July 30, 2014

Defending champ Johnston upsets Waukee in 4A baseball opener

Johnston may have entered the state tournament as the eighth seed in class 4A but the Dragons are also the defending champions and they looked the part in the opening round. Johnston scored six runs in a decisive third inning enroute to an 8-3 victory over second ranked Waukee. Coach Michael Barta’s team will take a 23-16 record into the semifinals.

Johnston trailed 2-0 after two innings but the Dragons came alive and chased Waukee starter Matt Mullenbach in the third inning. He gave up six runs in two and a third innings. Waukee finished with eight hits and scored only once after the Dragons’ big inning.

Waukee coach Dave Dirkx who says Johnston is playing with the confidence of a defending champion. Waukee ends the season with a record of 35-5.


Class 3A features rallies and close plays at baseball tournament

Waverly-Shell Rock senior Dan Stensland made a number of big plays in the top ranked Go-Hawks’ first round victory in class 3A. Stensland opened the scoring with a two run single and came on in relief of starter Sean Westendorf to get out of a bases loaded jam in the top of the seventh in a 3-1 victory over Solon.

It is the first ever state tournament win for Waverly-Shell Rock. Stensland also started an inning ending double play from his spot at third base in the top of the fifth inning to preserve a 2-0 lead. He says it was a team effort on defense. “Balls were rocketed out into right field and center field and our guys did a great job of tracking those down and getting outs. Sean pitched a heck of game. He’s been huge for us this season, not only pitching, he had a couple of great hits. This is a huge team win for us and I can’t wait to come down here Friday and play again,” Stensland says.

Davenport Assumption held off a late rally by sixth ranked Harlan to post an 8-7 victory in the class 3A quarterfinals at the state baseball tournament. “Their team fought to the end and I’m sure they are proud of the way they played. Our team did also and we came out with a W,” Assumption coach Bill Argo said. The Knights led 7-1 before the Cyclones rallied. Harlan’s rally ended when the tying run was thrown out at the plate to end the game. “The throw was up the line a little bit and I think we kind of hesitated coming around third,” Harlan coach Steve Daeges said. He said he was proud of the way his team battled back.

A pitcher’s duel featured the Algona Bulldogs and Sergeant Bluff-Luton Warriors in the Class 3A state quarterfinals Tuesday night at Principal Park. The Warriors scored the go-ahead run in the bottom of the sixth inning and claimed a 2-1 victory. Cody Selig pitched a three-hitter and struck out 13 for second-seeded SBL. Weston Shaw pitched a five-hitter and struck out 10 for seventh-seeded Algona.

A pitcher’s duel and great defensive plays by both teams added up to a fantastic final Class 3A quarterfinal-round game Tuesday night at Principal Park. When it was over – and it took nine innings – sixth-seeded Dallas Center-Grimes posted a 3-0 win over third-seeded Fairfield.

The Mustangs got just one hit in the first eight innings, but pushed across three runs in the top of the ninth on one hit, one error, two walks, a stolen base and a sacrifice fly.


State baseball tourney opens with a no hitter

Senior Cole Jackson tossed a no hitter and struck out 15 batters as top ranked North Polk beat Maple Valley/Anthon-Oto 7-1 in a class 2A quarterfinal. Jackson says he tried to stay calm and not think about a no hitter during the game. “I checked the scoreboard very inning, but mainly to check my count. I just keep my focus up there, I didn’t really look at the hits as much, I just wanted to know what the count was,” Jackson says. “It turned into a fairy tale in the 7th inning there. I was like ‘Holy Cow’ we actually have this going on.”

Maple Valley/Anthon-Oto used two errors and a wild pitch to score their only run in the fifth inning.

Fifth ranked Roland-Story scored two runs in the first inning and two more in the second to down eighth rated South Winneshiek 4-1 in a class 2A quarterfinal round game. Roland-Story coach Chris Hill thinks tournament experience benefited his team. He says everything went really quick last year and now this year they are more prepared for what is happening and more relaxed.

South Winneshiek coach Ben Oberman is happy the seniors got to experience the state tournament. “It’s tough to say good-bye to them because they got us here for the first time in school history. They’ve paved the way for the next couple of years,” Oberman says.

Behind a four-run second inning, Dyersville Beckman Catholic began defense of its Class 2A title at the 2014 state tournament with a 6-3 victory over Hinton in the quarterfinals at Principal Park on Monday night. Second-ranked Van Meter rallied past Iowa City Regina 2-1


State baseball tournament gets underway

Second ranked Mason City Newman took advantage of two walks and a hit batter to score three runs in the opening inning enroute to a 7-1 victory over #7 BGM (Brooklyn) in the class 1A opener at the state high school baseball tournament.

The Knights are the defending 1A champs and coach Tony Adams feels that experience was an advantage. Adams says a demanding regular season schedule helps the Knights when they get to the state tournament.

BGM pitcher Zac Freese settled down after the first inning and only yielded five hits. The Bears hurt their own cause by committing five errors.

Upset featured in 2A softball semifinal

McKinley Moore’s two run triple capped a three run second inning as fifth ranked Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont stunned top ranked Highland (Riverside) 6-2 in a class 2A semifinal.”I was just looking for a good solid pitch to hit to get my confidence up and get going on what I know I should be doing since I haven’t been hitting too well,” Moore says.

