116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — The season has not been easy or simple for Marion.
The renovations to the school’s varsity baseball diamond have left the Wolves without their regular home field for games or practices.
Marion Coach Steve Fish had to scramble just to find a site to host Mount Pleasant in the first round of Class 3A substate play Friday night. He was even uncertain when and where the next practice would be.
“I think the parking lot is free at Marion and maybe our cages,” Fish said. “I told them (the team) we’ll show up at the high school. We’ll try to find a place to practice. Sunday night we’ll practice. I don’t know where.
“Thank goodness for Perfect Game and Mount Mercy letting us play here. That was huge.”
The resilient Wolves opened their quest for a second straight state title with a dominant 15-1 victory over the Panthers at Plaster Athletic Complex. Marion has reached the state semifinals each of the last three seasons, claiming the school’s first crown a year ago.
“We’re going to flip that switch whenever we step across the lines, no matter what game it is,” senior Jake Trca said. “Every kid knows once we cross the line it’s game time.”
The Wolves are short-handed for the postseason. Their top three pitchers are out due to injury, including all-state ace Boede Rahe. Trca also summed up the team approach to handling all the issues in stride, improving to 24-10.
“Overall, it’s been a good learning (experience),” said Trca, who will play at DMACC next season. “It is good dealing with adversity like this … Whatever works. Find a place with some bags on it and just play some baseball.”
Trca was among the injured players who missed time after hurting his hamstring in the season opener. He has returned for 10 games back on the field after a couple doubleheaders as designated hitter. Trca is just glad to be back in the lineup full-time.
“It feels so much better being with the whole team and not just sitting on the bench, which kind of sucked,” said Trca. “We didn’t think it would be that long and ended up being five weeks.
“It definitely feels great to be back on the field and playing.”
Mount Pleasant took the lead in the first with one run on two hits, stranding the bases loaded. The Wolves took control in the second, putting up five runs on four hits including a two-run single from Jake Miller.
Cael Hodges had a two-run single, while Jaqson Tejada and Myles Davis added run-scoring base hits in a four-run third. The Wolves tacked on six more in the fourth to set up the mercy-rule finish.
Davis and Miller led Marion with three hits apiece and the Wolves pounded 14 total.
“Our at-bats were awesome,” Fish said. “All of our guys did well tonight.
“It was a whole team effort. Up and down the lineup we were hitting it.”
Sophomore Payton Hodges earned the win, giving up just one run on three hits. He even worked out of the first-inning threat.
“That was the first time Payton was in a spot in the postseason,” Fish said. “I was proud of the way that he focused, trusted his defense and put the ball over the plate.”
Marion will face Fort Madison (19-8) at Mount Mercy in a substate semifinal at 7 p.m. Monday.