WEBSTER CITY - Darin Biere has mended more than a few bruises over the years. His arms, his legs, they've been beaten up by hundreds of drop balls and thousands of fastballs.
The man even had to go out and buy his own set of shin guards, a sure sign his little girl was getting better at her craft.
And now, some six or seven years after he first got into a crouch in his backyard, Darin Biere and his wife, Kathy, know all of the hours where softball consumed their lives has been worth it.
Their daughter's dream - and therefore their dream, too - has come true.
Kaitlyn Biere, a Webster City senior and soon-to-be five year starter in the circle for the Lynx, has announced that she will play college softball at Division I Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, beginning in the fall. She will officially sign her letter of intent in April.
IPFW is a member of the Summit League and is coaching by Amy Tudor.
BY THE NUMBERS
Kaitlyn Biere in a Lynx uniform
2009 (8th grade season)
204 IP, 33 ER?(1.13 ERA)
73 BB, 173 SO
2010 (9th grade season)
1692?3 IP, 29 ER?(1.20 ERA)
41 BB, 191 SO
2011 (10th grade season)
2011?3 IP, 37 ER (1.29 ERA)
29 BB, 228 SO
2012 (11th grade season)
171 IP, 34 ER (1.39 ERA)
19 BB, 186 SO
746 IP, 133 ER?(1.25 ERA)
162 BB, 778 SO
"I'm really excited and it's such a great opportunity because I wasn't sure I'd ever have the chance to pitch at that level," Biere, a four-time first-team all-North Central Conference and four-time all-state right-handed hurler, said. "It really is a dream come true."
Biere chose IPFW over Buena Vista University, and she has Myndie Berka - her personal pitching coach and the owner of BreakThrough Fastpitch - to thank for introducing her to Tudor.
"(Tudor) is best friends with (Berka), and last fall Myndie told me the college was looking for a pitcher," Biere said. "(Tudor) came down and watched me play when my club team (I-CLUB out of Des Moines) was in St. Louis."
The only thing holding Biere back was the idea of jetting off to college 8 hours away from home, but a visit to the Indiana campus in late January wiped away all of her reservations.
"When we went out there I was able to meet all of the coaches and players, and afterwards I knew that was where I wanted to go," Biere said.
A future elementary education major, Biere was initially going to receive a partial athletic scholarship and a partial academic scholarship to cover her entire expenses, but another trip to Indiana later in the winter for an interview led to a full academic scholarship.
WCHS head softball coach Jess Howard is also excited for her pupil, who she's watched grow up over the last five years. Howard has no doubt that Biere can succeed.
"She definitely does have the tools to play at that level and if she's lacking in any area she's willing to put in the time," Howard said. "Kaitlyn's biggest thing is her dedication. Her talent is very important also, but she's proof that if you're willing to devote yourself like that, it does pay off in the end."
Biere owns a career record of 73-39 in a Lynx uniform. In 746 innings pitched, she's allowed just 133 earned runs - her career earned run average sits at 1.25 - and fanned 778 batters. Opponents own a .174 batting average against her.
Her statistics aren't going to rival those of former WCHS great BreAnn VanDeer, who finished her career in 2005 with 149 victories and 1,282 strikeouts, but Howard is quick to point out that the prep game has evolved in recent years. Teams no longer play in excess of 50 games per year, and Biere also had to adapt when the pitching rubber was moved back three feet - from 40 to 43 feet - several years ago.
"When other pitchers played for Webster City, they pitched 50 or 55 games a year and that wasn't including the postseason, so they definitely had an advantage," Howard said. "I think (Biere) has got all the tools to be compared to the best softball players that have gone through Webster City. She's not only a force on the mound; she's a force offensively and if I let her run the bases she'd be a force there, too."
Biere admits that reaching 100 career victories and 1,000 career strikeouts are goals she's set for this summer, but her aspirations don't trump those of the team.
"Those would be good milestones, but they're not that important," she said.
"Numbers aren't the only things that define her," Howard said. "If she gets to those marks we're going to be ecstatic, but if she doesn't it's not reflective of the player that she is."
Biere will continue to play club softball through the spring before embarking on her final season with WCHS this summer. And then it's off to Indiana, where the next leg of her journey will begin.