116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Iowa high school baseball teams are returning to full strength with spring sports nearing a complete close. Here are some of the notable performances and results from last week and a look ahead at the games of interest this week.
Center Point-Urbana on point early
Center Point-Urbana has garnered attention with its early-season performances. The Stormin’ Pointers are 7-2, winning their first six games. These weren’t just ho-hum victories, either. CPU opened the season with a 12-4 win over then-No. 7 Waverly-Shell Rock.
The Stormin’ Pointers followed that with a win over Alburnett sandwiched between conference sweeps of Benton Community and Williamsburg. They did suffer consecutive losses in a single game to Cedar Rapids Washington and the opener of a doubleheader split with Class 2A sixth-ranked Dyersville Beckman. CPU rebounded for a 5-2 win in the nightcap at Tom Jenk Field of Commercial Club Park in Dyersville.
Potent offense and solid pitching have propelled CPU. The Stormin’ Pointers rank second with 82 runs (more than nine a game) and have scored 11 or more in four games. They lead 3A teams with 23 doubles and their 67 hits are good for fifth overall in 3A. CPU pitchers are third in the class with 74 strikeouts and rank fifth in opponents’ batting average, holding foes to a .160 clip.
Senior Braylon Havel and junior Ben Hakert lead the way with 12 hits apiece. Hakert has a team-best 15 RBIs and five doubles.
Havel also spearheads the pitching staff. He is 2-0 with 24 strikeouts in just 11 1/3 innings pitched. He owns a 2.47 earned-run average with his victories coming against Benton Community and Williamsburg. In the 9-1 win over the Raiders, Havel struck out 14 and walked one in six innings.
CPU heads to 4A No. 9 Cedar Rapids Prairie for a non-conference game Wednesday.
Few teams had a tougher opening two days than Linn-Mar. The Lions faced returning 3A state finalist and previously second-ranked Dubuque Wahlert on opening day and then 3A No. 3 Cedar Rapids Xavier the very next day. They were swept in both and Wahlert and Xavier have moved to first and second, respectively, in the latest Iowa High School Baseball Coaches Association rankings.
Linn-Mar has rebounded with four straight wins heading into a Mississippi Valley Conference doubleheader at Cedar Rapids Jefferson. The Lions are fresh off Friday’s sweep of Dubuque Hempstead, which was ranked seventh and now is in the “received votes” group of 4A teams. The Lions won, 12-7 and 8-4, after wins over Anamosa and a split with Benton Community.
Henry Read, McKade Jelinek and Gavin Johnston each had three hits in the opener against Hempstead. Jelinek had three RBIs as well. Interestingly, in the nightcap, the Lions scored eight runs on just five hits. They did draw four walks and one reached on an error. Still, eight of 10 batters that reached scored. That’s an efficient rate. Manny Weiss added a five-hit complete game for the win.
Clear Creek Amana Clippers surge
Clear Creek Amana is 5-0, entering a home twin bill with Maquoketa Tuesday night. The Clippers record isn’t even as impressive as how they have reached it. Clear Creek Amana is averaging 15 runs a game, including 17-7 and 11-1 victories over defending state champion Marion last Tuesday.
Clear Creek Amana followed that with 15-0 and 23-0 drubbings of Vinton-Shellsburg. The Clippers lead the state in team batting average (.479) and they debuted in the IHSBCA 3A rankings this week at No. 6.
Ben Swails ranks among 3A leaders with .733 batting average and .800 on-base percentage, tallying 11 hits in 15 at-bats. Swails also leads the team with 12 RBIs. Sam Young has allowed just nine runs in 10 innings (seven to No. 4 Marion) and five other pitchers have combined to allow one run in 17 innings. Young owns a 2.80 ERA.
Looking ahead: Games to watch
Here are some intriguing matchups this week:
Tuesday: Monticello (2-0) at Cascade (3-0). Both teams are off to a strong start. This could be a key game in the River Valley Conference North standings, which will include Camanche and Anamosa. The Cougars have outscored opponents 30-4 in three games. The Panthers beat their first two foes by a combined 21-0. Monticello hosts 1A No. 3 North Linn (5-0) and Cascade travels to Camanche the next day.
Wednesday: Solon (5-4) at 3A No. 2 Xavier (7-2). These two teams produced an entertaining substate final last year that Xavier won at Solon. The Spartans were ranked eighth in 3A in the preseason, while Xavier was near the top after reaching the 2021 state semifinals. Both teams are talented and have state caliber teams. Alex Neal powers the Saints, while Blake Timmons and Brett White are one of the most dynamic 1-2 punches.
Thursday: 3A No. 6 Clear Creek Amana (5-0) at 3A No. 8 Independence (5-1). The Clippers are trouncing teams so far, including defending state champion Marion. The Mustangs are coming off a sweep of Solon (4-3 and 8-7) and a split with West Delaware, which crept into the rankings with an 8-1 mark.
Friday: 3A No. 1 Dubuque Wahlert (8-1) at 3A No. 10 West Delaware (8-1). Wahlert is a bona fide state title contender. West Delaware has been a pleasant surprise, splitting with a ranked Independence team and beating Sergeant Bluff-Luton. The Hawks have a win over returning 1A state finalist and highly-ranked Lansing Kee as well.