Taking a Closer Look at Area Baseball Teams

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Photo by Jeff Yoder

Ryan Murken

Your Prep Sports

City High

Coach: Brian Mitchell (7th season)

Assistant coaches: Bart Sueppel, Zach Kenyon

Last season: 29-13

Returning starters: Travis Reyhons, Sr., SS; Cole Milder, Sr., OF; Jacob Dykes, Sr., UTIL

Other returning letterwinners: Ben Parker, Sr., 1B; Evan Jones, Sr., P/INF; Tanner Slauson, Sr., OF; Quenton Max, Sr., P/INF

Newcomers to watch: Liam McComas, Jr., C; Sam Lewers, Jr., INF; DJ Heck, Jr., OF; Cade Hanrahan, Jr., INF

Headliner: Senior shortstop Travis Reyhons is the top returning hitter for the Little Hawks after tying for the team lead a year ago with 50 hits while batting .360 with 48 runs and 31 RBI.

Keep an eye on: Senior Jacob Dykes hit. 294 with 15 RBI in 51 at bats and had a 1-2 record in 14 1/3 innings pitched last season in part time duty but should be in for a much bigger role this season.

Circle the date: June 7 at West High. The first of two meetings between the cross-town rivals comes at West High where the Little Hawks won 8-1 last season.

Breakdown: City High has some holes to fill with the departure of a strong senior class but returns three starters from a squad that won 29 games and lost to Linn-Mar in the substate finals.

Reyhons headlines the list of returning starters after leading the Little Hawks in hits a year ago while Milder batted .300 in 80 at bats as a junior.

Dykes should take a step forward in an every-day role this season while juniors Liam McComas and DJ Heck appear ready to step into big roles at the top of the City High lineup.

The key for City High will be developing pitching with the loss of its top three hurlers from a year ago.

Senior Quenton Max is the top returner after posting a 5-1 record and 4.17 ERA in 40 1/3 innings as a junior.

West High

Coach: Charlie Stumpff (25th season)

Assistant coaches: Jesse Searls, Jamie O’Meara

Last season: 32-9 (Class 4A Semifinals)

Returning starters: Braden Houston, Sr., P/INF; Jason Strunk, Jr., OF; Jack Wilson, Sr., P; Lucas Karwal, Sr., C; Connor Greer, Sr., P/INF; Austin West, Sr., P/OF

Other returning letterwinners: Jayson Barnes, Sr., P/INF; Trevor Byers, Sr., P/OF; Austin Curtiss, Sr., P/1B; Alex Granner, Sr., OF; Carter Johnson, Sr., C; Alex Schwickerath, Sr., INF; Tyler Stern, Sr., P/1B; Logan Trumbull, Sr., C.

Newcomers to watch: Noah Aanestad, Jr., P/INF; Nick Biancuzzo, Jr., P/INF; Chase Calderwood, Jr., P/OF; Ryan Cooper, Jr., P/C; Nick Fleckenstein, Jr., INF; Ian Gluesing, Jr., 1B; Casey Marvin, Jr., P/INF; Owen McAreavy, Jr., 1B; Zac Moore, Jr., P/OF; Mason Sorge, Jr., OF; Alex Swack, Jr., P/1B; Nate Wilkinson, Jr., P/3B; Marcus Morgan, Fr., P

Headliner: Senior pitcher Braden Houston was a first-team all-state pick a year ago after going 9-1 with a .89 ERA in a team-high 63 innings.

Keep an eye on: Junior Jason Strunk is already a two-year starter and is poise to build on a junior season in which he hit .350 with five home runs and 25 RBI.

Circle the date: June 18 vs. Cedar Rapids Jefferson. The MVC Mississippi Division title could be on the line when the preseason eighth-ranked J-Hawks come to West High.  

Breakdown: The Trojans are seeking a fifth consecutive state tournament trip after reaching the state title game three of the past four seasons.

West High must rebuild the top half of its lineup after losing its top three hitters from a year ago to graduation but returns a strong pitching rotation and plenty of experienced hitters to make another 4A title run.

Houston will anchor a pitching staff that includes Jack Wilson (4-1, 1.17 ERA), Connor Greer (4-2, 3.66 ERA) and senior closer Austin West (2-0, 1.08, 3 saves).  

