116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
They have nicknamed themselves the Wounded Wolves.
The modified moniker fits Marion well.
The defending Class 3A state champions have endured injuries, illnesses and inconveniences but they are still 11-5 after a doubleheader split with Williamsburg Monday. The Wolves are ninth in the current Iowa High School Baseball Coaches Association rankings, entering Thursday’s Wamac Conference doubleheader at 2A No. 5 Dyersville Beckman.
“We keep adding stuff,” Marion Coach Steve Fish said with a laugh when he mentioned the team has added homeless and sick to the wounded adjective. “We’ve had all these things that we’ve dealt with.
“We still have high aspirations. It’s just been very difficult for a lot of different reasons.”
One of the inconveniences this season is the lack of a true home field. Renovations to the Marion baseball field surface haven’t gone as planned and it wasn’t ready for this season. The Wolves have had to practice at Prospect Meadows and play home games at Mount Mercy’s Plaster Athletic Complex. It has limited time to work with players, as a team and individually.
“It just goes on,” Fish said. “It’s been one of those things. I don’t expect anyone to feel sorry for us, though.”
Injuries have plagued many of the players. Jake Trca has missed most of the season. Sophomore outfielder Trey Franck has played in less than half of the games. All-state pitcher Boede Rahe has only seen two mound appearances this season due to injury, posting a 1-0 mark. All-stater Myles Davis and Jaqson Tejada have each missed games and a handful of others have played through aches and bruises.
Add in the fact that catcher Kaden Frommelt missed action due to food poisoning against Benton Community when the team was already short-handed and it seems like Murphy’s Law has ruled at times.
“Adversity usually makes you stronger,” Fish said. “We did have a good practice Wednesday, I feel.”
Fish noted that three players left practice and had to go to physical therapy. Some players were injured within the first week or two of the season. Fish said many were soft-tissue ailments and wondered if the earlier start, shortened preseason and condensed schedule has contributed to the situation with kids physically not ready for intense competition immediately.
“The state really needs to do something,” Fish said. “It’s a recipe for injury.”
Marion has managed success. Cael Hodges, Frommelt and Jake Miller lead the Wolves with 22 hits apiece. Miller and Frommelt share a team-best .478 batting average. Hodges hits .415 and is tops with 29 runs.
Frommelt has powered the Wolves, leading the team in doubles (eight) and RBIs (23). Of his 22 hits, 14 have been extra-base hits, including four home runs and two triples. The junior has been forced to embrace a leadership role, especially with all of the setbacks to starters this season.
“We nickname him the mayor anyway,” Fish said. ”He’s been that kid that’s gone from quiet one behind the plate to one of our (vocal) guys. … He’s been an anchor back there for us.”
The one silver lining is the playing time younger players are receiving. Fish has been able to get a look at the talent in the wings and get a glimpse of the future. Many have taken advantage of the opportunity.
“We still try to have a little fun,” Fish said. “Young guys are stepping in. They’re getting experience.”
Marion will host Burlington and Davenport Central for its annual Terry Heald tournament, which is named after the former Marion baseball coach, Saturday at Mount Mercy. The Wolves will hold their “Strikeout Cancer” wooden bat game against Burlington at 10 a.m.
Independence has won seven of its last nine games. The 3A eighth-ranked Mustangs toppled No. 3 Cedar Rapids Xavier, 14-6, Tuesday at home, improving their record to 14-6 overall. They are 11-3 in the Wamac Conference as well.
Independence rapped 18 hits and matched its second-highest single-game run total this season. Five Mustangs had multiple hits. Marcus Beatty led the way, going 4-for-5 with three runs and two RBIs. Mitchell Johnson, Korver Hupke and Teegan McEnany had three hits apiece. Johnson and Keegan Schmitt each drove in three runs. Hupke had two RBIs and his first home run of the season.
Offense has been a key to success. The Mustangs have scored double-digit runs six times, averaging 6.2 per game. They have scored 16 twice and 14 three times. Independence has a total of 117 hits, including 39 extra-base hits with 25 doubles and seven home runs. Beatty leads the team with 27 hits, while Hupke has a team-high 16 RBIs. Schmitt is hitting .432 with a .528 on-base percentage.
The Mustangs have had success against Mississippi Valley Conference foes in the last week. Independence defeated Cedar Rapids Kennedy, 3-1, and 3A No. 4 Dubuque Wahlert, 1-0, on June 7 and 8.
According to Bound statistics, Solon sophomore Gehrig Turner leads the state in being hit by pitches. He has been plunked a whopping 18 times in 22 games. He has been hit three more times than Martensdale-St. Marys’ Logan Wearmouth, who is second.
Iowa City West’s Ryne Vander Leest is tied for third overall and leads 4A with 14 hit by pitches.