(KMAland) -- Day 87 of blogging with no sports. This is the 81st consecutive blog and 85th during this period.

The preseason watch list is down to its final day. I’ve done watch lists for the KMAland Offensive Player of the Year in softball and baseball, and I’ve done a watch list for the KMAland Pitcher of the Year in softball. Today, it’s the KMAland Baseball Pitcher of the Year Watch List.

As a reminder, pitchers eligible for this award are those from the Hawkeye Ten, Corner, Western Iowa, Pride of Iowa and Rolling Valley conferences plus Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, Lamoni, Murray and Orient-Macksburg.

The list that I have compiled is very large. There are 79 names on it, and I did it the same way I did softball. I went to QuikStats and sorted ERA, and then I went to another page and sorted by strikeouts. I rotated through each page (50 names on each) and logged them all until I decided I had to stop. I’m sorry for anybody that was missed, but I went through about 800-900 names around the state to get here.

By the way, your previous winners:

Brett Sears, Harlan (2018, 2019)

Tyler Laing, Kuemper Catholic (2017)

Caleb Shudak, Lewis Central (2016)

Tyler Jacobsen, Exira/EHK (2014, 2015)

Chris Halbur, Kuemper Catholic (2013)

And now…

2020 KMALAND BASEBALL PITCHER OF THE YEAR WATCH LIST

Clayton Akers, Senior, AHSTW – Akers is part of a loaded Western Iowa Conference when it comes to pitching. He had a 1.51 ERA and 29 strikeouts in 41 2/3 innings pitched last season. Akers made five starts and four relief appearances in finishing with a 4-3 record.

Clatyon Akers

Hunter Andersen, Junior, Exira/Elk Horn-Kimballton – Andersen will definitely get a lot of chances on the bump this year. He went just 20 2/3 innings overall a season ago, but he ended up striking out 26 batters and went with a 2.37 ERA and a 1.50 WHIP.

Cory Bantam, Sophomore, Woodbine – One of the top-returning eligible sophomore pitcher should lead the Woodbine staff this summer. He went 31 2/3 innings a year ago, striking out 40 and finishing with a great 1.55 ERA and 0.76 WHIP. Bantam ended up 4-0 in four starts and made five relief appearances.

Grant Borkowski, Senior, Glidden-Ralston – Borkowski gives the Wildcats a chance every time he hits the bump. Last year, that was four starts and two relief appearances worth as he went 21 2/3 innings, posted a 2.26 ERA and finished with 35 strikeouts.

Connor Bruck, Senior, Harlan – Bruck is the top-returning pitcher in the Hawkeye Ten Conference. In his junior season, he posted a miniscule 1.21 ERA and an even better 0.78 WHIP. Bruck struck out 63 in 57 1/3 innings and ended up 8-0 in eight starts with one save in four relief appearances.

Trevor Carlson, Senior, Tri-Center – Carlson made seven relief appearances last season, and he put forth a really strong performance out of the ‘pen. The KMAland Defensive Player of the Year in football, Carlson threw just 20 1/3 innings, but he’s worth talking about thanks to his 1.38 ERA and 25 strikeouts.

Trevor Carlson

Photo: Trevor Carlson

Cole Cassady, Senior, Martensdale-St. Marys – All 16 of his appearances last season were in relief, and Cassady will look for another strong season for this year’s Blue Devils. He ended up with a pair of saves, a 1.12 ERA, a 1.32 WHIP and 35 strikeouts against just 16 walks.

Jakob Childs, Senior, Clarinda – Childs has had one impressive multi-sport career, and he will look to finish it out as one of the top arms for the Cardinals. He punched out 31 batters over 29 2/3 innings last season, finishing with a 4.72 ERA and a 1.28 WHIP.

Jakob Childs

Quentin Culbertson, Junior, Coon Rapids-Bayard – Culbertson was key for last year’s “Cinderella season” in leading the Crusaders to the state tournament. Culbertson threw 51 1/3 innings, finishing with a 1.91 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP. He struck out 44 over nine starts while putting up a perfect 9-0 season.

Joey Cunningham, Senior, AHSTW – Cunningham seems like he has been pitching for about 10 years now. He’s finally entering his senior summer and will look to build off of last year’s 35 1/3 innings when he struck out 39 and had a 3.37 ERA. He made four starts and three relief appearances and picked up a pair of wins for the Vikes.

