(Council Bluffs) -- A shortened season and global pandemic could not stop the improvement of the St. Albert softball program.

The Saintes doubled their win total from 2019, competed in nearly every game during a rigorous schedule and made an unprecedented run to a regional semifinal. For all of those feats, their head coach Lyndsey Daley is this year’s KMAland Softball Coach of the Year.

“It was a crazy year,” Daley told KMA Sports. “I think everybody was really excited to play and everyone knew our expectations had raised. We thought we could be pretty good.”

St. Albert opened the year by contending against Class 4A stalwarts Harlan and Lewis Central, and Coach Daley says their performance in those first two contests helped them believe in themselves.

“Both of those games, we had just one bad inning,” she said. “We just talked all year about taking it one pitch at a time. Move to the next pitch and continue to improve. We just continued to take one pitch at a time, and then got into the mindset that we’re going to go out and compete with everyone.”

To understand the unprecedented season St. Albert put together this season, you have to look at their recent history. During the QuikStats era, the Saintes had just one winning season and topped out at 13 wins. With a full season this year, the 8-11 Saintes likely would have flown past that number.

“When I started five years ago, there just weren’t many girls out,” Daley said. “I needed to get more girls out, so I started with third through seventh grade open gyms. I started with those girls. Those first group of third graders are now eighth graders, and we had 12 of them come out this year.”

The building is not quite done yet for St. Albert, but Coach Daley can now point to their doubled win total and a deep run in regional play before losing in a semifinal to No. 5 ranked West Monona.

“The excitement is there,” Daley said. “I have girls coming out that truly love softball. I couldn’t believe the amount of girls after our last game that said they are ready to go for next year. They can’t wait until next year. I’m excited, too, and that’s encouraging.”

Daley is the second consecutive and seventh Hawkeye Ten Conference coach to win the award in the eight seasons it has been handed out. Listen to her complete interview below.

Previous KMAland Coach of the Year Winners

2019: Brooke Wilson, Harlan

2018: Chris Conover, Riverside

2017: Kevin Dau, Denison-Schleswig

2016: Terry Hinzmann, Atlantic

2015: Mike McCabe, Creston

2014: Mike McCabe, Creston

2013: Kevin Dau, Denison-Schleswig

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