Outfielders will have added pressure when the state high school baseball tournament begins Saturday morning in Des Moines. For the second straight year the tournament will be held at Principal Park and with the outfield fence at 335 feet down the lines and 400 to center there will be few home runs during the tournament.
Third ranked Sentral of Fenton will play Alburnett in one of Saturday’s 1A opening round games and coach Mike Elsbecker says his outfielders are used to covering a lot of ground. He says their home field is pretty deep so that if they play in the state tournament they would be used to a bigger field. Elsbecker says their field is 380 straightaway center and 315 feet down both lines.
Elksbecker feels the dimensions give outfielders a chance to be more aggressive. He says they can go after a ball and not be afraid to back down. Elsbecker says there are many players in 1A that can drive it that deep.
New London coach Mark Chiri says for the hitters it will be important to hit line drives. Chiri says the good teams all have outfielders that run like deer and can run down the long fly balls. He says they stress the need to not hit long flies, but line drives.
New London will play eighth ranked Lenox in the opening round and Chiri says regardless of the dimensions it will be a thrill for the players. He says it’s been 1000 degrees the last several days and it will be nice to play on a groomed field that’s well taken care of.
For many teams it will be their first chance to play in the home of the Iowa Cubs but that is not the case for Lenox. Tigers coach Steve Westphal says they played there in June and really like the opportunity.
Westphal says the outfielders made some adjustments and they’re looking forward to getting back to the stadium. He says the pitcher that will pitch Saturday pitched during the June game, so they’re ready to play. The tournament begins Saturday morning when top ranked Mason City Newman plays LeMars Gehlen.