After a tip from former C.R. Kennedy teammates, Matt Berst finds new baseball home with Iowa Hawkeyes

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CEDAR RAPIDS — Matt Berst wasn’t looking for something else. Something else just kind of fell upon him.

The Cedar Rapids Kennedy catcher announced Thursday afternoon he will play baseball at the University of Iowa, beginning this fall. Berst was all set to go to Illinois State, where he had committed last year.

Give an assist in this late recruiting flip to Hawkeyes players Zach Daniels and Sammy Lizarraga, who were former teammates of Berst at Kennedy.

“They were telling me they were in need of catching,” Berst said. “Just being an Iowa kid, that’s kind of your dream, to go to Iowa. So I contacted them, the opportunity was there, and it was too good to pass up. It was a tough decision, a very tough decision, going from a good (Illinois State) program with a top-notch coach in Bo Durkac. It’s just something I’m not going to pass up and am going to take.”

Berst said having his family near also played a big role in his decision. His parents and grandparents will have a better chance to watch him play now.

• Matt Berst exemplifies toughness of a catcher

He was a first-team Class 4A all-state catcher last season and hit a team-high .416 in 32 games this season for Kennedy, despite a separated shoulder incurred early prevented him from doing anything but be a designated hitter. Daniels and Lizarraga are pitchers for Iowa, by the way.

“I feel bad because it is late to make that call to a university you were pretty committed to,” Berst said of Illinois State. “But opportunities come and go, and you only live once. This is an amazing opportunity. I can’t thank Coach (Rick) Heller enough for giving it to me.”

l Comments: (319) 398-8259; jeff.johnson@thegazette.com

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