Six of the area’s Class 1A and 2A schools kick off their post-season baseball road tonight when they compete in the first round of district baseball.
(Earlier this week, Riverside was eliminated with their 10-0 loss to Essex-South Page in a Class 1A pigtail game.)
Several of tonight’s games are part of doubleheaders, with contests at 5 and 7 p.m. at sites around western Iowa. Winners advance to the district semifinals on Tuesday, July 16, and a win would propel them to the district final on Saturday, July 20.
The substate final, with the right to advance to the state tournament, is Tuesday, July 23. The state tournament is July 26-Aug. 3 at Des Moines’ Principal Park.
Atlantic, in Class 3A, has the week off and will wait until Friday, July 19, to begin its post-season; a district preview will come closer to that game date.
Here’s what to expect from area teams:
• Top seed: Martensdale-St. Marys (30-6).
• Martensdale-St. Marys vs. Griswold (1-18), 7 p.m. today at Martensdale: The Tigers face obviously long odds against the tradition-rich Blue Devils, mutli-time state qualifiers and the 2017 runners-up. Carson Elbert (.0453) and Kasey Carter (0.407) lead an offense whose on-base percentage is 0.478. Esa Johanson has 33 RBIs. While the Blue Devils may go to their bullpen for a starter against the Tigers, they do have Isaac Gavin (7-0, 0.48 ERA, 51 strikeouts in 41-2/3 innings) as the top option. The Tigers will give it their best shot, as three players — Derek Mueller (0.375), Josh Brownlee (0.315) and Colton Turner (0.348) have above-.300 records. The pitching has been a concern, with a combined 11.74 ERA, and all four top pitchers having ERAs north of 10. The winner plays either Lenox or Murray July 16 in Martensdale.
• Top seed: Council Bluffs St. Albert (21-13).
• AHSTW (11-11) vs. Fremont-Mills (10-11), 7 p.m. today at Avoca: The Vikings have been streaky this season but come into the post-season with a four-game winning streak, all over Corner Conference teams and all by seven or more runs. Coach Jason Holst’s team bats a collective 0.312, led by Sam Porter’s 0.484 and 0.575 on-base percentage. Joey Cunningham has 23 of his team’s 84 stolen bases. Porter also leads the way in RBIs with 22, and is the team’s ace pitcher with a 6-2 record, 60 strikeouts and 2.60 ERA in 37-2/3 innings pitched. The Vikings have committed just 40 errors on the season. Fremont-Mills, the Corner Conference champions, has not won outside its conference, and in fact has only had two non-conference games go the full seven innings. Isaac Bateman’s 0.438 batting average is a team best, while Jacob Jenkerson has 17 RBIs. Jenkerson has an ERA of 4.10 in 29 innings of work, striking out 35. The winner will face either Council Bluffs St. Albert or Essex-South Page July 16 in Council Bluffs.
• Top seed: Southeast Warren (25-5).
• Audubon (11-13) vs. Earlham (8-18), 5 p.m. today at Anita: The Wheelers have a shot at breaking a three-game losing streak with a win over the Cardinals. The team, however, bats just a collective 0.234, led by Skyler Schultes’ 0.360 and Marcus Olsen’s 0.329. Ethan Klocke is one of four players with double-digit RBIs, having a team-high 18. Schultes, with his 1.86 ERA in 37-2/3 innings of work, is a candidate for starting, as could be Jackson Jensen (2.20 ERA in 35 innings of work and 53 strikeouts) or Klocke (2.63 ERA, 27 strikeouts in 32 innings). Earlham, meanwhile, bats just 0.214, with only Alex Caskey batting above 0.300 (he’s 0.304). John Humphrey and Trent Williamson each have 10 RBIs. Williamson is a likely starter, with his 1.63 ERA in 43 innings of works and 53 strikeouts, compared to giving up just 12 walks; opposing batters have been just 0.198 against Williamson.
• CAM (23-5) vs. Exira-EHK (10-11), 7 p.m. today at Anita: The Cougars have beaten the Spartans twice this season, but both were close: 5-2 on June 5 in Anita, and 9-6 June 24 in Elk Horn. The Cougars have some potent bats in the lineup, batting a collective 0.33, with No. 2 batter Lane Spieker going 0.429 and having an on-base percentage of 0.567. Mitchell Williamson has 30 RBIs while Colby Rich has 28. Williamson has been the man on the mound, going 5-2 on the year with an era of 2.20 and allowing just 17 walks against 32 strikeouts in 41-1/3 innings worked. Cole Burmeister leads the Spartan lineup with his 0.424 average, while Josh Pettepier batting in 23 runners. On the mound, it could be either Pettepier (3-2, 3.00 and 50 strikeouts vs. six walks in 37-1/3 innings) or Tyler Petersen (2-6, 2.44 and 36 strikeouts vs. 17 walks in 37-1/3 innings). Both defenses are pretty good with 46 errors for the Cougars and 45 miscues for the Spartans.
The winners of both District 15 games meet in the semifinals 5 p.m. July 16 at Milo.
• Top seed: Van Meter (28-3).
• Panorama (14-13) vs. ACGC (5-22), 7 p.m. today at Panora: The Chargers overcame a rough start of their season, having lost their first 17 games, but have come around with experience, winning four of their last six, including a nice 4-3 win over Exira-EHK. The Charger offense is still a concern, as they bat just a collective 0.196 batting average and on-base percentage of 0.315. Avery Wheatley leads with a 0.243 batting average and has batted home seven runs. Newell Rogers has a team-high eight RBIs. Will Byars leads the bullpen with his 2-5 record and 6.86 ERA in 33-2/3 innings pitched. A concern of the defense is giving up 108 stolen bases according to QuikStats Iowa. The Panthers — who defeated the Chargers twice this season — are led by five batters who are above 0.300, with Drew Taylor (0.448) and Evan Taylor (0.463) at team highs. Drew Taylor has 32 RBIs and three home runs, while Brice Taylor has 20 and two, respectively. Drew Taylor is 5-1 on the season, striking out 68 of the 191 batters he’s faced and compiling a 1.70 ERA in 45-1/3 innings of work.