie Price, Abraham Lincoln
2002 – Angie Bergantzel, Thomas Jefferson
2001 – Melissa Respeliers, St. Albert
2000 – Kristen Kinsel, Lewis Central
1999 – Anna Petersen, Abraham Lincoln
1998 – Molly Parrott, Lewis Central
1997 – Heidi Livingston, Abraham Lincoln
1996 – Keri Feilen, Abraham Lincoln
1995 – Anne Howsare, Lewis Central
1994 – Mandi Phillips, Abraham Lincoln
1993 – Tracy Cochran, Thomas Jefferson
1992 – Kristi Blachford, Lewis Central
1991 – Suzanne Riche, Lewis Central
1990 – Kristine Heller, Lewis Central
1989 – Amy Midkiff, Thomas Jefferson
1988 – Michelle Koch, Thomas Jefferson