By Gazette Sports Staff
PLAYERS TO WATCH
• Zach Daniels, sr., C.R. Kennedy, Mississippi Valley Conference Mississippi Division Athlete of the Year, INA first-team 4A all-state, IHSBCA all-state super team, batted .467 with 57 hits, including 13 doubles and 32 RBIs, Went 8-1 with 1.01 ERA.
• Johnny Dobbs, jr., C.R. Washington, INA third-team 4A all-state, first-team all-MVC Valley Division, Batted .391 with .509 on-base percentage, 34 hits and 28 RBIs.
• Jake Hovden, sr., Decorah, IHSBCA second-team 3A all-state, INA third-team all-state, Batted .495 with .560 on-base percentage, 54 hits, 43 runs and 23 RBIs.
• Manny Jeffery, jr., Linn-Mar, IHSBCA second-team 4A all-state team, INA third-team all-state, First-team all-MVC Valley Division, Batted .427 with 50 hits, 35 runs and 20 stolen bases.
• Connor Klostermann, sr., Dyersville Beckman, Named first-team 2A all-state by INA and IHSBCA, first-team all-Wamac East, Batted .374 with 43 hits, 11 doubles and 35 RBIs, Went 6-2 with 1.98 ERA and 64 strikeouts in 53 innings.
• Sammy Lizarraga, sr., C.R. Kennedy, First-team INA 4A all-state, IHSBCA all-state super team, first-team all-MVC Mississippi Division, went 7-1 with 1.31 ERA and 59 strikeouts, Batted .300 with eight doubles and two home runs and team-high 34 RBIs.
• Brandt Ollinger, sr., Linn-Mar, 2013 INA and IHSBCA second-team 4A all-state selection, first-team all-MVC Valley Division in 2013, Hit .452 with 57 hits, four home runs and 36 RBIs as a sophomore, Only played seven games for Lions last season.
• Dallyn Putz, sr., West Delaware, IHSBCA second-team 3A all-state, INA third-team all-state. First-team all-Wamac East, Batted .415, 54 hits, 60 runs, 26 RBIs, .510 on-base percentage.
• Jordan Rommes, sr., South Winneshiek, INA and IHSBCA first-team 2A all-state selection, first-team all-Upper Iowa Conference, Led 2A with 13 home runs, 57 RBIs, 57 hits and 56 runs. Batted .514 with .594 on-base percentage. Went 5-0 with 2.63 ERA and 41 strikeouts in 34 2/3 innings.
• Kolton Rose, sr., Alburnett, INA second-team 2A all-state, First-team all-Tri-Rivers Conference, Batted .540 with 54 hits, 14 doubles and 36 RBIs, 7-0 record with 1.56 ERA.
• Spencer VanScoyoc, jr., C.R. Jefferson, IHSBCA all-state super team, INA second-team 4a all-state, first-team all-MVC Mississippi Division, Batted .400 with 50 hits, including 19 doubles and 38 RBIs. Went 2-1 with 1.93 ERA, including 40 strikeouts in 25 1/3 innings.
• Connor Woodward, sr., Lisbon, IHSBCA second-team 1A all-state team, INA third-team all-state, first-team all-Tri-Rivers Conference, Batted .411 with 58 hits, 48 RBIs and 46 runs, Went 8-4 with 2.29 ERA, throwing 79 1/3 innings.
TEAMS TO WATCH
• ALBURNETT — The Pirates had an impressive season last year, going 30-2 and coming up short in a tough postseason draw that featured Mount Vernon and state qualifier Iowa City Regina. Alburnett returns its entire pitching staff from last year’s Tri-Rivers Conference champion, including Kolton Rose and Ian Boline, who were each 7-0. They return seven starters overall, including Bryce Paul, Dillon Caves and Jordan Stewart.
• C.R. KENNEDY — The Cougars are coming off a state tournament appearance, falling to eventual state champion Southeast Polk (1-0) in the quarterfinals. The defending MVC Mississippi Division champs return a strong nucleus, including all-state performers Zach Daniels and Sammy Lizarraga. Blake Hargens went 8-1 with a 1.10 ERA, giving Kennedy a strong starting rotation.
• DYERSVILLE BECKMAN — The traditional pick seems to reload every year, reaching the state finals for the third straight season. The Blazers were second after state titles in 2012 and 2013. Connor Klostermann is one of the top all-around players, returning with the highest batting average among starters and wins as a pitcher. Eric Boeckenstedt and Logan Welling will lead the way.
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• LINN-MAR — The Lions had young contributors last season and only played seven games with all-state performer Brandt Ollinger, who elected to spend last summer playing for a travel team. His return will immediately bolster a lineup with all-stater Manny Jeffery and all-MVC Valley second-teamer Ryan Wyant. They have good depth and solid pitching. Consistent hitting will be key.
• LONE TREE — Lone Tree reached the Class 1A state tournament last season, finishing 21-7 after a state quarterfinal loss. The Lions return most of its wins from last season, including a core of starters led by Erik Murry, who had a team-high eight wins. Lone Tree has six players back with at least 20 hits, including Murry and Jake Viner.
• MOUNT VERNON — The Mustangs won 27 games last season and bring back a bunch of talent, including juniors Luke Eldred, Marquis Dew and Adam Ketelsen, who combined for 17 wins. Eldred, Drew and sophomore Tristan Wirfs will provide an offensive punch, driving in 106 total runs last year, including 45 from Wirfs. They have big shoes to fill from graduation, but have plenty of experience.