Gilbert senior Bella Nelson will get the chance to represent the Tigers’ softball program one more time on Saturday, July 23, when she takes part in the Iowa Girls Coaches Association All-Star series at Waukee High School.
Nelson, a five-year starter and all-conference performer, will be the first Gilbert player to ever play in the prestigious series. She will compete for Team Red and will play at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Three teams — Team Red, Team White and Team Blue — will each have 13 to 14 players on their respective rosters for the round-robin format.
Nelson will also take part in the Home Run Derby as part of the All-Star Series. She owns Gilbert’s school record for career dingers with 16.
It’s not a surprise to Tigers’ head softball coach Staci Snizek that Nelson was chosen to play alongside and against the best players in the state. Nelson has spent her entire career proving that she belongs among the elite.
“For a student-athlete like Bella to represent us is perfect just because of what she’s given back in the other sports,” Snizek said. “She’s just a really good kid, and it lets other players learn about what hard work can do. She’s representing Gilbert and that’s just going to help more Gilbert kids set goals.”
Twice a Class 4A all-state selection, Nelson exits Gilbert having played in 122 games with a career batting average of .411 to go along with 108 RBIs and a slugging percentage of .653.
As a senior, Nelson hit at a .351 clip and led the team in RBIs with 31. She also belted two home runs, her final long ball coming in the first inning of the Tigers’ 15-3, 6-inning rout of Webster City in a 4A regional quarterfinal contest last Friday evening.
Snizek says the numbers are indicative of Nelson’s work ethic, both in front of fans and when no one was looking.
“Bella is the type of player that even though she would have one of the highest batting averages on the team, she’d be the last one at the diamond always getting extra cuts in,” Snizek said. “She would still put that extra work in even if she was hitting well, so for her to be rewarded with this is perfect.”
Nelson helped Gilbert post an overall record of 14-16 during the 2022 season. The Tigers put a scare into fifth-ranked and Raccoon River Conference rival Carlisle in the 4A regional semifinal round before the Wildcats ultimately prevailed in 8 innings, 4-3.
A three-sport standout at Gilbert, Nelson piled up 110 kills, 49 digs, 39 blocks and 14 service aces for the Tigers’ volleyball team last fall. In 2020, she was a starter on the Tigers’ squad that reached the 4A state semifinals.
This past spring, she ran on a pair of relays — the sprint medley and 4×100 — at the state track and field meet.
Nelson will head to Des Moines Area Community College in the fall where she will continue her softball career for the Bears, a national power at the junior college level.
“She committed to (DMACC) last summer and she’s super excited to use that as maybe a bridge to something bigger,” Snizek said. “That’s Bella’s end goal, to keep developing as a player and hopefully end up in Division I.”
Nelson is the daughter of Wade and Marcy Nelson. She has two siblings, Riley and Brooklyn; Riley, a 2019 Gilbert graduate, was also an all-state softball player for the Tigers. She went on to play collegiately at North Iowa Area Community College.
Congratulations to Bella on a tremendous honor and a fantastic career at Gilbert Schools.