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FORT DODGE — The clock of fatherhood, Jim White understands, is ticking. And it’s not about to slow down any time soon.
His boys are growing up.
The reality hit hard earlier this summer when his son’s USSSA baseball team was playing in the state championship game, and White had to leave for softball practice.
“It was the first time something softball-related bothered me so much,” said White, whose third-ranked Solon Spartans face No. 4 Carlisle in a Class 4A semifinal at the state softball tournament at 5 p.m. Thursday at the Rogers Sports Complex. “I’ll drive five, six hours to go scout, but this ... this was tough.”
White, 50, is one of the most decorated softball coaches the state has produced. His teams at Clear Creek Amana captured six state championships before he opted to leave after the 2012 season to take the same position with the Spartans.
He has won 888 games in 20 seasons, producing a winning percentage of .877.
“I think he’s so successful because he’s really good at understanding girls,” said senior shortstop Mallory Madsen, who followed White from CCA to Solon. “Girls can be kind of drama-oriented, but he’s really patient with us.”
White is still passionate about softball. But family is family, and that might be enough to pull him away from a sport in which he had made a deep imprint. Soon, perhaps.
“I’ve got to figure out when that will be,” said White, who said he will coach softball at Solon at least through 2015. “After that, I have to find what works best for my family.
“When I leave, I won’t leave completely. I might be a volunteer assistant for a college team or something.”
His oldest son, Brett, is a 9-year-old who hits left-handed — “He’s a slapper,” White laughed. Next in line is Brady, 7.
White said he will help coach Brett’s team in the fall.
“I’m super-excited about that,” he said.
Upon his arrival at Solon, White inherited a softball team that was the 3A runner-up in 2012. The Spartans brought a 40-2 record to state last year, stumbled in the 4A first round against Washington (Iowa) and finished sixth.
“We remember how it felt to lose that first-round game,” Madsen said. “Because of that, we’re a tougher team this year.”
The Spartans (38-2) sailed past Clear Creek Amana, 15-4, in Tuesday’s quarterfinal, banging out a tournament-record 21 hits. It gets tougher Thursday against Carlisle (34-2), another traditional power.
“They’re as fast a team as I’ve seen,” White said.
It’s one of three semifinal matchups involving area teams. Class 2A top-ranked Highland (32-1) — which has won 25 straight games since an early-June loss to Solon — meets No. 5 Eddyville EBF (25-5) at 11 a.m. while Lansing Kee (33-9) battles No. 4 Ackley AGWSR (28-6) in a 1A game at 11:30.
Championship and third-place games are Friday.
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