Six ranked teams in the Top 10 Iowa High School Baseball Coaches Association ratings survived the elimination games to make it to the 2018 state tournament. Back to seek the gold are two perennial powers — defending champion and third-ranked Assumption and top-ranked Harlan, who was the runner-up last summer. Also, qualifying is fourth-ranked Carlisle, fifth ranked Solon, sixth-ranked Bishop Heelan Catholic and seventh-ranked Waverly-Shell Rock.
BACK FROM 2017: The tournament field has four returning from 2017 — Assumption, Harlan, Bishop Heelan Catholic and Bondurant-Farrar. All of the eight qualifiers have played in the tourney in the past four years.
CHAMPIONSHIP PEDIGREE: Seven of the eight qualifiers have combined for an impressive 21 previous championships. Assumption has won a record 10 crowns in three different classes and in each of their last two appearances. Harlan has won three gold trophies and has been in six title games. Bishop Heelan Catholic, Boone and Solon each have won two titles, while Waverly-Shell Rock snagged the 2015 title and Carlisle annexed the 2003 2A championship.
HIGH WIN COACHES: Six of the coaches have accumulated more than 300 career wins, led by Harlan’s Steve Daeges with a 676-212 record. This is his 16th tournament squad. Assumption’s Billy Argo enters the tournament with a 537-201 mark and his 10th tourney team. His previous nine teams won five times and added three runners-up. Solon’s Keith McSweeney brings a 495-256 record to the tourney, Bishop Heelan’s Andy Osborne has a 21-year career slate of 347-244, while Bondurant-Farrar’s Brad Hamilton has a 25-year slate of 344-314 and Waverly-Shell Rock’s Casey Klunder has a 315-154 record.
CURRENT WIN STREAKS: Competition was sharp in 3A all summer. Waverly-Shell Rock has the longest current victory skein with 12 while Carlisle and Bishop Heelan have strung together wins in their last seven and six games respectively. The Wildcats have chalked up wins in 12 of their last 13 contests. Assumption has a three-game streak, but has 10 wins in its last 11 games.
SHORT HIATUS: All of the eight teams and coaches have been in the tourney recently. The longest break belongs to Boone and Waverly-Shell Rock, who last appeared in 2015. In fact, they met in the semifinals that year and the Go-Hawks went on to win the championship.
FLASHY RECORDS: Six of the teams come in with 30 or more wins. Collectively the field boasts a 232-70 record for a 76.8 win percentage.
OFFENSIVE TEAM LEADERS: Six of the eight teams have team batting averages of .303 or higher, led by Bishop Heelan with a .388 average. The Crusaders also top the charts with 387 runs and 442 base hits. Solon and Carlisle have slugging percentages of .531. The Spartans have ripped chart-topping 374 runs (tied with Carlisle), 320 RBIs 40 home runs and 85 doubles among their best of 136 extra-base hits. Carlisle has 34 bombs among 100 extra-base hits. Waverly-Shell Rock and Harlan are the top base thieves with 111 and 100 respectively.
MOUND STAFF: Assumption’s hurlers have authored a 2.26 ERA, second best among the eight teams and have 326 strikeouts fashioned mainly against 4A competition. Solon’s pitchers have an ERA of 1.98 and 328 strikeouts, each the best in the class with opponents’ batting average of .174, also tops. Carlisle and Harlan’s pitchers allowed 177 and 181 hits respectively, with Carlisle allowing a batting average of .189 and the Cyclones allowing a .216 clip.
HITTERS PARADE: Seniors Luke Ira of Solon and Hunter Hope of Bishop Heelan each come into the tournament with 65 hits, followed by Bishop Heelan senior Colin Kasperbauer with 60 and Carlisle’s Nate Mortimer with 58. Hope leads the 3A field with a .478 batting average followed by Ira at .455 and Mortimer at .453. Hope and Ira lead the RBI list with 63 and 58 respectively. Ira has blasted a class-best 19 home runs and 34 extra-base hits. Harlan senior Ryan Doran has a best of 18 doubles, one more than Hope, who has five triples to share the lead with Waverly-Shell Rock’s Kaden Dewey. Ryan Willis of Waverly-Shell Rock and Carlisle’s Max Goodhue are the leading base stealers with 28 and 25 respectively.
HILL TOPPERS: Three pitchers have recorded 9 wins in Class 3A — Harlan junior Brett Sears is 9-1, while Solon sophomore and Boone senior Evan Appenzeller each have 9-3 records. Sears and Miller have the best ERAs for those who have pitched 50 or more innings. Sears is at 1.06 and Miller at 1.07. Sears is the top strikeout pitcher with 100, with Carlisle’s Nic McCay registering 96. Miller has allowed 33 hits and Sears 35.
ENROLLMENTS: The IHSAA uses the official state certified BEDS enrollment figures for grades 9 thru 11 for the 2015-16 school year for placement of a school in a class. Waverly-Shell Rock is the largest school in the field with an enrollment of 538 students, while Assumption is the smallest with 314.
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.