(KMAland) -- Day 91 of blogging with no sports. This is the 85th consecutive blog and 89th during this period.
The state of Iowa is in the national spotlight tonight. We are the leaders. The baseball and softball season that not many thought would actually happen begins tonight, and how thing are handled and how it turns out might serve as a driver on how the rest of the nation handles things in the future.
Or maybe not. We’ll see how it goes. One thing is for sure, it figures to be a unique season. We already know of at least one softball and one baseball team that will open the season in quarantine. That’s such a bizarro sentence to write and would have made no sense about eight months ago.
The Sioux City Journal reported this weekend George-Little Rock/Central Lyon softball is opening the season in quarantine. There is also a baseball team in the area that will not open the year actually playing baseball. According to multiple reports, Kuemper Catholic had some coaches test positive for COVID-19 at the outset of practices. How much more of this will we see through the rest of the summer? Time will tell.
All of that, though, is secondary to the actual games that will be covered on a nightly basis. Again, find our updated sports broadcast calendar linked here.
With all of that said – and all the coverage we’ve devoted to the area – I thought I’d go ahead and take a look outside of the area. Here are 10 softball players and 10 baseball players of note outside of KMAland that are worth knowing about heading into the season.
Caleb Banowetz, Senior, Calamus-Wheatland Baseball
Hard to say what is more impressive: His hitting or his pitching? Banowetz bashed 13 home runs and added 14 doubles and five triples among 56 total hits while hitting .505/.619/1.072 in 2019. His 72 RBI led the entire state. The southpaw also had a big year on the mound with a 9-1 record and 138 strikeouts over 61 1/3 innings. His 0.91 ERA was only surpassed by his 0.57 WHIP.
Carter Baumler, Senior, Dowling Catholic Baseball
Haha – just kidding. We won’t see Baumler in a Dowling uniform this year, but it sure was a fun ride, huh? Best of luck to the kid with the Orioles.
Brett Berg, Senior, Van Meter Baseball
One of the best players for the defending Class 2A state champions, Berg is one of 11 players in the state last year with at least 53 RBI. He had 19 doubles, three triples and a home run among 60 hits, walked 33 times and scored 35 runs while posting a .413/.593/.635 triple-slash. The DMACC commit also posted a 6-0 record, struck out 40 and posted a 0.82 ERA over 34 1/3 innings.
Reece Beuter, Senior, Dike-New Hartford Baseball
You have to look really close to see Beuter’s ERA from last season. The Kirkwood commitment had a 0.24 ERA and a 0.68 WHIP while throwing 58 2/3 innings. His 7-0 record came behind 92 strikeouts against just 19 walks. Beuter also hit .423/.500/.680 with nine doubles, four home runs, two triples and 39 RBI.
Rachel Chambers, Sophomore, Charles City Softball
Chambers had a monster freshman season for Charles City last year, driving in 67 runs, which also happens to be the highest returning RBI total in the state. She hit .500/.547/.960 with 15 home runs and 13 doubles among 63 total hits as the Comets advanced to the 4A state semifinals and eventually placed third.
Abby Flanagan, Senior, North Linn Softball
Flanagan is an ultra-talented athlete that will play softball at DMACC next season. Along with her twin sister Grace, Flanagan helped lead North Linn to a state championship in 2019 while putting up a miniscule 0.55 ERA. She struck out 317 and walked just 16 over 178 1/3 innings. She also hit .419/.467/.618 with 18 extra-base hits, 55 RBI and 26 runs scored.
Cael Frost, Junior, Don Bosco Baseball
The Don Bosco shortstop had 94 total bases in just 34 games last year while hitting .519/.593/.904. He had 20 doubles, six home runs and a triple while driving in 46 runs and scoring 54 times. Bosco figures to be one of the top teams in 1A after losing just three seniors from a state semifinalist.
Blaine Harpenau, Junior, Remsen St. Mary’s Baseball
One of the state’s best football-baseball standouts, Harpenau had 163 strikeouts in 91 1/3 innings last season. That total was second to Jake Hilmer’s 168, but he had a little bit of a lower ERA than Jake (0.69). He went 15-1 in 16 starts and also added a 0.53 WHIP for an eventual state semifinalist. Harpenau also hit .392/.524/.536 with eight doubles and three triples at the plate. Who’s getting a hit off this dude this season?
Austin Hilmer, Sophomore, North Linn Baseball
Another from North Linn and another Hilmer. The only player in the state with more stolen bases last year than Austin’s 52 was his brother Jake, who had 55. The younger Hilmer hit .428/.486/.566 with 13 doubles, four triples and 48 RBI. He also scored 71 runs and allowed just six runs (three earned) in 35 innings. He struck out 31, walked just nine and posted a 0.60 ERA. It’s his team this year.
