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Iowa high school baseball 2023: Gazette area teams to watch
Defending Class 3A state champion Western Dubuque highlight 2023 teams; Marion returns key players
Here are eight Gazette area teams to watch as the 2023 Iowa high school baseball season starts Monday.
CEDAR RAPIDS KENNEDY – The Cougars are coming off a 25-win season and bring back a lot of talent. They return seven with starting experience and a few who garnered postseason accolades. Jace Scott and Nolan Grawe earned third-team all-state honors. Trevor Scott was all-district, while Matt Stoltenberg was all-district and all-MVC Valley. Throw in University of Iowa recruit Rowan Donels, who went 5-2 with 49 strikeouts in 42 innings, and the athletic Colby Dolphin with the 3-1 record and five saves of Grant Mather and Kennedy has a lot of potential. The Cougars graduated more than 50 percent of their offensive production from last year, so replacing that is a necessity for success.
CEDAR RAPIDS PRAIRIE – The Hawks have some holes to fill from a team that challenged for a title in the tough MVC Mississippi Division and reached the 4A state quarterfinals. Cal Sullivan, Kade Knock and Maddux Frese led the way offensively. Landon Ruby should be another consistent bat in the lineup. Frese (6-3, 2.48 ERA, 66 strikeouts) is also a key on the mound to go along with junior Kam Volz, who was 8-0 with 2.50 ERA in six starts. Sullivan and junior Reid Burkle had three wins apiece, while Ruby added two for what could be a deep staff and a strength for the Hawks.
DYERSVILLE BECKMAN – One of the top baseball traditions in Iowa high school baseball. The Blazers make a habit of reloading and developing talent in a baseball rich tradition. Change accompanies this season. Ryan Mabe takes the reins from former head coach Fred Martin and the Blazers move from the Wamac to the River Valley Conference. Both will be interesting to follow as Beckman returns from a 2A state semifinal team. Three of their top hitters return, including all-stater Luke Schieltz, Luke Sigwarth and the versatile Nate Offerman, who led the Blazers with eight wins on the mound. Newcomers will need to progress along with the season.
LISBON – The Lions are looking for a third straight state berth, which would be a program first. They have the foundation to make that possible. Lisbon has 10 seniors back from two straight state quarterfinal teams and returns eight of its top-10 batters that combined to hit .337 as a team last season. Hunter Clark leads the way on the mound, while Alex Bock is the top hitter, batting .455 with 40 hits, 41 runs and 30 RBIs. The Lions have the tools for a deep postseason run.
MARION – The Wolves still have pieces from their 2021 state title team. They endured a lot of setbacks last season with injuries to key players and issues with their field. Marion still managed to win 25 games before falling to state runner-up Davenport Assumption in the substate finals. Six of the eight top batters return, including Myles Davis, Kaden Frommelt, Jake Miller, Peyton Hodges and Trey Franck. Young pitchers gained experience, having to fill innings last year. Their progress will be key for the Wolves.
MID-PRAIRIE – The Golden Hawks were impressive, advancing to the 2A state semifinals with a gritty brand of baseball. Key components are back for the Golden Hawks, including leading hitters Cain Brown (.382, 34 hits, 33 runs) and Karson Grout. Actually, all four top hitters are back. Grout and Colin Miller provide two strong starters. They combined for nine wins and 114 strikeouts in 77 innings with five, 72 and 51 coming from Miller. A tough RVC will prime them for the postseason.
WESTERN DUBUQUE – The Bobcats captured the 3A state title last season. They return a strong nucleus of players, including freshman Brett Harris, who has committed to Ole Miss and all-state performers Caleb Klein, Isaac Then and Jake Goodman. They make up four of the top five hitters from last season, combining for 193 hits and 147 runs for a team that was fifth in 3A with a .343 team batting average. Then, Goodman, Ryan Klosterman and Connor Maiers account for 17 of the Bobcats’ 32 victories last season. The only question mark is how the first-year starters develop and contribute.
WILLIAMSBURG – The Raiders are intriguing. The Wamac Conference is one of the state’s best with teams from multiple classes. Williamsburg won 24 games last season, reaching the 2A district semifinals and winning 12 of its last 16 games. Five starters return with five more letterwinners for strong depth and experience. All of their pitchers are back, including Nile Sinn and Trey O’Neil. They led the team in innings pitched. Sinn had a team-high five wins with O’Neil and Cael Moore recording four apiece.