Strunk and senior Lucas Karwal will be the anchors in a new-look West High lineup. Karwal hit .314 with 15 RBI in a limited role last season while Houston hit .312 with 19 runs and 14 RBI.

Liberty High

Coach: Tom Cronk (1st season)

Assistant coaches: Brent Kimm, Jacob Nielson, Uby Martinez, Tommy Smith

Last season: N/A

Newcomers to watch: Tyler White, Jr., OF/INF; Nolan Frey, Soph., P/OF; Sam Funke, Soph., C/P; Jonah Warren, Soph., P/INF; Keian Secrist, Fr., P/INF

Circle the date: July 9 at City High. The first meeting between City High and Liberty comes in the regular season finale.

Breakdown: Liberty High will make its varsity debut this season under the direction of first-year head coach and long-time West High assistant Tom Cronk.

The Lightning face a daunting schedule that features some of the top teams in eastern Iowa with a roster made up entirely of underclassmen.

Clear Creek Amana

Coach: Brent Henry (6th season)

Assistant coaches: Nick Boeset, Kobey Schlotman, Chris Hoeg, Lee Hansen, Tyler Hallett

Last season: 18-20

Returning starters: Cody Ogden, Sr., SS/P; Camden Armstrong, Sr., 1B/3B/P; David Jensen, Sr., C/INF/P; Jordan Wolfe, Sr., OF; Camden Smyka, Jr., INF/P; Tyler Schrepfer, Soph., OF; TJ Bollers, Fr., C/OF

Other returning letterwinners: Alex Goedken, Sr., INF/P; Mike Upton, Sr., 1B/3B; Grant Jensen, Soph., INF/OF/P

Headliner: A three-year starter, David Jensen is poised for his best season yet as a starter. Jensen hit .287 and scored a team-high 30 runs while also pitching 36 innings a season ago.  

Keep an eye on: Freshman TJ Bollers already has a season of varsity experience under his belt after starting as an eighth grader and is ready for a breakthrough season. Bollers hit .257 with two home runs and 14 RBI a year ago.

Circle the date: June 14 vs. Solon. The Clippers should get a good gauge of where they stand when they host the WAMAC East Division favorite Spartans in a double header.

Breakdown: The Clippers have the returning talent to take a step forward after finishing 18-20 last season.

Clear Creek Amana must replace the unquestioned ace of its pitching staff in graduated senior Kobey Schlotman but brings back seven starters including two of its top four hitters from last season in Jensen and junior Camden Smyka (.306 BA).

Camden Armstrong returns after posting a 3-2 record and 2.15 ERA in 29 1/3 innings and will join senior Cody Ogden (2-5, 3.47 ERA) and Jensen in the top half of a balanced Clipper rotation.

Solon

Coach: Keith McSweeney (19th season)

Assistant coaches: Todd Linderbaum, Tim Wheeler

Last season: 27-14

Returning starters: Luke Ira, Sr., SS/P; Tyler Linderbaum, Sr., 1B/3B/P; Kendrick Harris, Sr., CF; Cam Miller, Soph., P/3B; Payton Bandy, Sr., 2B; Eric Weetman, Sr., P; Zach Wegmann, Sr., C/1B/DH; Spencer Wegmann, Sr., LF/P; Adam Bock, Jr., C/RF

Other returning letterwinners: Ryan Geistkemper, Jr., P/OF; Jackson Pipolo, Jr., OF; Trevor Schuchmann, Jr., P

Newcomers to watch: Chris McSweeney, Jr., INF

Headliner: Ira is a first team all-state pick and South Dakota State recruit that ranked third in the state with 71 hits a year ago while batting .511 with six home runs and 39 RBI.

Keep an eye on: Sophomore Cam Miller emerged as the ace of the Solon staff a year ago posting an 8-0 record and .67 ERA in 62 2/3 innings and has upped his velocity during the offseason.

Circle the date: June 29 at Marion. Two of the top teams in Class 3A clash in a WAMAC doubleheader that is a rematch of last year’s Substate 4 final.

Breakdown: Solon came up a win shy of second consecutive state tournament appearance but has the talent up and down its roster to return to Principal Park for the third time in five seasons this summer.

The Spartans return nine starters from a team that fell to Marion 4-3 in nine innings in the substate final.

