Lindsay Ingram isn’t sure how Florida’s softball athletes stack up against Illinois.
She can attest that the Sunshine State is an absolute softball oasis.
The 1996 Lincoln High School graduate has flourished in that competitive climate and this past season led Deltona to the Florida High School Athletic Association Class 4A state softball title as the head coach.
It was not only the first softball title in Volusia County history, but also the first state title for any sport in Deltona’s history.
“It was so exciting to bring that to the community and our county,” said Ingram, who competed in volleyball, basketball and softball as Lindsay Klockenga at Lincoln.
Ingram additionally garnered the Florida Dairy Farmers’ Softball Coach of the Year award across all seven classifications following the unprecedented run in her 18th season at the helm.
“Florida is definitely a softball state,” Ingram said, “so to win that (state title) was huge for me and then to win overall coach of the year for the whole state of Florida, too, was just icing on top of the cake for me.”
Growing up in Lincoln
Ingram didn’t start playing organized softball until she was about 9 or 10 years old.
She still possessed the athletic pedigree to succeed on the diamond from constantly playing Wiffle ball in the backyard with her two older brothers, Brent and Blake Klockenga. She eventually picked up travel ball with the Bloomington Lady Hearts at 14.
“We're a sports family,” Ingram said. “I just always had sports around me.”
She glistened at shortstop with the Railsplitters and reached the all-Central State Eight Conference team her senior year despite coping with a torn ACL from the volleyball season.
It was certainly a different time back then.
“I would just pop that sucker back in and keep going,” Ingram said. “I know it's crazy when I say it now because now they wouldn't let you do that.”
That nagging injury continued to saddle Ingram through freshman year at Eastern Illinois and forced her to shift from the outfield to designated hitter before finally getting surgery the ensuing summer.
The Lindsay Klockenga name still resides in the EIU record book. She ranks seventh for games started in a season (61) as well as third for both walks in a season (27) and career (78).
Her knee is perfectly fine now but begs the question: how tough is she as a coach?
“I have high expectations of my girls,” Ingram said. “I want them to put in that work. If they put in the work, they'll get the reward. That was kind of this year, too.
“The team this year was 1-9 solid. My top two batters were hitting over 500. I expected 1-9 to do what they needed to in their position and at-bats for the team.”
'Several talented players'
Ingram has perhaps mellowed somewhat over the years with two daughters: Kindsay, 15 and Macey, 7.
“I think I've gotten softer as I've had my own two girls,” Ingram said. “Some of my other players would tell you, 'Oh, coach, you're getting soft in your older years. I'm like, 'No, when you're younger, you get fired up.' I get fired up, but I know that if you practice what you preach then in the game, they should be able to do it.”
Her husband, John Ingram, also graduated from Lincoln in 1995 and played baseball at Illinois Central College and Kentucky Wesleyan. They sometimes revisit Logan County to see friends and family.
“My husband's from Lincoln too, so we don't mind coming back to visit but we like them to come to Florida instead,” Ingram said. “We're beach and boat people and usually by the water as much as we can get.”
She also relishes the influx of talent at Deltona, located just northeast of Orlando.
Junior left-handed ace Katie McCaw earned Class 4A player of the year honors after transferring from California. That just happened to be a stroke of luck and helped the Wolves ultimately hurdle the proverbial postseason hump.
“She was just a dynamic player for us,” Ingram said of McCaw.
Other former standouts have helped her transcend over 300 career wins. Heidi Johnson turned pro with the Akron Racers while Aleima Lopez represented the Puerto Rican National Team to name just a couple.
“I’ve had several talented players,” Ingram said.
Contact Bill Welt: (217) 788-1545, firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter.com/BillWelt
This article originally appeared on State Journal-Register: Lincoln High graduate wins Florida school softball state title