Seven of the top 10 teams, including the top four in the final Iowa High School Baseball Coaches Association rankings, survived the district and substate to advance to the 2018 state tournament in Class 1A. The seven are top-rated Newman Catholic, second-ranked Lisbon, third-ranked North Linn and fourth-ranked Remsen St. Mary’s. Sixth-ranked Martensdale-St. Marys, seventh-ranked Council Bluffs St. Albert and ninth-ranked Tri-Center complete the ranked teams.
RETURNING FROM 2017: Five teams from last year’s qualifiers return, led by defending champion Newman Catholic. Also back are North Linn, Remsen St. Mary’s, Lisbon and Martensdale-St. Marys.
FIRST-TIME STATE COACHES: Two of the eight coaches are making their state tournament debut. They are Max Kozeal of Tri-Center, in his second season, and Duncan Patterson of St. Albert, also in his second year as a head coach.
PAST TITLE HOLDERS: Five teams in this year’s field have a combined total of 18 state titles. Newman Catholic has won six crowns, while Remsen St. Mary’s and Martensdale-St. Marys each have four, St. Albert has three and Lisbon one. In addition, Remsen St. Mary’s has won three fall state tournament championships.
CONSECUTIVE TOURNEY CHAIN: Newman Catholic joins the field for the 11th straight year, which is an all-class best. The Knights are in their 22nd pilgrimage to the championships, also an all-time, all-class best. Martensdale-St. Marys is in the tourney for the 15th time, while Remsen St. Mary’s is back for its 11th appearance
BEST WIN STREAKS: Lisbon at 34-0 leads six teams with current double-digit win streaks. Newman Catholic’s sole loss was to Class 3A Bishop Heelan Catholic in early June and has a 24-game win streak. Two of North Linn’s losses were a pair of one-run setbacks to Lisbon and the third was to top-ranked Cascade in Class 2A. The Lynx have a current 16-game win chain. Martensdale-St. Marys enters the tournament with a 15-game victory streak, while Remsen St. Mary’s has won its last 12. Tri-Center brings an 11-game streak to the tournament.
PLAYING UP: Each team in the field played “up” in class during the regular season for at least five games. St. Albert had 30 games against 2A, 3A or 4A teams to lead the pack. Newman Catholic (20) and Martensdale-St. Marys (18) were next.
COMBINED WIN PERCENTAGE: With seven teams in the field with 25 or more wins, the eight teams have a combined 88.7-win percentage with a 251-32 record.
TOP COACHES: Co-coaches at Remsen St. Mary’s are among the winningest coaches in this year’s 1A field. Jim Wesselmann has a career mark of 633-253 over a 35-year period and Dean Harpenau has a 14-year mark of 342-155. North Linn’s Travis Griffith has a 15-year career record of 333-190 with an 11-year record of 277-165 with the Lynx. He coached three seasons at Highland. Martensdale-St. Marys’ Jon Fitzpatrick, in his sixth season with the Blue Devils, has a seven-year mark of 263-65 which includes two years at Van Meter. Don Bosco’s Blaine Rhoads has a 201-37 slate.
TOWER POWER: Lisbon’s offense leads the tournament with a team batting average of .423 and a slugging percentage of .637. The Lions have 401 hits, with 129 going for extra bases (79 doubles, 26 triples and 24 home runs). Newman Catholic leads the field with 452 runs, 25 home runs and 376 RBIs. North Linn has the class lead in hits with 414, and 164 steals in 172 attempts.
KING OF THE HILL: North Linn’s mound corps headline a stingy defense. They have recorded an all-time Iowa and national best 24 shutouts en route to 40 wins, and they have allowed a class-best 42 runs (22 earned) and an ERA of 0.59. They have given up a tourney-best 53 bases on balls while recording 293 strikeouts, 10 fewer than tourney leader St. Albert. Seven pitchers have a decision, with five claiming six or more wins — Ryan Miller (9-0), Jake Hilmer (8-2), Nate McEnany (7-0), Trevor Boge (6-0) and David Seber (6-1).
OF NOTE: North Linn’s Jake Hilmer and Ryan Miller have moved into Iowa’s all-time leads and lists. Heading into the tournament, Miller has the career lead in steals at 218, while Hilmer, a junior, is fourth with 176. Hilmer currently has the lead in runs scored with 278 while Miller ranks third with 261. Hilmer has 274 career hits, one shy of being in a second-place tie and 17 from taking over the all-time lead.
ENROLLMENTS: To determine the classification of each school, the IHSAA uses the official state certified BEDS enrollment figures for grades 9 thru 11 for the 2016-17 school year. The smallest Class 1A qualifier is Remsen St. Mary’s (53) while the largest qualifier is North Linn (154).
THE TOURNAMENT: This is the 73rd season for the state summer baseball tournament, which has been in four classes since 1981. It is also the 91st state tournament series that started in the spring of 1928. This is the 14th year for the four-class tournament at Principal Park. In the previous 13 years at Principal Park nearly 397,020 fans have supported their teams. Attendance since 1997 is over 535,000 going into this year’s games.
Team and Individual Stat Leaders are on QuikStats Iowa
Fans and coaches can go to the Baseball QuikStats page and find the tab that says 2018 State Baseball. Click on that and select the class you want, then select “Load List” and team stats for the state qualifiers will be displayed. To view individual stats, click on individual season stats, select the class you want to view in the “2018 State” tab, then hit load list and all individual stats for the eight tournament teams or individuals will be displayed. You can sort that list by clicking on the stat category of hitting, pitching or fielding.
Thanks to Bud Legg of the IHSAA for providing this information.