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Changes afoot for area softball teams

Two area softball teams will begin the 2014 season with new coaches.

Garland Shirley, who led the Van Meter program for the past six years, was hired this week for the head job at Ankeny Centennial. Shirley’s teams recorded 23 or more wins in each of the last four seasons, including a 31-7 mark in 2012. That season culminated in a trip to the state tournament in Fort Dodge, the first state-qualifying Bulldog softball team in school history.

A-D-M’s new coach is no stranger to the state tournament either. Legendary coach Rick Dillinger has nearly 40 years of coaching experience under his belt, most recently at powerhouse North Polk. He owns a 1,033-508 record and has led teams to 11 state tournaments, capturing championships in 2000, 2006 and 2008.

Dillinger, who is 10th all-time in career wins in the state, will look to help turn around a program that went 4-26 last season.

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