Keygan Day, Senior, Stanton – Day threw just 18 1/3 innings last year, but he should definitely have plenty of opportunity on the bump this year with some of last year’s pitchers graduating. Day had a 1.53 ERA and struck out 24 batters while finishing with a pair of wins for the Vikings.

Easton Dermody, Senior, Lewis Central – Another Iowa Central commit from the area, Dermody had a strong year on the mound, making 11 of his 15 appearances in relief. Dermody threw 38 innings during his junior season, finishing with 58 strikeouts, a 3.68 ERA and a 1.53 WHIP.

Easton Dermody

JC Dermody, Sophomore, Lewis Central – When it comes to ERA, Dermody is just a touch behind Bantam in the sophomore class. However, Dermody went 31 1/3 innings and posted a 1.56 ERA against a difficult schedule, striking out 28 and finishing with a 4-1 record over four starts and five relief spots.

Caelen DeVault, Sophomore, Nodaway Valley – One of the top sophomore arms was really impressive as a freshman last season. He struck out 47 batters in 42 1/3 innings, making nine starts and finishing with a 3-2 record. His 2.81 ERA and 1.35 WHIP were very impressive.

Tanner Dierking, Junior, Southeast Warren – Dierking is one of the main reasons Southeast Warren is going to be just fine, even with the loss of last year’s seniors. He went 5-2 with a 3.54 ERA and a 1.39 WHIP while striking out 43 and walking just 19.

Nic Duysen, Senior, East Mills – The top-returning senior pitcher in the Corner Conference, Duysen went 35 1/3 innings, struck out 46 and finished with a 3.17 ERA. His 1.61 WHIP and 3-3 record came over seven starts and two other relief appearances for the Wolverines.

Carson Elbert, Junior, Martensdale-St. Marys – They aren’t hurting for pitching. That’s definitely the truth. Elbert struck out 38 batters in 36 1/3 innings, posted a 1.54 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP and ended up 4-2 in seven starts and five relief appearances.

Trey Baker & Carson Elbert, MSTM.jpg

Javin Evans, Sophomore, Lamoni – The first Lamoni name on this list and one of very few sophomores, Evans went 37 innings, struck out 31 and had a 1.89 ERA and 1.11 WHIP for the Demons a year ago. Evans made seven starts and four relief appearances on his way to a perfect 6-0 record.

Michel Evertsen, Senior, Central Decatur – Evertsen made 10 starts and seven relief appearances last year for the Cardinals. That’s a lot of games to appear in, and he went 59 1/3 innings while striking out 48 and posting a 4.25 ERA.

Michel Evertsen

Alec Fichter, Junior, Missouri Valley – Fichter was on Tuesday’s list, and he makes the list here, too, after a strong sophomore year on the bump. In all, he made five starts and nine relief appearances, tossing 38 innings and striking out 37 with a 4.05 ERA and a sub-2.00 WHIP.

Isaac Gavin, Senior, Martensdale-St. Marys – I can’t say I’ve ever faced a 6-foot-10 pitcher, but it must feel like the ball is immediately right on you. Gavin had major success last year with a 1.57 ERA and 65 strikeouts in 58 innings. He went 11-1 in 14 starts for the state-qualifying Blue Devils.

Grant Gilgen, Junior, West Harrison – When it comes to ERA, there is nobody in the Rolling Valley that returns a lower number than Gilgen, who posted a 1.16 last season. He went 48 1/3 innings, finished 6-2 and had 45 strikeouts for the Hawkeyes in a big sophomore season.

Isaac Grose, Senior, Mount Ayr – Grose is an impressive lefty from the Pride of Iowa Conference that figures to get plenty of time on the bump before moving to the collegiate level next year. Grose struck out 44 in 31 2/3 innings and put down a 3.54 ERA with a 1.33 WHIP.

Isaac Grose, Mount Ayr

Bryce Hall, Senior, Southeast Warren – Hall is one of the elite two-way players returning in the area, and he will look to finish strong before heading off to Ellsworth. He had nine starts, a 5-2 record and 45 1/3 innings pitched during his junior year. He struck out 49 against just 14 walks and posted a 1.85 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP.

