Your Prep Sports
Nearly half of the field for the state baseball tournament is set.
With the exception of a few substate finals that were postponed a day by weather Classes 1A and 2A saw their state tournaments take shape on Tuesday with substate finals around the state.
On Wednesday the rest of the qualifiers will be determined as Class 3A and 4A play state qualifiers across the state.
Three area teams are attempting to secure spots at the state tournament that opens on Friday at Principal Park in Des Moines including a pair of area teams that are seeking their first ever trips to state.
Here is a look at the three substate finals set for Wednesday featuring Your Prep Sports area teams.
Class 4A, Substate 6
Linn-Mar (7-8) at City High (10-8)
When: Wednesday, 7 p.m.
Where: Mercer Park in Iowa City
Top Players: City High – Gable Mitchell, Soph., SS, .453 BA, 14 Runs, 14 RBI; Carter Seaton, Soph., OF, .393 BA, 11 Runs, 8 RBI. Linn-Mar – Coy Sarsfield, Sr., P, .410 BA, 17 Runs, 13 BB; Kane Deutmeyer, Jr., Util., .356 BA, 10 RBI.
About the Little Hawks: For the third time in four seasons City High enters a substate final seeking to end a long state tournament drought.
City High lost back-to-back substate finals in 2017 and 2018 falling to Linn-Mar at Mercer Park 6-2 in 2017 and 9-2 at Marshalltown the following season.
After a substate semifinal exit last season the Little Hawks are once again a win away from their first trip to the state tournament since 2003.
City High lost three one-run games to end the regular season and trailed Cedar Rapids Jefferson 2-0 entering the seventh inning of its postseason opener before rallying for three runs.
Sophomore shortstop Gable Mitchell leads City High with a .453 batting average and 14 RBI while fellow sophomore Carter Seaton is hitting .393 with 11 runs and eight RBI.
Senior Garrett Bormann is hitting .320 and senior Reese Hayden is batting .302 for the Little Hawks.
Expect City High to go with sophomore ace Cade Obermueller who is 2-2 with a 2.10 ERA in a team-high 23.1 innings this season.
The left-hander has allowed just nine hits and struck out 26.
About the Lions: The fourth seed in Substate 6, Linn-Mar reached the substate title game with back-to-back wins over Mississippi Valley Conference rivals West High and Cedar Rapids Washington.
Three Linn-Mar pitchers limited West High to four hits in a 5-2 win over the Trojans in the opening round and John Streff tossed a complete game two hitter in a 7-3 semifinal win over Cedar Rapids Washington.
The Lions need one more win over an MVC opponent to return to the state tournament for the first time since 2017 when they upset City High in the substate finale.
Linn-Mar lost four straight following back-to-back wins to open the season and had six games cancelled this month due to COVID concerns.
Despite those challenges Linn-Mar is playing its best at the right time. With Streff unavailable after pitching on Monday the Lions will likely go back to Coy Sarsfield and Carson Recker who each threw in the opening-round win over West High.
Sarsfield is 1-1 with a 1.87 ERA in 15 innings this season while Recker is 1-1 with a 2.02 ERA in 17 1/3 innings.
Sarsfield leads the Lions offensive attack hitting .410 with a team-high 17 runs while Brendyn Mussing is hitting .360 with eight RBI and Kane Deutmeyer is hitting .356 and leads Linn-Mar with 10 RBI.
What to watch: Can City High get off to a strong start?
Second-seeded City High earned the much-coveted bye in substate 6 following its opening round win after top-seed Southeast Polk was forced to forfeit to Cedar Rapids Washington due to a positive COVID-19 test.
The key for City High will be not letting any early rust show after taking a few days off following its 3-2 come-from-behind win over Cedar Rapids Jefferson.
City High needed six innings to rev up its offense in that win over the J-Hawks and a similar slow start could be problematic against Linn-Mar.
Class 4A, Substate 5
Pleasant Valley (12-11) at Liberty High (10-5)
When: Wednesday, 7 p.m.
Where: Liberty High School
Top Players: Liberty High – Nolan Frey, Sr., OF, .434 BA, 17 RBI; Jacob Norris, Sr., INF, .426 BA, 16 Runs, 11 RBI. Pleasant Valley – Ryan Mumey, Jr., Util., .386 BA, 18 Runs, 17 RBI; Seth Clausen, Jr., SS, .382 BA, 19 Runs, 17 BB.
About the Lightning: The postseason opener for Liberty High just happens to be the substate final as a set of unusual circumstances left the Lightning with back-to-back byes in substate 5 play.
Liberty High received a forfeit in its Substate 5 opener after COVID-19 concerns caused its opening-round opponent Muscatine to shut down its season.
Top-seeded Liberty High then earned the semifinal bye as the top remaining seed moving the Lightning one win away from the first state tournament appearance in program history in just its third varsity season.
