The substate results nixed the 2018 state tournament hopes of six ranked in the Iowa High School Baseball Coaches Association Class 4A Top 10. However, the top two clubs — top-ranked and defending champion Johnston and second-ranked Urbandale — survived. Eighth-ranked Waukee and 10th-ranked Valleys also made the Elite Eight.
BACK FROM 2016: The tournament field has only Johnston, Waukee and Cedar Rapids Washington coming back from the 2017 pairings. All of the eight teams have appeared before in the tournament.
THEY’VE WON TITLES: Five of the eight qualifiers have taken home 19 championship trophies. In addition to defending champion Johnston, a four-time champion, Valley has won six titles with the last in 2006; Marshalltown has won five with the last coming in 2002; while Urbandale (2000 and 2007) and Cedar Rapids Washington (1966 and 1994) each have won twice.
ROOKIE STATE MENTORS: Co-coaches at North Scott, Brad Ward and Travis Ralfs, will be making their tournament debut.
CIML, MVC, MAC or WAMAC? The eight qualifiers hail from the three largest 4A leagues in the state, plus WaMaC sensation Western Dubuque who joins the Mississippi Valley Conference in the fall. A representative from the Central Iowa Metropolitan League or the Mississippi Valley Conference have won each of the last eight. The last Class 4A champion from the Mississippi Athletic Conference was Davenport West in 1987. A current CIML school has won 15 of the last 18 championships.
BIG WIN COACHES: Five of the coaches have accumulated more than 200 career wins. Marshalltown’s Steve Hanson leads this year’s group with a 591-536 record. Western Dubuque’s Casey Bryant has a 496-255 mark. Waukee’s Dave Dirkx brings a 19-year slate of 489-195 to Principal Park. Dirkx, as a prep, shares a state championship game record of 4 hits which he collected for Storm Lake St. Mary’s in 1993. Valley’s Ryan Cooley is currently 378-208, while Michael Barta at Johnston has a 176-69 record. The group has combined to win six titles — Barta (2013, 2017 at Johnston); Cooley (2005, 2006 at Valley), Dirkx (2003 at Carlisle), and Hanson (2002 at Marshalltown).
WIN STREAKS: The parity in Class 4A is seen in the longest current win streaks. Johnston and Urbandale each have won their last seven to lead the field. The Dragons have claimed wins in 21 of their last 22 games, while the J-Hawks have won 10 of their last 11.
BACK AT PRINCIPAL: All of the eight teams have a state tournament history and have played in Principal Park, with five appearing since 2015. Marshalltown returns for the first time 2009, while Western Dubuque last came to the tournament in 2012 and Valley last appeared in 2014.
BEST ON OFFENSE: Johnston’s offensive surge is seen in its numbers. The Dragons’ torrid .392 batting average leads the class as does their 342 runs, 422 hits, 120 extra-base hits that include a high of 82 doubles and 20 triples; and 310 RBIs. Valley has 20 home runs (two more than Johnston). Urbandale is second in batting average with .340, 77 doubles and 108 extra-base hits, while topping the steals chart with 148 in 155 attempts. Cedar Rapids Washington is second with a .330 batting average with a second-best in hits with 375.
KINGS OF THE HILL: Urbandale’s pitching staff leads the eight schools, allowing just 177 hits, an ERA of 1.82 and an opponent’s batting average of .188. Their 258 strikeouts are third to Western Dubuque’s 357 and Johnston’s 263. Waukee has issued a best of only 84 walks to 223 strikeouts and a second-best 2.22 ERA.
OFFENSIVE FIREWORKS: The 4A field has nine starting players hitting .400 or higher, led by Johnston junior Cade Moss with a sizzling .504 average. North Scott senior Tony Barreca is hitting .464. Western Dubuque sophomore Calvin Harris is the RBI leader with 51, followed by Urbandale’s Ben DeKruyf with 47, while Cedar Rapids Washington junior Joe McKinstrey, North Scott senior Brook Sunny and Urbandale senior Carter Troncin each have 43. Moss and Barreca are 1-2 with 64 and 58 base hits. The doubles leader is Western Dubuque freshman Sawyer Nauman with 19, while Harris leads with 9 triples and 8 round trippers. Harris also leads with 27 extra-base hits and .822 slugging percentage, followed by Johnston senior Drew Beazley at .797 with 25 extra-base blows including 7 home runs. Urbandale’s Chris Miller and Brook Heinen top the base stealing leaders with 35 and 31 respectively.
STRONG ARMS: Four hurlers enter the tournament with 9 wins — Western Dubuque junior Sam Goodman, along with Urbandale senior Luke Llewellyn and Johnston senior Sean Nussbaum at 9-0. Marshalltown senior Nate Vance is 9-2. Goodman and sophomore teammate Calvin Harris are the strikeout leaders with 110 and 93 respectively. Goodman has issued only 9 walks in 70.3 innings of work and leads pitchers with 48 or more innings with a 0.60 ERA. Waukee senior Drew Irvine (8-1) enters the tournament with a 0.90 ERA.
ENROLLMENTS: The IHSAA uses the official state certified BEDS enrollment figures for grades 9 thru 11 for the 2015-16 school year for the placement of a school in a class. In Class 4A the top 48 schools have battled for a tournament slot. Valley is the largest school in the field with 2,176 students while Western Dubuque is the smallest with 708.
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.