Bryce Hall

Colby Harris, Senior, Nodaway Valley – Harris might be a little overlooked in a Pride of Iowa Conference with so many outstanding pitchers, but he’s definitely an ace that the Wolverines can lean on. Last year, Harris had a 1.55 ERA and 28 strikeouts in 49 2/3 innings, finishing with a 5-1 record in eight starts and one relief appearance.

Braiden Heiden, Junior, Denison-Schleswig – Heiden made eight starts last season, and it was generally against the best of the best in the Hawkeye Ten Conference. Still, he struck out 58 in 43 innings and finished with a 4.23 ERA. He’s the best junior arm in the preeminent league in all of KMAland.

Gaven Heim, Senior, Tri-Center – The Trojans will have four names on this list, and Heim is one that went 22 innings in making three starts and appearing in four games in relief. He ended up with a solid 30 strikeouts and a 2.23 ERA and 1.50 WHIP during his junior summer.

Gaven Heim, Tri-Center

Reece Held, Senior, Murray – Held is the leading pitcher among eligible players from the Bluegrass Conference. He had 75 strikeouts in just 41 innings of work last season, posting a 2.05 ERA and a 1.49 ERA along the way. He made nine starts, went 4-3 overall and had a save in two relief appearances.

Tate Hill, Senior, Central Decatur – The Central Decatur standout threw 46 2/3 innings last summer, appearing eight games as a starter and six others as a reliever. He struck out 31 batters and finished the season with a 4.80 ERA.

Matt Hughes, Sophomore, Martensdale-St. Marys – Hughes made six starts and four relief appearances as a freshman, getting more and more of a look as his success continued to rise. He had a 2.16 ERA, a 1.33 WHIP and 25 strikeouts in 32 1/3 innings for the Blue Devils last summer.

Jackson Jensen, Senior, Audubon – A power pitcher on the mound for Audubon, Jensen led the Western Iowa Conference with 74 strikeouts last season. He had a 1.87 ERA and a 1.42 WHIP in 11 starts while finishing with a 4-4 record while facing some of the top teams in the WIC. In all, Jensen went 45 innings during his junior summer.

Jackson Jensen, Audubon

Joel Klocke, Junior, Audubon – Klocke put down a 2.57 ERA and a 1.32 WHIP last season while throwing 32 2/3 innings for the Wheelers. He also struck out 28 in making four starts and six other relief appearances.

Keelan Klommhaus, Senior, Mount Ayr – Klommhaus made six starts and one relief appearance last season, throwing 32 1/3 innings and striking out 53. He posted a 0.83 ERA and a 0.77 WHIP in the process while finishing with a 5-0 record and nabbed one save. If he’s healthy, he’s one of the best pitchers in the area.

Briar Knapp, Junior, Mount Ayr – Here’s another solid arm for the Raiders to lean on in a shortened season. Knapp went 30 2/3 innings last season and finished with 47 strikeouts and a 1.83 ERA. He also kept his WHIP sub-1.00 at 0.95 while finishing 4-0 in four starts and three relief appearances.

Eli Loudon, Senior, Creston – He’s not a lefty, but he is crafty – and yes, a righty can be crafty. Loudon made six starts and six relief appearances, finishing with a 4-3 record and 49 strikeouts in 39 1/3 innings. His 3.74 ERA was coupled with a 1.63 WHIP, and the Panthers will rely on his craftiness again this season.

Eli Loudon

Photo: Eli Loudon 

Kristian Martens, Senior, Treynor – Treynor is plenty impressive on the mound, and Martens has put forth a big performance in some huge games in the past. He went 37 2/3 innings, struck out 34 and had a 3.19 ERA with a 1.37 WHIP last season.

Kristian Martens, Treynor Baseball

Kristian Martens, Treynor Baseball

Nick Mather, Senior, Shenandoah – Mather was a nice find last year in making five starts and nine other relief appearances during his junior summer. He had 44 2/3 innings, struck out 34 and posted a 4.70 ERA and 1.72 WHIP.

Nate McCombs, Senior, Treynor – A big lefty with sterling stats that will take his talents to the next level at Northwestern. McComb started eight, won seven and went 43 2/3 innings while striking out 53 and finishing with a 3.05 ERA and 1.58 WHIP.

