The state high school baseball tournament opens a week long run in Principal Park on Saturday with the opening round in class 1A. After being part of the 2A field in 2005 top ranked Mason City Newman makes an 11th appearance in the state tournament by taking on LeMars Gehlen. Third ranked Sentral of Fenton will take on Alburnett.
Sentral is 40-3 and has not given up many runs as of late. In fact, the Spartans have given up more than three runs just once in their last 21 games.
Sentral coach Mike Elsbecker says they have three or four kids who really know how to pitch. He says the defense has been sound, so the pitchers know they can get outs by putting the ball in play and making the batter swing.
The Spartans lost in the first round of the tournament in 2005 and had a goal of getting back. Elsbecker says the kids felt they would be back since they returned all their starters. He says the parents and fans all talked about returning, and even though it hasn’t been automatic, he says it has been a goal.
Half of the 1A field is making its first appearance. That includes a New London team that takes a 25-5 record into a matchup against eighth ranked Lenox.
New London coach Mark Chiri switched over from softball to baseball and says after getting some 20-win seasons, he’s happy to see his team earn a state bid after coming up short the past few years.
This will be the fifth state tournament appearance for Lenox but their first since 1999. Lenox coach Steve Westphal says he thought they would get there last year or this year. Westphal knows enough about New London to expect a tough game.
Two other teams making their first appearance will meet when Avoca A-H-S-T tangles with Wall Lake View Auburn.