Breaking Down the Class 3A Baseball Tournament

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Photo by Jeff Yoder

Ryan Murken

Your Prep Sports

The Matchups

No. 3 Davenport Assumption (31-10) vs. Bondurant-Farrar (17-15)

The first of the Class 3A quarterfinals is a rematch of last year’s opening round contest won by Davenport Assumption 12-2 in five innings.

The defending champion Knights enter the state tournament winners of 10 of their last 11 and seeking a fourth title game appearance in the past six seasons.

No team in state history has won more games (34) or more titles (10) at the state tournament than Assumption which is an astonishing 34-5 in 15 trips to state.

Assumption boasts a strong and deep pitching staff with four players with sub-2.00 ERAs in more than 35 innings of work.

Bondurant-Farrar lost eight of its final 10 games but rattled off three consecutive postseason wins including a 2-0 upset of ninth-ranked North Polk to return to the state tournament for the second consecutive season and fourth time in program history.

Seniors Tanner Bedier (7-2, 1.75)  and Quinn Waterhouse (6-3, 1.43) tossed back-to-back shutouts allowing seven total hits in postseason wins over North Polk and Oskaloosa that sent the Bluejays back to state.

No. 6 Sioux City Heelan (31-10) vs. No. 5 Solon (32-10)

A class matchup of strength against strength pits one of the top hitting teams in the state in Sioux City Heelan against a Solon squad that ranks fourth in Class 3A with a 1.98 ERA.

Solon has been impressive while return to the state tournament for the second time in three seasons.

The Spartans have won 13 of their last 15 games with loss to 3A No. 2 Cedar Rapids Xavier and 4A third-ranked Cedar Rapids Prairie the only blemishes.

Of the 10 losses for Solon six have come to either state tournament qualifiers or Class 4A competition and half of the Spartans’ losses have come by one run.

Solon will turn to sophomore ace Cam Miller (9-3, 1.07) to attempt to slow a Sioux City Heelan attack that leads 3A and ranks fourth in the state with a .388 average.

Miller has won each of his last four starts allowing just four runs on 10 hits while striking out 34 in 23 innings in those outings.

Solon has a lineup that can go toe to toe with any team in 3A.

Led by senior Luke Ira (.455) and his state-leading 19 home runs the Spartans have seven regular starters hitting over .300 and hit .330 as a team.

No. 4 Carlisle (33-7) vs. No. 7 Waverly-Shell Rock (33-7)

Two of the hottest teams in 3A clash in the opening round.

Waverly-Shell Rock enters with a 3A-leading 12-game winning streak after a 6-2 win over eighth-ranked West Delaware in the substate final.

The Go-Hawks are making their first state tournament appearance since winning the 2015 title with an 11-1 win over Harlan in the title game.

Waverly-Shell Rock doesn’t have the power numbers of its quarterfinal opponent makes up for it with speed.

The Go-Hawks have three home runs on the season, six less than any other team in the 3A field but lead 3A qualifiers in triples (12) and stolen bases (111).

Carlisle is back at state for the first time since falling to Harlan in the 2016 title game.

The Wildcats have won 12 of their last 13 and seven in a row entering Tuesday’s state quarterfinal and are hitting .395 and averaging 11 runs per game during that stretch.

Carlisle features on of the top players in the tournament in senior Nic McCay who is a .421 hitting with 15 home runs and 54 RBI and doubles as an ace pitcher with a 6-1 record and 1.65 ERA to go with 96 strikeouts in 46 2/3 innings.

No. 1 Harlan (31-3) vs. Boone (24-8)

Few teams in Class 3A have the state tournament pedigree of Harlan.

The top-ranked Cyclones rank in the top 10 in state history in state tournament appearances (18) and wins (21) and won the third title in program history in 2016.

Defending runner-up Harlan has played in the state title game each of the past three seasons and five times in the past 10 years.

Harlan has won 29 of its last 30 games after a 2-2 start to the season and has held opponents to one or zero runs seven times during its current 10-game winning streak.

The Cyclones boast a dynamic dup atop their pitching rotation with junior Brett Sears (9-1, 1.06) and sophomore Connor Bruck (8-0, 1.79)

Boone is back at the state tournament for the first time since 2015 courtesy of three consecutive postseason shutouts.

In three playoff wins Boone pitchers have allowed nine hits and struck out 27 in 19 shutout innings.

The Cyclones have given up just one run in the last 33 innings enter Tuesday’s state quarterfinal.

The Faces

DAVENPORT ASSUMPTION: Sophomore Seth Adrian leads a balance Knight lineup with a .378 average and three home runs and has driven in 22 runs.