Nate McCombs signs with Northwestern

Jacob Meade, Junior, Missouri Valley – Another Missouri Valley junior, Meade put up an impressive 2.80 ERA while throwing 25 innings. Meade had 26 strikeouts over three starts and five relief appearances and was a winner in three of four decisions.

Tyler Melby, Senior, West Harrison – Another nice arm for the Hawkeyes, Melby struck out 58 and had a 2.06 ERA last year over 47 2/3 innings. He had a 4-3 record in eight starts and made one relief appearance while also posting a terrific 1.15 WHIP.

Jack Mendlik, Senior, Denison-Schleswig – Mendlik enters his senior season with momentum from a great junior year. He made six starts and one relief appearance, logging 33 1/3 innings and posting a 2.10 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP. He struck out 24 batters for the Monarchs.

Grant Merk, Senior, Thomas Jefferson – The first of two TJ hurlers that put up some solid numbers last season. Merk had 47 2/3 innings, 39 strikeouts, a 2.79 ERA and a 1.36 WHIP while making seven starts and 10 relief appearances.

Ethan Mitchell, Junior, East Union – Mitchell made five starts and five relief appearances during his sophomore summer in 2019. He had 31 2/3 innings and 41 strikeouts for the Eagles.

Joey Moser, Sophomore, Harlan – Another from Harlan that was on Tuesday’s list, Moser will probably get plenty of innings and opportunities this year. He worked seven of his eight appearances in relief, finishing with 21 innings, 16 strikeouts, a 3.00 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP.

Harlan Freshman Joey Moser

(KMA File Photo) Harlan's Joey Moser

Cooper Neal, Sophomore, Clarinda – This could be a big summer for Cooper Neal, who was very impressive last season in his 21 2/3 innings on the mound. He had a 2.91 ERA, working exclusively as a reliever (10 appearances) while also putting up a 1.48 ERA.

Cade Nelson, Sophomore, Southeast Warren – Nelson didn’t throw a lot of innings last year, but he makes the list because he’s likely to get more opportunities this season. He threw 17 2/3 innings, struck out 22 and had a 1.98 ERA and 1.25 WHIP. Just a small taste, but he definitely was very good when he was out there.

Landon Nelson, Senior, Underwood – The workhorse for last year’s state-qualifying Underwood squad. Nelson threw 60 innings, struck out 71 and finished the year with a 2.22 ERA and 1.18 WHIP. His win-loss record was 10-1 in 12 starts and one relief appearance.

Brody O’Brien, Senior, Atlantic – O’Brien was the No. 2 for the Trojans last season, and he will take a move up after the graduation of ace Chase McLaren. He tossed 42 1/3 innings, struck out 33 and had a 3.31 ERA while making nine starts and two other relief appearances.

Jordan Perkins, Senior, Bedford – Perkins has all the tools to be an outstanding asset for the Bulldogs this season. He had 38 1/3 innings pitched over six starts and four other relief appearances, and he struck out 33.

Jordan Perkins, Bedford Bulldogs

Drew Petersen, Senior, Treynor – One of the aces of the Treynor staff and the Western Iowa Conference, Petersen went 53 1/3 innings and had a 1.18 ERA and 1.16 WHIP last year. Petersen struck out 59 and went 5-3 in 10 starts with a save in one relief appearance.

Drew Petersen, Treynor

Tyler Petersen, Junior, Exira/Elk Horn-Kimballton – Petersen was impressive over 37 2/3 innings last year for the Spartans, posting a 2.44 ERA and a 1.37 WHIP with 36 strikeouts. He made five starts and four relief appearances and picked up a pair of wins for the Spartans.

Garett Phillips, Sophomore, Sidney – I’d look for a nice jump from Phillips this summer, as he looks to continue his success in his sophomore year. He had 36 strikeouts in 23 1/3 innings while making four starts and four other relief appearances for the Cowboys last year.

Sam Porter, Senior, AHSTW – Yet another Western Iowa Conference senior pitcher that figures to have a big senior sayonara. Porter struck out 63 batters in 41 1/3 innings, finishing with a 3.90 ERA and a 1.50 WHIP. In nine starts, Porter ended up 6-3 for his junior season.

