Prep Baseball

4A, 3A Iowa high school baseball teams get substate assignments

Big schools begin postseason July 17

Liberty's Cody Schroeder (6) runs to catch a fly ball during the first game of their doubleheader at Liberty High School
Liberty's Cody Schroeder (6) runs to catch a fly ball during the first game of their doubleheader at Liberty High School in Iowa City on Friday, June 19, 2020. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)

Iowa high school baseball postseason assignments for all classes have been set and now the bigger schools know the hurdles in their way to reach the state tournament.

Although the seeds and matchups for the big schools haven’t been determined, the substate fields for Classes 4A and 3A have been released. District pairings were announced by the Iowa High School Athletic Association on Wednesday as well. The first round of small-school competition opens as early as July 9 and 4A starts July 17.

“We’re just excited to have that opportunity,” Iowa city Liberty Coach Tom Cronk said. “Whether we’re going to North Scott, Pleasant Valley or even if we’re going up to Western Dubuque or (Cedar Rapids) Kennedy again, we are just doing our best to get ready to play.”

Liberty is the lone Gazette-area team in Substate 5, joining the Lancers, Spartans, Burlington, Davenport North and Muscatine. The Lightning (5-3) had a strong postseason run last season and return a strong bit of experience, making their debut in the 4A coaches poll this week at No. 9.

With the shortened schedule and the Mississippi Valley Conference opting for interdivisional play to fill teams’ non-conference games, Liberty hasn’t seen other schools in its substate. There are no opportunities to scout future opponents with attendance restrictions.

The Lightning’s mantra has been about focusing on themselves.

“We have our hands full,” Cronk said. “We’ve seen a good chunk of those guys in the past. When we play well, we have a chance to beat anybody and that’s our job (as coaches) to get guys ready to play well.”

Familiar foes will welcome one outlier in 4A Substate 6. Iowa City High, Iowa City West, Cedar Rapids Jefferson, Cedar Rapids Washington, Linn-Mar and Southeast Polk will compete for a state berth. West was a state semifinalist a year ago.

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“Strong substate,” Linn-Mar Coach Kyle Rodenkirk said. “Both Iowa City schools have great programs and play baseball the right way. Jefferson and Washington are as hungry as we are. I don’t know much about Southeast Polk and, honestly, surprised they are in our bracket.

“Anyone can win in the postseason, no matter what your record is or how talented your team is (and) that’s what makes it so fun.”

An interesting battle could emerge in 4A Substate 3. Western Dubuque has reached the last two state tournaments, while Kennedy (8-0) looks to be back to its old form. Both teams received votes in the latest poll and will battle it out with Cedar Falls, Dubuque Senior, Waterloo East and Waterloo West.

Bryant said he expects fun competition.

“We are just trying to get healthy and keep our kids as safe as possible,” said Bobcats Coach Casey Bryant, confirming that all-stater Calvin Harris — the Gazette Male Athlete of the Year — returned to the lineup in a designated hitter role. “We have not played as consistently as we would hope for thus far, but I do feel our best baseball is in front of us. All the teams in our substate can be dangerous and Kennedy especially is off to a strong start.”

Cedar Rapids Prairie is in 4A Substate 4 with Bettendorf, Clinton, Davenport Central, Davenport West and No. 8 Dubuque Hempstead.

Defending 3A state champion and sixth-ranked Cedar Rapids Xavier will try for another state berth. The Saints (5-3) were grouped with Benton Community, Charles City, Decorah, Independence, South Tama, Vinton-Shellsburg and Waverly-Shells Rock in 3A Substate 3.

Xavier faced Decorah and Charles City in the postseason a year ago.

“When you play a single-elimination game you have to focus on what you do,” Xavier Coach Dan Halter said. “We just have to hope our guys are locked in pitch-to-pitch and doing their job more than worrying about the other schools.

“There are a lot of teams in the mix. There are a lot of teams that are competitive, traditionally or this year, and they are improved from where they were last season.”

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Marion will play in 3A Substate 4 with top-ranked DeWitt Central, Anamosa, Center Point-Urbana, Dubuque Wahlert, Maquoketa, Mount Vernon and West Delaware.

Class 4A substates

Substate 1 — Ames, Fort Dodge, Johnston, Sioux City East, Sioux City North, Sioux City West

Substate 2 — Des Moines Hoover, Indianola, Marshalltown, Mason City, Waukee, West Des Moines Valley

Substate 3 — Cedar Falls, Cedar Rapids Kennedy, Dubuque Senior, Waterloo East, Waterloo West, Western Dubuque

Substate 4 — Bettendorf, Cedar Rapids Prairie, Clinton, Davenport Central, Davenport West, Dubuque Hempstead

Substate 5 — Burlington, Davenport North, Iowa City Liberty, Muscatine, North Scott, Pleasant Valley

Substate 6 — Cedar Rapids Jefferson, Cedar Rapids Washington, Iowa City High, Iowa City West, Linn-Mar, Southeast Polk

Substate 7 — Ankeny Centennial, Des Moines East, Des Moines Lincoln, Des Moines Roosevelt, Ottumwa, Urbandale

Substate 8 — Ankeny, Council Bluffs Lincoln, Council Bluffs Jefferson, Des Moines North, Lewis Central, West Des Moines Dowling

Class 3A substates

Substate 1 — Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley, Estherville Lincoln Central, Le Mars, MOC-Floyd Valley, Sergeant Bluff-Luton, Sioux City Heelan, Spencer, Storm Lake

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Substate 2 — Algona, Boone, Clear Lake, Gilbert, Hampton-Dumont-CAL, Humboldt, Iowa Falls-Alden, Webster City

Substate 3 — Benton Community, Cedar Rapids Xavier, Charles City, Decorah, Independence, South Tama, Vinton-Shellsburg, Waverly-Shell Rock

Substate 4 — Anamosa, Center Point-Urbana, DeWitt Central, Dubuque Wahlert, Maquoketa, Marion, Mount Vernon, West Delaware

Substate 5 — Clear Creek Amana, Davenport Assumption, Fairfield, Fort Madison, Keokuk, Mount Pleasant, Solon, Washington

Substate 6 — Carlisle, Centerville, Grinnell, Knoxville, Norwalk, Oskaloosa, Pella, Winterset

Substate 7 — Adel ADM, Ballard, Bondurant-Farrar, Nevada, Newton, North Polk, Perry, Saydel

Substate 8 — Atlantic, Carroll, Creston, Dallas Center-Grimes, Denison-Schleswig, Glenwood, Greene County, Harlan

Comments: (319) 368-8679; kj.pilcher@thegazette.com

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