116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Western Dubuque has all the elements for success.
The Bobcats have a solid and deep pitching staff. They have speed that can get on base and the run producers that hit behind them. The have experienced upperclassmen that mesh well with talented younger players.
Western Dubuque has climbed to ninth in the latest Class 4A rankings. The Bobcats are 24-4-1 and have a chance to post one of the most successful seasons in school history.
'We have had a good season,' Western Dubuque Coach Casey Bryant said. 'We hope to keep our heads down and humbly keep working.
'We have a strong group of seniors and a strong group of sophomores. We have some good juniors and a very good freshman.'
Coming into the season, the Bobcats had pitching promise. They returned their five top throwers. They haven't disappointed, owning a 1.68 team earned run average and holding opponents to a .163 batting average, which is less than four hits per game.
Senior Gregory Bennett is 6-0 with a 1.26 ERA. Dylan Gotto is 4-0 with a 0.95 ERA. Sophomore Kyle Lehman is fourth with 20 2/3 innings pitched but has a 4-0 mark and 0.68 ERA. Even more impressive, the Bobcats have received no-hit performances from Bennett, Gotto and sophomores Damon Jaeger and Sam Goodman, who shut out North Scott, 2-0.
'We have a nice deep pitching staff,' Bryant said. 'We've had four different pitchers throw no-hitters. Sometimes it's five to 10 years between no-hitters.'
The offense has held its end of the bargain. The Bobcats average eight runs a game and hit .338 as a team. Their batting average and 232 total runs are second most in 4A.
Seniors Max Steffen and Bennett are leading at the plate, hitting .523 and .458, respectively. Senior Nick Lembezeder is flirting with a .400 batting average and freshman catcher Calvin Harris, who is gaining interest of NCAA Division I programs, is batting .372.
'We have speed at the top of our lineup,' said Bryant, who has coached the Bobcats to three state tournaments including the 2006 3A state final. 'We have guys on a lot. It's up to our run producers to drive them in.'
One of those table setters is Steffen. The Bobcats' leadoff batter has a .549 on-base percentage and leads 4A with 53 runs and 56 hits.
Steffen has wreaked havoc on the base paths, swiping six bases in a Wednesday doubleheader against South Tama for a 4A best 45 stolen bases. He broke the Bobcats' old record of 41 set by Brad Pins in 1990.
'I didn't think that would fall in my time,' Bryant said. 'He's a leadoff batter with tremendous speed.
'He's had a great senior year. He's one of those hard workers.'
The highlight of the season might be in the conference performance. Western Dubuque has 20 victories to just one loss in a tough Wamac Conference that has four ranked teams in three different classes.
'For us to be 20-1 says a lot, because that is hard to do,' Bryant said. 'There are some talented kids at Western Dubuque. We just try to stay out of their way and let them play. They've done a good job.'
Lisbon's Tyson Williams is tied for seventh in Class 1A with five home runs. The Lions' senior first baseman collected all five in one week from June 15-22.
Williams hit homers in three straight games, capping the stretch with a home run against Lone Tree and then one in each game of a doubleheader against Central City the next day. He hit his first one at Easton Valley on June 15 with the second coming the next day against Bellevue.
Williams was also tied for seventh in 1A with 39 RBIs before Thursday's competition. He is hitting .461 with 35 hits, including 15 doubles.
STRUVE GETS 600th
In a follow-up to an earlier story, Vinton-Shellsburg improved to 25-3-1 with a 10-0 victory Thursday in a makeup game with Anamosa. The win was the 600th for Vikings Coach Jim Struve.
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