BONDURANT-FARRAR: A first team all-state pick a year ago senior Tanner Bedier has had another all-state season as a senior leading the Bluejays with a .430 average, 21 runs and 15 doubles and posting a 7-2 record and 1.75 ERA in 48 innings.

SIOUX CITY HEELAN: The Crusaders lead Class 3A with a .388 team batting average and senior right fielder Hunter Hope has been a big part of it, hitting a team-best .478 with five home runs and 63 RBI.

SOLON: A five-year varsity starter Luke Ira has closed his career with a bang. The South Dakota State recruit is hitting .455 with 58 RBI and 64 runs and leads the state with 19 home runs.

CARLISLE: Among the best players in the state senior Nic McCay is hitting .421 with 15 home runs and 54 RBI and owns a 6-1 record and a 1.65 ERA and has struck out 96 in 46 2/3 innings.

WAVERLY-SHELL ROCK: Seniors Luke and Ryan Willis are the engine that drives the Go-Hawk attack. Both are hitting .388 and have combined for 84 runs, 55 RBI and 48 stolen bases.

HARLAN: The biggest bat in a high-powered Harlan offense belongs to senior first baseman Ryan Doran who leads the Cyclones in batting average (.453), home runs (7), doubles (18) and on-base (.579) and slugging percentage (.907).

BOONE: Senior Evan Appenzeller is the key for the Toreadors on the mound (9-3, 2.45 ERA) and at the plate (.398, 9 HR, 29 RBI).

The Favorite

The 3A field is a whos who of recent state tournament regulars.

Every team to reach a 3A final in the last three seasons (Assumption, Harlan, Carlise and Waverly-Shell Rock) is in the field.

Harlan enters top-ranked and winners of 29 of its last 30 games while defending champion Assumption earned the top seed after winning 31 games against a schedule that nine state qualifiers and 25 4A opponents.

Those two teams have been the class of the 3A field of late with Assumption reaching the title game three times in the past five years while Harlan has played for four of the last seven titles.

The Forecast

Seedings point toward a title game rematch with defending champion Assumption and last year’s runner-up Harlan earning the top two seeds.

Solon and Carlisle are among the list of qualifiers capable of stopping a title game rematch from happening.

Solon must get past hot-hitting Sioux City Heelan in the quarterfinals while Carlisle faces a tall task in Waverly-Shell Rock but both teams feature a pair or top line starting pitchers that make them capable of reaching the title game.

Solon hasn’t reached the title game since 2011 and Sioux City Heelan hasn’t played for a championship since 2005.

The Focus

Will there be a title game rematch in Class 3A?

3A is the only class that still offers the opportunity for a championship rematch and plenty of people expect Harlan and Davenport Assumption to make that possibility a reality. 

Assumption won its 10th title and second in four seasons with a 10-1 win over Harlan last season.

The Cyclones won the crown in 2016 and were second to Waverly-Shell Rock In 2015.

Four other teams in the 3A field are ranked in the top eight, fourth-ranked Carlisle, No. 5 Solon, sixth-ranked Heelan and No. 7 Waverly-Shell Rock. Each of those teams are capable of throwing a wrench into the rematch plans.

Five Fast Facts

*Three of the top four home run hitting teams in the state are in the 3A field. Solon leads the state with 40 homers, Carlisle is second with 34 and Boone is third with 25.

*Sioux City Heelan senior Jackson Jackson Boever can hit his way on base, evident by a .419 average but no one in the state saw ball four more than Boever who drew a state-high 43 walks.  

*Waverly-Shell Rock is 7-0 in one-run games this season.

*Over the last four games Solon senior Luke Ira is hitting .642 (9-of-14) with three home runs, 10 RBI and seven runs scored.

*Davenport Assumption is 14-1 all-time in state tournament openers.

The Schedule

Tuesday’s Quarterfinals

Davenport Assumption (31-10) vs. Bondurant-Farrar (17-15), 11 a.m.

Sioux City Heelan (31-10) vs. Solon (32-10), 1:30 p.m.

Carlisle (33-7) vs. Waverly-Shell Rock (33-7), 5 p.m.

Harlan (31-3) vs. Boone (24-8), 7:30 p.m.

Friday’s Semifinals

Davenport Assumption/Bondurant-Farrar winner vs. Sioux City Heelan/Solon winner, TBA

Carlisle/Waverly-Shell Rock winner vs. Harlan/Boone winner, TBA

Saturday’s Championship

Semifinal winners, 5 p.m.