Summer high school baseball started in 1946 making this year the 74th season for the IHSAA state summer baseball tournament, which has been in four classes since 1981. It is also the 92nd state tournament series that started in with the spring tournament in 1928. In the history of the summer tournament, 308 schools have qualified for the state baseball tournament. With games played at Principal Park, 179 schools have qualified. A total of 342 teams played this summer meaning 52 percent of the member schools will have played in Iowa’s best ballpark.
Principal Park: This is the 15th year for the four-class tournament at Principal Park. In the previous 14 years at Principal Park nearly 370,000 fans have supported their teams. Attendance since 1997 is over 545,000 going into this year’s games. The paid attendance through the first 14 years is 398,804 with the largest attended tournament coming in 2013 — 35,095. Seven of the 14 tournaments have attracted 30,000 or more paid admissions. Championship Saturday has generated 96,207 paid fans, with the largest being in 2005 — 9,181. Seven of the 14 crowds on Championship Saturday have topped 6,998 paid.
Play Ball: Through the 2018 state tournament, 1,142 state tournament games have been played. In the 14 years at Principal Park, 390 of the 392 state tournament weather has caused only two games to moved to area sites. The professional grounds crew of the I-Cubs led by Chris Schlosser have a sterling persistence of making sure Iowa kids have the best conditions possible.
State record correction: Due to an entry error, Bancroft St. John’s seven consecutive trips to the summer tournament (all under the late Gene Meister) was omitted. The trips (1982-88) place the Johnnies with the third-longest streak behind Newman Catholic’s 12 (in progress) and Harlan’s 8.
CLASS 2A NEWS AND NOTES
First-Time Qualifiers: Making their first trip to the summer state tournament are Des Moines Christian and New Hampton.
Three Rated Teams Qualify: The tournament series was rough on the Iowa High School Baseball Coaches ratings with only three 2A teams qualifying. No. 2 and top seeded North Linn (38-5) leads the trio. It is the fourth trip for the Lynx and their first appearance in 2A. Fifth-rated and second seeded Van Meter (31-3) returns for the seventh time. The Bulldogs were the 1A champions in 2003. Newcomer New Hampton (28-9) is ranked seventh and is the number three seed.
Taking Care of Business at State: Van Meter with a 6-5 state slate leads the 2A field with the most victories in state tournament action. North Linn seeks to improve on 2-3 state tournament record.
Top Winning Coaches: North Linn’s Travis Griffith is the winningest coach in the 2A field with a career slate of 372-196. This is his fourth state team. Cory McDonald of New Hampton has had stops at Tripoli and Waverly-Shell Rock and has a career record of 336-153. Underwood’s Andy Vanfossan has coached at Tri-Center, had three state tourney teams at Cherokee and has a career mark of 304-200. Derek Flack of Des Moines Christian coached previously at Independence and comes to the tournament with a 297-204 career record. West Sioux’s Brian Engelman has his fourth state team with a 176-96 career record.
Five First-Time State Coaches: Derek Flack of Des Moines Christian; West Branch’s Andy Lapel, Cory McDonald of New Hampton, Central Lee’s Shane Weirather and Van Meter’s Eben Baumhover join the state tournament coaching fraternity with their first team. Baumhover is in his first varsity position; Lapel, a 2003 graduate of Kee, played in three state tournaments and has moved through the coaching ranks after being the varsity coach at Colo-NESCO in 2007, Weirather started at Central Lee in 2015 with 6-15 season but has rebounded to improve his career mark to 73-59.
Previous Champs and a New Champ: Central Lee (2-1 in state games) won the 1989 3A crown and Van Meter with a 19-game win streak won the 1A crown in 2003. Centerville won the 2A title a year ago and has qualified in 3A. That opens the door for whoever can put three solid games together.
Team and individual statistics through the substate tournament can be found on the
IHSAA QuikStats page
ALSO: A look at the 2A field from Your Prep Sports