116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CENTER POINT — Clear Creek Amana’s Ben Swails expected last summer to be his breakout season.
Unfortunately, plans were placed on hold after a freak accident, slicing his hand with a knife as he cut off batting tape off the handle. Swails had a reparative surgery and returned to base run for teammates.
“For the first 90 percent of the season, I had to do Game Changer on the iPad, because I couldn’t use my thumb at all,” Swails said about the injury to the flexor tendon of his glove-hand thumb. “Thankfully, I got the chance to base run at the end of the year. I got to wear one of those sliding mitts. I got a chance to steal some bases and score some runs last year. It was very disappointing.”
Swails has produced a banner senior campaign. He ranks among the offensive leaders in Class 3A. Swails reached base all four times and earned the win in relief in the nightcap Thursday night and scored the go-ahead run to help the seventh-ranked Clippers sweep Center Point-Urbana in a Wamac Conference doubleheader. CCA won the opener, 5-4, and the nightcap, 6-4.
“Center Point-Urbana has a really good ball club,” CCA Coach Nick Zumsande said. “We knew they were going to be tough ball games. We did just enough to get both wins.”
Swails suffered two straight challenging seasons with COVID-19 impacting his sophomore year. He was determined to make this one to remember.
“I knew it had to be a comeback year,” Swails said. “I had to start strong and continue that to finish strong. Since the incident happened, I knew I was going to have to do really well this year and contribute in a big way to help this team win.”
Offense has been his forte and few have amassed better numbers. Swails is second in 3A with 34 RBIs and tied for second with five home runs. His .517 batting average is good for third, while his 30 hits is fifth-best in 3A. Not bad for the multi-sport standout who was the starting quarterback for the Clippers’ playoff football team, averaged 19 points per game in basketball and qualified for the state track and field meet.
“I’ll put him against anybody with what he has accomplished in all those sports,” Zumsande said. “I give him a lot of credit for sticking with it. Really, doing what he’s done throughout the year, I’ll challenge anybody to bring a better guy that has excelled in those sports. I mean not just play but excel.”
The output is a product of his work throughout the year. He possesses a passion for baseball, squeezing in batting practice during other seasons. The Iowa Western commit will hit on his own or ask Zumsande to throw to him in the team’s indoor facility, putting in more time in December and January.
“Baseball is a year-round thing for me,” Swails said. “I wish I could physically play all year round. That’s not how it works, so I play other sports and excel in those. That’s really important to me.”
Swails went 1-for-1 with three walks in Game 2. He scored in the middle of the Clippers’ three-run seventh, propelling them to a 15-5 overall mark. Sam Young scored on Kaden Phan’s infield single and Swails scored when Stirlen Roberson drew a bases-loaded walk, making it 5-4. The Clippers added another run on a wild pitch.
Swails also pitched the final 1 1/3 innings for the win, allowing just one baserunner and striking out one.
In the opener, CCA posted a four-run third, receiving a two-run single from Jack Downes. Blaine Stockman drove in Reece Hoffman with the winning run with a single in the fifth.
Josh Loren went 5 2/3 innings and scattered six hits to earn the win for the Clippers. Roberson notched the save.
“One of the things we talk about is staying with it,” Zumsande said. “We did a pretty good job of grinding through these two games. They deserve all the credit.
“I thought we pitched extremely well. I thought they all did well.”
Bryer Wiley had a double and scored three times and Jaden Patterson had two hits and three RBIs, including a run-scoring triple to give CPU a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the sixth in Game 2. Ben Hakert had two hits and two RBIs in the opener to pace the Stormin’ Pointers (12-10).