Sam Porter committs

Blake Pottebaum, Junior, Kuemper Catholic – By these measures, Pottebaum ranks among the top 10 pitchers in the Hawkeye Ten Conference. He had 37 innings, 38 strikeouts and a 3.41 ERA during his sophomore season. He made seven starts and two relief appearances, picking up five wins in eight decisions.

Layne Pryor, Junior, Woodbine – The Division I football recruit can definitely sling it. He struck out 65 in just 42 2/3 innings last season, finishing his sophomore campaign with a 3.12 ERA and an impressive 1.15 WHIP. Pryor made seven starts and finished 5-4 on the mound.

Layne Pryor, Woodbine

Will Ragaller, Sophomore, Ar-We-Va – Ragaller had a big freshman season in a number of sports, and baseball was definitely one of those. He threw 29 1/3 innings for a pretty veteran crew, striking out 39 and posting a 2.86 ERA and 1.47 WHIP. He was more of a reliever last season (7 relief appearances, 4 starts), but I’d say he’ll be this year’s ace.

Nick Ravlin, Senior, Underwood – Ravlin was a key reliever for the Eagles last season, coming into shut the door on multiple occasions. He had two starts and 13 relief appearances, nabbing three wins over 29 2/3 innings. He struck out 34 and posted a 2.12 ERA and a 1.32 WHIP.

Wiley Ray, Junior, Orient-Mackburg – Ray is one of two Orient-Macksburg arms on this list, and it relates to the strikeouts. They definitely have some guys that can get those, as Ray finished with 49 punch outs in 42 innings a year ago.

Jaiden Rivera, Junior, Lamoni – There were a bunch of dudes from Lamoni on Tuesday’s list, and today is a day for Rivera. He was their ace on the mound last season, making 13 starts and finishing with a 9-3 record while striking out 66 and finishing with a 2.81 ERA and a 1.31 WHIP.

Mason Rohatsch, Junior, Tri-Center – Tri-Center sure appears to be plenty deep in their pitching rotation. Rohatsch mostly appeared out of the bullpen last season in making seven relief appearances among 11 total. He had a 4-0 record, 30 strikeouts and a 1.95 ERA in 28 2/3 innings.

Mason Rohatsch & Gaven Heim, Tri-Center.jpg

Colby Royal, Junior, Stanton – Royal was very, very good last season in making eight starts and appearing four other times in relief and posting a 5-1 record. He had a 2.42 ERA, a great 0.97 WHIP and 54 strikeouts over 46 1/3 innings pitched.

AJ Schiltz, Sophomore, Treynor – Yes, I believe there are five names from Treynor on this list, and it makes sense. They are as deep as anybody in the direct area. He threw 25 1/3 innings – all in relief – and struck out 34 with a 3.32 ERA and a 1.54 WHIP.

Kade Schlepp, Senior, Coon Rapids-Bayard – One of the top arms returning in the Rolling Valley Conference, Schlepp had a big year for the Crusaders. He made nine starts and nine relief appearances, went 5-3 and threw 61 innings while striking out 57 with a 1.38 ERA and a 0.90 WHIP.

Zach Schmitz, Senior, Lenox – Schmitz struck out 37 in 35 2/3 innings last season, as he made five starts and five relief appearances for the Tigers. He also had a 3.53 ERA on the season, which should be a boost for him as he enters his final summer as a Tiger.

Skyler Schultes, Senior, Audubon – Another alliterative Audubon arm. You see what I did there? Man, that’s brilliant. So was Schultes over 45 2/3 innings, as he struck out 41 and put down a 2.47 ERA and a 1.41 WHIP. He had five starts and eight relief appearances and finished with a 3-2 record.

Jaxon Schumacher, Freshman, Treynor – The only freshman on Tuesday’s KMAland OPOTY watch list, Schumacher is also among the youngest pitchers on this list. He threw 28 1/3 innings, posted a 1.48 ERA and struck out 21 batters last season in making five starts and four other relief appearances.

Brennan Sefrit, Senior, Bedford – The Upper Iowa baseball and basketball commit struck out 95 batters last season. That ranks as the top-returning number among eligible pitchers. He also posted a 0.91 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP in a dominant season that was worth 53 2/3 innings over nine starts and two relief appearances.

