When it came time to choose just the second softball coach in Ottumwa High history, the Bulldogs chose a coach who played a major role in the team’s past success.
Former OHS all-state pitcher Mandi Moore will take over the Bulldog softball program, succeeding Frank Huston, who retired last summer after leading Ottumwa to the state tournament for the 28th time. Her hiring was officially approved by the school board Monday night. Moore pitched four years at the varsity level from 2010 to 2013, twice earning all-state honors and appearing in the state tournament in 2010, 2012 and 2013.
Moore spent the 2019 season as the head coach at Keokuk, her first season as a varsity head coach. The Chiefs, who had only three seniors on their roster, went 3-31. Prior to taking the Keokuk job, Moore coached junior high softball for Cardinal.
As a Bulldog, Moore went 65-15 in four varsity seasons, including a combined 41-12 record in 2012 and 2013 when she was Ottumwa’s #1 starter. She led Ottumwa to the state tournament in both of those seasons, and still owns the Bulldogs’ last state tournament victory, a 2-0 shutout over Cedar Rapids Jefferson in the 2013 quarterfinals. After high school, Moore pitched two seasons for Indian Hills, then finished her playing career at Iowa State.
Unlike her season at Keokuk, Moore takes over an Ottumwa team with a lot of experience heading into next season. Senior pitchers Kacy Nickerson and Ashton Brown both return after combining for a 33-9 record in 2019. Nickerson also hit over .400 for the Bulldogs, who also bring back senior shortstop Kaylee Bix (.419, 9 HR, 40 RBI), senior first baseman Jillian Heaton (.331, 7 HR, 34 RBI) and senior center fielder Hannah Huisinga (.381, 4 HR, 29 RBI).
Of course, Moore has big shoes to fill in replacing her former coach. Huston retired with 1,853 wins in 53 seasons, ranking second nationally all-time. 1,698 of those wins came in his 46 years at Ottumwa, where he started the program and built it into a perennial powerhouse. The Bulldogs’ 28th appearance at the state tournament last summer tied Huston for the all-time record among Iowa coaches.
Ottumwa will introduce Moore at a press conference late Thursday afternoon.