Looft topping the hitting charts

In the fall North Union senior Dena Looft was all about stats, helping the Warrior football team keep track of their game stats.

In the summer for the last five years Looft has then made her own mark in the stat books, ranking near the top each year offensively for three different varsity softball teams.

“I think I am better at defense, but I think I just always look forward to hitting,” said Looft. “I like to just see and hit the ball.”

In addition to her offensive efforts, Looft has also been a defensive cornerstone at third base for the last five years.

“I started playing when I was little and my mom was my coach, that was where the love of the game really came from,” said Looft. “I like to think it was something that I was good at, so I kept playing and as an eighth grader got pulled up to play varsity for Armstrong.”

Looft has been a three time All-Corn Belt Conference and three time All-Area selection during her five years of varsity softball.

And in this, her final season, Looft has recorded 45 hits in 93 at-bats, including nine doubles and three home runs.

With 34 RBIs and only three strikeouts, Looft has a .484 batting average, .515 on-base percentage and .677 slugging percentage heading into the playoffs.

The senior third basemen’s defense isn’t something that opponents should forget about either.

This season Looft has tallied 30 put outs, 50 assists and only four errors in 84 opportunities.

“I really like the hard hit balls, I think that is why I like third. I don’t have much time to think, I just react,” said Looft. “When it’s a slow bouncy ground ball I have too much time to think about it.”

In all her time on the varsity, Looft has never had to venture off the hot corner of the field, but that’s right where she wants to be.

“I played first and shortstop when I was younger, but I could never pitch. I would get too bored,” said Looft. “I like being right on third because they come so fast you always have to be paying attention.”

In addtion to being a great teammate, Looft has also played on some great teams, like her freshman year when North Sentral Kossuth/Armstrong-Ringsted made it to the state tournament.

“I was so nervous to play in state when I was younger, it was a lot of pressure I think to play varsity at state but now I don’t really get nervous for games,” said Looft. “I’ve been playing for five years now, so I just go out and play.”

This season’s version of the Warriors, Class 2A, No. 7-ranked is looking to be a formitable opponent in the playoffs as well, finishing the regular season 26-5.

“I just really like playing with people I love and doing something I love,” said Looft. “After five years I think I will miss the game, but I am ready to move on as well when the season is over.”

Not that Looft or the Warriors want their season to end quickly. In the last two seasons, the Warriors have lost in the district playoffs, falling short of the state tournament.

Looft, junior Autumn Boland and senior Taylor Mathine are the only Warriors with state tournament experience, hoping to get another chance to play there this final season.

“I really loved the last time we went to state,” said Looft about NSKAR’s second-place finish in the 2011 Class 1A State Tournament. “That group of senior girls I had played with since eighth grade. But I made the last out in the championship. That’s one thing I don’t like about softball, the plays you can’t forget.”

Looft has had plenty of plays that have since provided fans with opportunities to cheer, including a grand slam on June 25 against Estherville Lincoln Central in a 6-4 win in Swea City.

Looft will have a chance to add to her stellar softball career stats and memories when North Union plays host to the winner of Belmond-Kleme and West Hancock in Class 2A, Region 2 playoff action this Wednesday at 7 p.m. in Swea City.