It has been a rollercoaster season for Liberty High filled with opponents cancelling games due to COVID.
Liberty High opened the season 5-1, lost three straight and has now won five of its last six entering Wednesday’s substate final.
Senior Nolan Frey leads a Lightning lineup that is hitting .308 as a team with a .434 batting average and 17 RBI while fellow senior Jacob Norris is hitting .426 with seven doubles and 11 RBI.
Six Liberty High players are hitting .325 or better as Sam Funke (.326), Cody Schroeder (.346), Tyler Dahm (.362) and TJ Kimm (.368) are all .300 hitters.
About the Spartans: Don’t let the record deceive you, Pleasant Valley is no regular .500 squad.
The Spartans rank in the top 10 in Class 4A in both team batting average (.314) and ERA (3.18) and have postseason experience after reaching the state tournament for the first time since 2003 last season.
Pleasant Valley was 11-6 three weeks into the season before going 1-5 in the final week of the regular season.
The Spartans bounced back from the rough ending to the regular season with back-to-back substate wins defeating Burlington 3-2 in the opener and North Scott 7-2 in Monday’s semifinal.
Senior Jack Young tossed six no-hit innings striking out nine in in the win over Burlington and then went 2-for-2, scored a pair of runs and drove in another in the semifinal win over North Scott.
Young is 3-1 with a 1.62 ERA and has struck out 27 in 26 innings and is one of several options the Spartans have for starting pitchers on Wednesday.
What to watch: In a normal season going a week without playing a game would be a major concern for a team.
However, this season has been anything but normal for Liberty High.
Liberty High will be playing for the first time in a week on Wednesday, marking the second time in this six-week season that the Lightning have gone seven days without a game.
The Lightning went 11 days between games earlier this season after three consecutive opponents cancelled doubleheaders between June 29 and July 3 over coronavirus concerns.
In its first game back from its last break in action Liberty High fell to Dubuque Hempstead 10-2 in the opening game of a doubleheader.
Liberty High must avoid a similar slow start in its substate final matchup with a Pleasant Valley team that seems to be hitting its stride in substate play.
Class 3A, Substate 5
Clear Creek Amana (15-5) vs. No. 1 Davenport Assumption (20-4)
When: Wednesday, 7 p.m.
Where: Modern Woodman Park in Davenport
Top Players: Clear Creek Amana – Grant Jensen, Sr., C, .507 BA, 24 Runs, 20 RBI; Parker Smith, Soph., 2B, .386 BA, 24 Runs, 12 RBI. Davenport Assumption – Seth Adrian, Sr., C, .389 BA, 4 HR, 22 RBI; Nate Schlichting, Sr., OF, .369 BA, 20 Runs, 20 RBI.
About the Clippers: It has already been an impressive turnaround season at Clear Creek Amana with the Clippers securing their best winning percentage in more than a decade. Clear Creek Amana can put a major exclamation point on its season with a substate final win and the first trip to the state tournament in program history.
The Clippers enter Wednesday’s substate final as underdogs against top-ranked Assumption but playing as well as any team in Class 3A.
Clear Creek Amana has won six of its last seven after holding off rival Solon 8-7 in the district 10 title game on Monday.
The Clippers enter the substate final ranked third in 3A with a .331 team batting average and with six starters hitting over .300 led by senior Grant Jensen who is hitting a team-high .507.
Parker Smith is hitting .386, Ben Swails (.339), Brock Reade (.333) and Sam Young (.318) are all hitting over .300 for the Clippers.
About the Knights: One of the premier programs in the state Davenport Assumption is seeking a fourth consecutive state tournament appearance after claiming back-to-back Class 3A state titles in 2017 and 2018.
The Knights enter the substate final red hot, winners of 14 of their last 15 after defeating Mount Pleasant 9-5 in the district final on Monday.
All four losses for Assumption this season have come to Class 4A competition and the Knights earned wins over each of those same four teams.
Assumption ranks fourth in Class 3A hitting .330 as a team and features eight regulars in its lineup with a batting average over .300.
Senior Seth Adrian leads the way with a .408 average, four home runs and 24 RBI while fellow senior Nate Schlichting is hitting .358 with 20 RBI and a team-high 18 walks.
What to watch: In a matchup of two of the top hitting teams in Class 3A this one could come down to the pitching.
Davenport Assumption ranks second in Class 3A with a team ERA of 1.84 and has three players that have pitched at least 26 innings that own an ERA of 1.88 or better.
Junior Alex Pollmiller is a top candidate to get the call on Wednesday and is 4-1 with a 1.43 ERA in 29 1/3 innings this season.
Expect Clear Creek Amana to go with senior Casey Ogden after Brock Reade started each of the first two postseason games.
Ogden is 3-1 with a 1.21 ERA and has struck out 31 in a team-high 29 innings this season.