Ira headlines a strong grup of experienced returners that includes senior Tyler Linderbaum (.346 BA), Kendrick Harris (.328), Zach Wegmann (32 RBI) and Payton Bandy (31 RBI).

Spencer Wegmann (21 runs) and Adam Bock (26 RBI) both return with a full season of starting experience under their belts.

Miller will headline a rotation that includes Ira (3-5, 3.29 ERA) and senior Eric Weetman (6-1, 2.96 ERA).

Regina

Coach: Jeff Pacha (4th season)

Assistant coaches: Steve Pacha, Riley Dixon, Brian Miller

Last season: 28-8 (Class 2A semifinals)

Returning starters: Ryne Schooley, Sr., P/OF; Blake Berns, Sr., UTIL; Trent Hoogerwerf, Sr., C; Nick Brandt, Sr., P/INF; Ryan Schott, Sr., UTIL; Jayden Kies, Sr., OF; Mitchell Gahan, Sr., P/INF; Hunter Liebergmann, Sr., INF; Evan Suchomel, Sr., OF; Masen Miller, Soph., INF/P.

Other returning letterwinners: Joey Molony, Jr., UTIL; Alex Meister, Soph., P.

Newcomers to watch: Jake Phillips, Sr., OF

Headliner: Senior catcher Trent Hoogerwerf earned all-state honors last season after leading the Regals with a .383 batting average and 44 hits while driving in 26 runs.

Keep an eye on: Blake Berns should be in for a huge senior season after hitting .374 and leading the Regals with six home runs and 44 RBIs last season.

Circle the date: June 4 at Wilton. The River Valley Conference South Division will likely be decided early when Regina travels to fifth-ranked Wilton for an early doubleheader.

Breakdown: Expectations are as high as every at Regina as virtually the entire roster returns from a team that won 28 games and reached the 2A state semifinals before falling to eventual champion Dyersville Beckman.

Five Regals return after hitting better than .300 a year ago led by Hoogerwerf and Berns who combined to drive in 70 runs a season ago.

Seniors Ryne Schooley (.361) and Jayden Kies (.314) are back after strong junior seasons along with Ryan Schott (27 RBI) and Mitchell Gahan (21 RBI).

Nick Brandt was 6-1 with a 1.43 ERA in 54 innings pitched last season as a junior and is part of a deep and talented Regina rotation.

West Branch

Coach: Rich Stout (10th season)

Assistant coaches: Brian Espensen, Sam Aspelmeier, Brad Arp, Brian Pierce

Last season: 7-18

Returning starters: Tanner Lukavsky, Soph., SS/P; Pete Espensen, Soph., RF/P; Trey Eagle, Soph., 3B/P; Matt Paulsen, Soph., 1B/OF/P; Ted Bridges, Jr., 1B/P; Brady Lukavsky, Jr., C/P; Cade Aspelmeier, Sr., 2B/SS/OF; Trevor Thein, Sr., OF; Jaden Hierseman, Jr., 3B/1B/P

Other returning letterwinners: Dom Giannini, Sr., OF; John Hatfield, Jr., 2B

Newcomers to watch: Brad Hunger, Soph., 1B/OF; Gavin Hierseman, Fr., SS/OF; Mitchell Knoop, Jr., OF; Matt Whaley, Soph., 2B/SS

Headliner: Tanner Lukavsky burst onto the scene a year ago leading the Bears with a .392 batting average, 16 runs and six extra-base hits.

Keep an eye on: Sophomore Pete Espensen ranked second on the team with a .364 average a year ago and led the Bears with 12 RBI and five doubles.

Circle the date: June 28 vs. Regina. The Bears host Regina in its final RVC home games of the season.

Breakdown: A strong group of young talent returns for veteran coach Rich Stout as the top four hitters for the Bears last season were all freshman.

Lukavsky and Espensen headline a group of four sophomores that hit better than .300 a year ago as freshman joining Trey Eagle (.319) and Matt Paulsen (.315).

In all nine starters return from a West Branch squad that won seven games last season.

The top three pitchers are all back for West Branch in Lukavsky, Eagle and junior Jaden Hierseman who threw a team-high 32 1/3 innings posting a 2-4 record and 4.98 ERA.

Lukavsky was 2-1 with a 2.66 ERA in 29 innings while Eagle went 2-4 with a 5.03 ERA in 23 2/3 innings or work.