Monday is Opening Day for prep baseball teams, so here's a look at area players and teams to watch this summer.
Players to Watch
Anthony Alepra, C.R. Kennedy, sr., 5-4 record, 1.44 ERA, 70 strikeouts in 50 1/3 innings pitched, held opponents to .211 batting average, hit .364, honorable mention all-MVC, Northwestern University commit.
Matt Berst, C.R. Kennedy, sr., First-team all-state and all-MVC, Batted .355, tied for MVC Valley lead with 14 doubles, hit four home runs, Committed to Illinois State.
Brady Bunten, C.R. Washington, jr., Second-team all-state and all-MVC, Led Class 4A with a .488 batting average and was second with .566 on-base average, Hit MVC-high 16 doubles.
Jake Hilmer, North Linn, soph., First-team all-state, first-team all-Tri-Rivers, Led state with 13-0 pitching record, 0.53 ERA, 88 strikeouts in 79 2/3 innings, scored Class 1A-best 65 runs, hit .460 batting average, 14 doubles and four triples.
Darren Kilpatrick, C.R. Prairie, sr., Second-team all-state, first-team all-MVC, 8-1 record, 2.29 ERA, .188 opponents’ batting average, 50 strikeouts.
Trey Leonard, C.R. Washington, sr., First-team all-MVC in 2015, Batted .429 with .529 on-base percentage, 13 runs, 12 hits, two doubles, one home run, seven RBIs in just nine games, Committed to Louisville.
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Connor McCaffery, Iowa City West, sr., Second-team all-state, first-team all-MVC, Hit .407 with .728 slugging percentage, 50 hits, including 10 doubles, four triples and eight home runs, 33 RBIs, University of Iowa commit.
Ryan Miller, North Linn, jr., Second-team all-state, first-team all-Tri Rivers, led state with 57 stolen bases, 61 runs, .347 batting average, seven doubles, 6-4 record, 1.24 ERA, 54 strikeouts.
Izaya Ono-Fullard, Iowa City West, sr., Two-time all-stater, first-team all-MVC, Hit .354 with .472 on-base percentage, 46 hits, nine doubles, 30 RBIs.
Chase Rath, Highland, sr., 8-2 record with 1.05 ERA, 116 strikeouts in 73 2/3 innings, two saves, batted .390, 33 RBIs and 29-for-29 stolen bases.
Connor Van Scoyoc, C.R. Jefferson, jr., Third-team all-state, 7-2 record, 1.40 ERA, 58 strikeouts in 60 innings, one save, .155 opponents’ batting average.
Riley LeGrand, Dyersville Beckman, sr., Second-team all-state, Batted .429 with 54 hits and 31 RBIs, .482 on-base percentage, 5-2 record with 2.81 ERA.
Cameron Hoeg, North Tama, sr., 10-2 record, 0.69 ERA, 117 strikeouts in 81 1/3 innings, Batted .549 with .623 on-base percentage, 56 hits, 19 doubles, eight triples, 49 RBIs, 42 runs.
Nathan Struve, Vinton-Shellsburg, sr., Third-team all-state, first-team all-Wamac, 8-1 record, 1.61 ERA, 75 strikeouts in 52 innings, .323 batting average, 32 RBIs, .413 on-base percentage.
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Maverick Miller, Marion, sr., Two-time all-stater, Batted .354 with 52 hits, 39 runs, 17 doubles, 21 stolen bases.
Teams to Watch
CEDAR RAPIDS JEFFERSON: The J-Hawks reached the state quarterfinals. They graduated a strong senior class, but return a lot of talent, including college commits Connor Van Scoyoc (Arizona State), Brayden Frazier (Iowa) and Jarred Wood (Northwest Missouri State). Van Scoyoc and Wood provided a strong 1-2 starting punch on the mound. Kane Kramer added three wins last year. The J-Hawks will be young, but should progress along with the season. Another state berth is possible.
CEDAR RAPIDS WASHINGTON: The Warriors have the potential to join the Metro baseball discussion. Washington welcomes back Louisville commit Trey Leonard, who joins a good offense led by all-stater Brady Bunten, who ranked among Class 4A leaders in multiple categories. They should add speed on the bases. Drew Dostal was an all-district pick and earned all-MVC honors with Bunten, Drew Christensen and Luke Jonasson. Gunnar Bosking and Jacob Bockenstedt lead the pitching staff, which should be deeper.
HIGHLAND: The Huskies were a surprise team a year ago, knocking off North Linn to reach the Class 1A state quarterfinals before falling to state champion Remsen St. Marys. They are experienced with eight of nine starters back. The Huskies return most of their offensive production and will look to run again with 165 stolen bases back. Pitching might be their strength. They return 23 of 24 victories, including eight wins from Chase Reath, seven from Brody Burton and five from Josh Michel.
IOWA CITY WEST: The Trojans have reached the state finals each of the last three seasons and five times since 2009. The MVC Valley champions have the potential for another potent offense with six starters back. Connor McCaffery became an elite hitter last season, tying Logan Sims with a team-high 42 hits. Six of their top seven hit producers are back. Sophomore Jason Strunk led West with 38 RBIs with three home runs, including a walkoff in the state semifinal. The biggest question is pitching, losing 25 of 35 wins to graduation. Braden Houston may step in to lead the staff, going 5-1 last season.
MARION: The Indians have been mentioned as a contender in the Wamac West. They return all but three from last year’s squad that won 25 games. Most of their offensive and pitching production is back, including all-district pitcher Brady Donohue (8-1) and Owen Carstensen and Mitch Wiese, who combined for eight wins. Carstensen, Parker Ridge and Baylor Fish all hit .394 and better. Some young pitching could add depth.
NORTH LINN: The entire roster remains intact and a few newcomers could add depth. Two years ago, the Lynx reached the state semifinals with a number of underclassmen and some who had just finished junior high. They’ve made North Linn one of the top Class 1A teams. The Lynx won the Tri-Rivers, going 34-10 overall. All-staters Jake Hilmer and Ryan Miller lead the way. Brad Pflughaupt, Logan Novak, David Seber and Trevor Boge add to the depth on the mound and at the plate. North Linn was a win shy of the state tournament last season and has the talent to take another shot at it.
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