Mikayla Houge, Senior, Collins-Maxwell Softball
A complete dominator in the circle, Houge led C-M to the Class 1A state championship and will be the favorite to do so again this year. The Virginia recruit struck out 302 batters, walked 26 and posted a 0.40 ERA over 158 innings. She also crushed at the plate in posting a .522/.634/.955 batting line that included 12 doubles, five homers, a triple, 44 RBI and 28 walks.
Ellie Jacobsen, Senior, Humboldt Softball
The top-returning strikeout number in the state, Jacobsen put down 323 on punch outs last year in her junior season. The DMACC recruit had a brilliant 0.74 ERA and walked just 33 batters over 190 innings pitched. She can also hit, posting a .406/.439/.593 batting line with nine doubles and three home runs among 39 hits while driving in 29.
Ty Langenberg, Senior, Urbandale Baseball
The top-ranked team and defending state champion in Class 4A has plenty of options, but I decided to roll with the Iowa signee. Langenberg struck out 100 batters, walked just 39 and posted an 8-2 record over 70 1/3 innings pitched last season. He also had a terrific 1.99 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP in pushing the J-Hawks to the ring.
Laken Lienhard, Senior, Crestwood Softball
I’m always a fan of alliteration, and this is one of the great names in the state of Iowa. She’s also one of the great pitchers, as she is one of just four returning pitchers that struck out 300+ last season. Her total was 315 in 194 1/3 innings, and she allowed just 16 earned runs all year on her way to a 0.58 ERA. She also hit it around the yard to the tune of a .552/.659/1.029 batting line that included 12 doubles, 10 home runs, four triples and 33 walks.
Ayana Lindsey, Junior, Iowa City High Softball
The state leader with 130 total bases, Lindsey had 18 home runs, eight doubles and three triples last season for the Little Hawks. The Northwestern commit also led the state with 73 runs scored, drove in 36 and finished with a .463/.579/.970 batting line. Lindsey can pitch, too, with 172 strikeouts and a 1.33 ERA over 162 2/3 innings last season in pushing her team to the state semifinals.
Denali Loecker, Senior, Ogden Softball
The state batting champ last year, Loecker hit .627 with a .789 on-base percentage and a 1.653 slugging percentage. The Iowa signee had a state-high 22 home runs among her 47 total hits while taking a state-best 55 walks. Oh, and she is the team’s pitcher. She threw 165 1/3 innings, struck out 204 and walked just 22 with a 1.48 ERA.
Rylee Ludwig, Senior, Carroll Softball
Who doesn’t like to see someone get on base, everyone in the ballpark know they are going to steal and they do it anyway? Ludwig led the state last year with 63 stolen bases in 66 attempts. Of course, you have to hit to do something like this, and she did while posting a .381/.444/.467 line.
Marcus Morgan, Junior, Iowa City West Baseball
One of the best all-around athletes in the state of Iowa, Morgan had a huge season on the mound last year. He struck out 105 batters and put up a 0.71 ERA with a perfect 10-0 record over 59 1/3 innings pitched. They advanced to a state semifinal while Morgan was also smacking nine doubles and three homers among 44 total hits. His triple-slash line was .404/.477/.569.
Jasmine Rumley, Senior, Ankeny Softball
Only seven players in the state of Iowa tallied more total bases than Rumley, who had 117 of them behind 14 doubles, 10 home runs and two triples. She hit .493/.536/.836, drove in 36 runs and scored 56 times. Interestingly enough, Rumley is an even better swimmer and is committed to Tennessee.
Logan Smith, Senior, Dallas Center-Grimes Baseball
Smith was one of just 15 players in the state to strike out at least 100 batters last season, and DCG is yearning for a chance to avenge last year’s heartbreaking end to the year. The South Dakota State recruit had 103 strikeouts and just 14 walks over 63 1/3 innings. He had a 1.11 ERA and a 0.73 WHIP to go with an 8-2 record. Smith also had a nice season at the plate with 30 hits, 20 RBI, 20 walks and 15 runs scored, but he is definitely one of the nastiest righties I’ve had the chance to see in person.
Tyler Tscherter, Senior, Gladbrook-Reinbeck Baseball
Another two-way threat, Tscherter ranked fourth in the state last year with a .545 batting average, and he did a lot of damage with those hits. In 48 total hits, he had 11 doubles, 11 home runs, 48 RBI and 39 runs scored. He was one of just nine players in the state with at least 100 total bases. The Kirkwood commit also posted a 1.61 ERA and an 8-2 record with 106 strikeouts over 65 1/3 innings.
Tarah Wehde, Senior, Camanche Softball
Wehde ranked second in the state last year with 18 home runs while also adding 12 doubles and a triple for 127 total bases. Her triple-slash of .457/.538/.984 was one of the top in the state, and she added an impressive 59 runs scored and 36 RBI. Wehde also split time in the circle, throwing 136 2/3 innings, striking out 136 and walking just 34 while posting a 1.54 ERA for a Camanche team filled with underclassmen.
That’s just 10 from softball and 10 from baseball, but there’s plenty more worth watching over these next several weeks. Stay tuned.
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