The Rockets had 12 hits as they advance to the 2A title game. “We came into the whole tournament just knowing we are going to do this,” More said.

Highland hurt its own cause by committing five errors in losing for just the second time this season. “It’s never happened, I don’t know how to explain it, it didn’t happen all year, that’s probably the most errors we’ve had in a game this year. We’ve been beaten once…it just didn’t fall into place for us,” Highland coach Carrie Wieland says.

Taelor Williamson led off the bottom of the seventh with a solo homer to center as second ranked Earlham edged third rated Woodbury Central 3-2. The Wildcats had tied the game by scoring two runs in the top of the seventh. “It was amazing, I let that ball go by and they scored so it made me nervous, but after I hit it it felt real good,” Williamson says.

The Cardinals take a 30-4 record into the championship game.

Two years ago Lansing Kee was a struggling program. Now it is a win away from a state championship. The Hawks posted their second straight upset in class 1A. This one was a 3-1 victory over fourth ranked AGWSR. “Hard work can do anything, these girls have worked so hard,” Kee coach Elizabeth Hill says.


High school football players prepare for annual Shrine Bowl

Dozens of Iowa’s top high school football players are in the Cedar Valley this week preparing for the annual Iowa Shrine Bowl, which will be played at the UNI-Dome on Saturday.

This is the second year the Shrine Game has been played in Cedar Falls, and game General Manager Jerry Hoffman says the familiarity has made things run very smoothly. He says UNI officials know what they need to stage the practices and games after working with them the first year.

More than 90 players will compete in Saturday’s game. Some of them have signed on to play scholarship-level football in college, but according to North coach Toby Lorenzen of Central Lyon/George-Little Rock, many others haven’t thought much about football since last fall, while others have already been in the dorms and practicing.

Lorenzen says the challenge for the coaching staff is to get players from all over the state and a variety of programs on the same page in just a couple days of practice. He says it’s a matter of keeping it simple enough that everyone understands, but making it complex enough that it still looks like a regular game. While the game is an exhibition with the proceeds going to charity, Lorenzen says that fans will still be treated to a pretty competitive contest on Saturday.

The Shrine Game kicks off Saturday afternoon at 4:00 inside the UNI-Dome. You can visit IowaShrineBowl.org for team rosters and more information.

By Jesse Gavin, KCNZ, Cedar Falls

It’s semifinal day at the state softball tournament

The championship bracket resumes at the state softball tournament with the semifinal round in all five classes today. The opener is in class 2A as top ranked Highland of Riverside plays fifth ranked Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont. Highland beat Saint Ansgar in the opening round but coach Carrie Wieland says her team needs to do a better job with runners in scoring position. “Get the bunt down, push the bunt, do those things, make them make the errors,”Wieland says.

Second ranked Earlham plays third ranked Woodbury Central in the other 2A semifinal. In class 1A, fourth ranked AGWSR plays Lansing Kee while top ranked and defending champ Akron-Westfield plays number-six Martensdale-St. Mary’s. In 4A, top ranked Dallas Center-Grimes takes a 39-1 record against Norwalk. DCG coach Steve Schlafke says as the defending champions his team has used a different approach. “Last year it was just trying to get here and win the thing, and we tried two years in a row and it finally happened. This year it’s good teams will win it and great teams will win it twice,” Schlafke says.

Number three Solon plays fourth ranked Carlisle in the other 4A semifinal. The Class 5A semifinals are an all Central Iowa Metro League affair. Second ranked Dowling Catholic will take on third ranked Southeast Polk. Dowling pitcher Claudia Farrell says the Maroons are the defending champs in name only as there are only 4 players back who played last year. Farrell says they get every team’s best shot as the defending champs and that is motivation.

Southeast Polk edged sixth ranked Cedar Rapids Jefferson in the opening round and coach Tia Stiles says a tough regular season schedule had them prepared for the tournament. Top ranked Johnston will play fifth ranked West Des Moines Valley in the other 5A semifinal.

In class 3A, second ranked East Marshall will take on ninth ranked and defending champ Bondurant-Farrar. After losing all three games at the tournament a year ago East Marshall opened with a victory over Mid-Prairie. “We talked about it in the offseason, we had a bad taste in our mouths,” East Marshall coach Jary Hoskey says. Bondurant-Farrar coach Roger Roland says his team feels no pressure as the defending champs. “We just come we enjoy, we have fun, we have great kids. If we win it, God is good. If we lose it, God is good, no matter what it is a game to us. We’re thrilled when we win, and if we lose, we go out and eat pizza,” Roland says.

Third ranked Clarke plays Greene County in the other 3A semifinal. After finishing as the runner-up a year ago the Lady Indians are motivated to take the next step. “Most of the season we just wanted to get to state because we have six seniors…now that we are here, we just want to put runs on the board. We want Friday to get here,” according to senior outfielder Carley Robbins.

Clarke coach Lindsay Diehl admits the lofty goals for this year added pressure and they had to regroup halfway through the season as she said they had to talk about playing for today instead of thinking ahead to Fort Dodge. Now she says they can think about doing the work to win in the tournament.