Five rated teams by the Iowa High School Baseball Coaches Association survived the district and substate tournaments to advance to the 2018 state tournament in Class 2A. Qualifying are third-ranked Iowa City Regina, fifth-ranked Wilton, seventh-ranked Estherville-Lincoln Central, ninth-ranked Van Meter and 10th-ramked Alta-Aurelia.
RETURNING FROM 2017: Six teams that were in the 2017 2A state tournament return. A new champion and runner-up will emerge as Beckman Catholic and Kuemper Catholic lost in substate finals. Regina and Centerville, each a final four team last summer, return, along with Van Meter, Treynor, Estherville Lincoln Central and Denver. Two of the first-round matchups are repeats from last year — Regina vs Treynor and Centerville vs ELC.
FIRST-TIME COACHES: The eight qualifying teams have been in the tournament before, but only Ryan Burkhart of Alta-Aurelia will make his tourney debut. He is in his first season with the Warriors after being an assistant last year and previously coaching at Newell-Fonda for four seasons. Lee Evans from Estherville-Lincoln Central, Jeff Pacha from Regina and Ryan Hodges from Centerville each made their first appearance last summer.
FORMER CHAMPIONS: Three of the schools are former state champions. Centerville won 3A crowns in 1988 and 2008, while Wilton took home titles in 1993 and 2005. Van Meter was the 2003 Class 1A champion.
TOP WIN COACHES: Wilton’s Jake Souhrada comes to the tournament with a career record of 552-164. Treynor’s Bob Mantell has a 13-year record of 293-113 and Van Meter’s Mike Kennedy has a five-year mark of 142-36.
TEAM OFFENSE: Seven of the eight teams have a team batting average over .300, led by Regina, hitting at a .360 clip and a slugging percentage of .481, both tops in the class, as is their 16 jacks. The Regals have swiped 109 bases. Van Meter has a class-best 282 runs scored with 317 hits (second most). Treynor has the lead with 91 extra-base hits, including 70 doubles.
ON THE BUMP: Wilton’s pitching staff has sparkled with class bests of 108 hits allowed, an ERA of 1.16, 281 strikeouts and an opponent’s batting average of .134. Not far behind is Estherville Lincoln Central with an ERA of 1.60, 250 strikeouts and an opponent’s batting average of .174
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: The class has 14 hitters batting over .400 led by Alta-Aurelia sophomore Logan McCoy at .484. Treynor senior Dean Bedell is hitting .477 with a class-high 51 hits with 20 for extra bases and a .748 slugging percentage. ELC senior Trey Jacobson hits at a .475 clip for the Midgets. Denver freshman Bryce Phelps is hitting .462 and leads the class with 30 steals. ELC junior Briar Rowley is also batting.462. Denver junior Brock Farley has 21 extra-base hits including a class-best 11 home runs and .798 slugging percentage. He has 41 RBIs as does Treynor senior Justin Cox to lead that category. Wilton junior Jared Townsend leads the class in doubles with 17, while Centerville senior Dan Hargrave has laced a class-best six triples.
AT ARMS LENGTH: Alta-Aurelia senior Alex Snyders leads the class with an 11-0 record that features a 1.56 ERA with 122 strikeouts against 13 walks. Van Meter sophomore Anthony Potthoff has a 10-1 record with a 1.05 ERA. Wilton junior Jared Townsend is 8-2 with class bests 0.88 ERA and 124 strikeouts. He has allowed only 28 hits in 63.2 innings with the opposition hitting only .104. Three other hurlers have eight wins — Denver senior Zach Miller (8-1), Centerville senior Dan Hargrave (8-1) and Regina senior Mitchell Gahan (8-2)
BEST WIN CHAINS: Competition was keen in Class 2A this summer, where parity and playing up in class shortened some would-be win chains. The longest winning streak coming to Des Moines is 10 by Regina. Wilton has logged eight straight triumphs after a 5-3 to last year’s 3A champion, Assumption. Estherville Lincoln Central has won its last seven contests.
WIN PERCENTAGE: Six of the eight teams have recorded 20 or more wins and the eight teams combine for a win-loss record of 187-50 for a 78.8-win percentage.
SEEKING FIRST STATE TOURNAMENT VICTORY: Alta-Aurelia (0-3), Estherville Lincoln Central (0-3), Denver (0-3) each go in search of their first-ever state tournament win.
LONGEST HIATUS: Wilton is returning to the tournament for the first time since 2005 when they beat Clarinda, North Polk and Kuemper Catholic for the title. It was the inaugural year for the tourney at Principal Park. Alta-Aurelia returns to Des Moines for the first time since 2012 and a 1-0 loss to Davis County.
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 2A qualifier is Denver with 159 students and the largest in the class is Centerville with 298.
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.