116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — Cedar Rapids Prairie has been streaky in a good way.
The Hawks opened the season with 10 straight victories and find themselves in the midst of another hot stretch.
Prairie has climbed to fifth in the latest Iowa High School Baseball Coaches Association Class 4A rankings and increased its current win streak to nine games with a 9-3 triumph Tuesday at Bettendorf. The Hawks improved to 21-3 overall, leading 4A in victories, and travel to Waterloo West Friday.
Sometimes cliches ring true and that is the case for Prairie.
“They show up and just take it one game at a time,” Hawks Coach James Nelson said. “They don’t look ahead at the next game or the next game (after that).”
Prairie has averaged 8.9 runs a game since dropping a doubleheader to No. 6 Iowa City High on June 11. The Hawks have only allowed 2.1 per contest during the same span. Getting shutout in two straight games with the Little Hawks served as a wake-up call that had dominated through the early season.
“They have responded well to it,” Nelson said. “It has turned into a positive. You have to show up each game.
“I’ll be honest, I got on them a little bit. It wasn’t about results. You have to go out and compete.”
Caden Richards (3-0) and Ryan Barnes (4-0) recorded two wins apiece to lead the way. Richards tallied 17 total strikeouts, including nine against Linn-Mar to spark the streak. Jackson Nove, a University of Kentucky commit, added a 10-strikeout performance against Western Dubuque.
“We’ve been able to roll out seniors (and juniors),” Nelson said. “Richards and Barnes have been phenomenal.”
Prairie displayed its pitching depth with 11 pitchers taking the mound in those nine games. Many teams would enjoy that luxury. Only one pitcher has more than four starts and six have at least three.
“It has been a huge advantage for them,” Nelson said. “It’s what helps us. They are fresh.”
Prairie is 16-2 and leads the Mississippi Valley Conference Mississippi Division. City High is just two games back in the wins column.
Bash by Nash
Mason City Newman junior Nash Holmgaard accomplished something no other Iowa high school baseball player has done. In a 15-4 victory over West Fork on Monday, Holmgaard belted four home runs that is being deemed a “home run cycle.”
According to the Iowa High School Athletic Association, Holmgaard hit a grand slam in the first inning. He followed it with a solo home run in the second. Holmgaard added a two-run shot in the third and closed with a three-run home run in the sixth.
Four home runs in a game is tied for second in state history. His 10 RBIs is tied for the fifth-best single game performance in Iowa.
Iowa’s hitting leader
Montezuma’s Cole Watts leads the entire state in batting average. The Braves senior is hitting a whopping .641.
Watts has 25 hits in 39 at-bats. He has 17 singles with three doubles, three triples and two home runs. Watts has scored 25 runs and owns a .682 on-base percentage.
Montezuma entered Wednesday’s game against BGM with an 8-3 record.