Bryson Sharon, Senior, Lewis Central – Another senior on the list, Sharon made six starts and six relief appearances and finished with 50 1/3 innings on the bump. He went 4-1, struck out 59 and posted a 2.23 ERA and 1.59 WHIP for the Titans. He’ll get the ball in some big games again this year.

Kaleb Smith, Senior, Tri-Center – The ace and Tri-Center workhorse, Smith had a big year as a junior in going 54 innings over 10 starts. He had a 2.07 ERA, a 1.32 WHIP and 55 strikeouts while finishing with a solid 5-2 record.

Hunter Soma, Senior, Boyer Valley – Soma has plenty to build on as he enters his final season of sports at Boyer Valley. Soma had 40 strikeouts over 49 2/3 innings while making 10 starts and picking up four key wins for the Bulldogs.

Ryan Steinspring, Senior, Thomas Jefferson – Steinspring put forth a really impressive ERA in posting a 2.36 number while also putting up a 1.46 WHIP. He worked 26 2/3 innings and struck out 38 in making four starts and four relief appearances.

Dawson Swank, Junior, Mount Ayr – Yet another Mount Ayr arm. Swank had four starts and four relief appearances in putting up 28 2/3 innings and a 2.44 ERA. His 1.54 WHIP was also very impressive, and he struck out 19 while finishing with a 2-1 record.

Zach Teten, Senior, Underwood – He sure did put up some key innings down the stretch last year, huh? Teten ended up with 34 2/3 innings, 26 strikeouts and a 2.42 ERA. That went along well with a 1.41 WHIP and a 5-0 record over three starts and five relief appearances.

Blake Thompson, Junior, Orient-Macksburg – Thompson had the rubber arm for the Bulldogs last season, taking the ball and generally going deep into games. He had 49 1/3 innings and 58 strikeouts to lead the way for O-M during his sophomore season.

Cade Ticknor, Sophomore, CAM – The list of sophomores on this list is not large, but Ticknor is definitely one of them after a terrific 32 2/3 innings logged as a freshman. He went 8-0 in five starts and five relief appearances, struck out 41 and finished with a 1.93 ERA and a 0.98 WHIP.

Lane Spieker, Cade Ticknor

Austin Tigges, Junior, Kuemper Catholic – The Knights rode him for 58 2/3 innings last season. Tigges made 10 starts and two other relief appearances, finishing with a 2.74 ERA and a 1.30 WHIP while striking out 51 in another tough slate for the Knights.

David Walker, Senior, Central Decatur – Walker made eight starts and appeared in six other games as a reliever last season, compiling 34 innings on the bump. He had 35 strikeouts and a 3.50 ERA, as well as a decent 1.88 WHIP.

Jordan Wardlow, Senior, Lewis Central – While Wardlow was walloping baseballs all over the park last year, he also put forth 28 1/3 solid innings on the mound. He made eight starts and five relief appearances, picking up four wins in eight decisions, and he had a 4.20 ERA and a 1.77 WHIP.

Bret Whitehall, Senior, Wayne – Whitehall will likely get the ball for Wayne in their most important games again this year. He threw 31 innings and struck out 36 batters while finishing with a solid ERA (3.84) and WHIP (1.36) a season ago.

Bret Whitehall

Brycen Wookey, Sophomore, Murray – Wookey struck out 44 batters in 26 innings during his freshman season and will be all the better for that experience. He had a 2.69 ERA and a 1.39 WHIP while posting a 3-1 record over five starts and four relief appearances.

Lance Wright, Senior, St. Albert – St. Albert had a bunch of guys on Tuesday’s list, and this is their top-returning pitcher (in terms of ERA). Wright posted a 1.56 ERA, throwing 31 1/3 innings and striking out 28 a year ago. He made seven starts and went 6-1 while also appearing in two other games as a reliever.

Lance Wright, St. Albert Falcons

Lance Wright, St. Albert Falcons


Phew -- that's a list of 79 that includes 46 seniors, 19 juniors, 13 sophomores and one freshman. It also has 22 from the POI, 18 from the WIC, 15 from the H-10, 12 from the RVC, six from the Bluegrass, four from the Corner and two from the MRC.

Send any questions, comments and/or concerns to dmartin@kmaland.com.

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